When the Black Crowes began murmuring about an extended hiatus a few years ago, drummer Steve Gorman knew he needed to find a new project. He and bassist Nick Govrik had been holding down a weekly Wednesday night gig in Nashville since 2004, jamming with a rotating cast of friends who stopped by. That loose band began to solidify when former Crowes guitarist Audley Freed came on board, culminating in the debut of Trigger Hippy at a one-off 2009 show in Macon, Ga., with Widespread Panic's Jimmy Herring on lead guitar.
Flash forward two years to the spring of 2011 with the Crowes on an indefinite break. Trigger Hippy was still more of a jam between friends than a cohesive band. "The line back then was, 'As soon as we get a singer, we're going to be real,'" laughs Gorman.
That singer came in the form of Joan Osborne. An artist best known for the hit tune "One of Us," Osborne had also toured with the Dead. Singer/guitarist Jackie Greene, a veteran of Phil Lesh and Friends, was the next to come on board.
"The first time we were all in a room together, we were all just laughing," Gorman recalls. "I never foresaw that we would end up with this two vocalist, male/female dynamic."
The band began booking dates, performing nine shows between July and November of last year, including a stop last fall at the Southern Ground Music Festival in Charleston.
In January, they began recording a studio album. Their spring tour includes a stop at the Wanee Festival. The run also marks the departure of Freed, replaced by singer/songwriter Will Kimbrough, a long-time friend of Gorman's.
"With schedules and everyone's lives, it's not like it was 20 years ago, where it's just, 'Let's just be in a band and do it, and nothing else matters,'" says Gorman of Freed's departure.
This fall, he anticipates everyone making a bigger commitment to pushing Trigger Hippy as a main project. "We're making plans now," Gorman says. "Everyone's focused. It used to be that every few weeks we'd ask, 'Anybody want to do anything?' We've been doing this at a pace that makes sense."