Mike Savoia / Courtesy Dirty Honey –
Dirty Honey’s Marc LaBelle (center) says opening for The Black Crowes “Shake Your Money Maker Tour,” which includes stops at the Forum, Red Rocks and SPAC in Saratoga N.Y., is a “dream tour.”
For Dirty Honey’s Marc LaBelle, opening for The Black Crowes on their 2021 “Shake Your Money Maker Tour” is coming full circle in myriad ways dating back to the frontman’s earliest memories in his native upstate New York.
“Everybody in my family was super into music,” LaBelle says, “and I’m the youngest one. We’ve been going to concerts forever. We drove to Philly to see the Stones, which is a five- or six-hour drive. One of my first concerts was seeing Aerosmith and then The Black Crowes open for Tom Petty at a venue called SPAC (Saratoga Performing Arts Cengter) in Saratoga, N.Y. “I definitely thought, ‘That’s what I want to do with my life. I was very, very young, like 6 or 7 years old. I knew right then that I wanted to pursue music as a career.”
LaBelle wore out the digital files on the disc learning the solo to “Hard To Handle,” which he says was one of the first he learned on guitar. “Obviously, that grabbed me and pulled me into the rest of the album,” he says. “When you pop the record in, you hear ‘Sister Luck,’ ‘Twice as Hard,’ ‘She Talks to Angels,’ ‘Jealous Again’ – it’s just loaded with great stuff.”
Meanwhile, over the last several years, LaBelle’s hard rock band Dirty Honey has exploded with their 2019 debut single “When I’m Gone,” becoming the first song by an unsigned act to land at No. 1 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart. They’ve also opened for a number of high-profile acts, including Guns N’ Roses, Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, and Alter Bridge, but the Crowes’ tour is their biggest yet. And for the lifelong uber-fan, the opportunity is life-changing.
“In late 2019 I flew to New York to see The Black Crowes reunion at the Bowery Ballroom – like I said, I love the band,” LaBelle says. “I brought a buddy with me and we went out for a drink before the show. Completely by accident, Chris Robinson was sitting at this lounge on the Bowery with my manager (both acts share Red Light Management’s Mark DiDia). It was a cool spot and it was like a half hour before showtime. He’s just sitting there, having a cocktail, doing his thing. So I was like, ‘What the hell.’ I was kind of freaked out because he’s in full stage garb at this lounge full-on looking like a rock star as he should. It was pretty intimidating at first, but he’s so disarmingly sweet. And so is Rich. My first interactions with them couldn’t have been more fun. They were in very good spirits having played their first show together in many years, it was quite a celebration.”
Dirty Honey, whose debut full-length, The Dirty Honey Album, dropped April 21, is amidst a 16-date June club tour with Joyous Wolf. Then July 20-21 the band kicks off its tour with the Crowes at Nashville’s Ascend Amphitheater, though there’s one date of the 35 stops that especially stands out to LaBelle.
“It’s really crazy,” he says, “I’ve never been backstage at SPAC.” LaBelle is referring to Saratoga Performing Arts Center, his hometown venue where he saw the Crowes and many others growing up. “I’ve only gone there as a fan. So just to walk around that back area is weird and strange and unique. I’m sure the days leading up to it, my family, who are obviously very proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, though there’s still a long way to go, they’ll all be there.”
LaBelle says the band may even have its own cheering section. “Literally, between cousins, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, it’ll probably be like 100 people, I would imagine. There’s going to be one section in the audience going absolutely bananas and the rest of the place will be like, ‘Who are these guys?’”