By Charlie Swanson
Even though multi-instrumentalist Jason Crosby has been playing music with prodigious skill since he was 2 years old, he still calls himself a late bloomer. Classically trained in violin, piano, guitar and more as a child, the Long Island native, living in Marin since 2013, now plays regularly around the North Bay and beyond with the likes of Phil Lesh, Moonalice, Doobie Decibel System, Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers and others.
On Thursday, June 2, Crosby celebrates his 42nd birthday with a massive concert party featuring dozens of musical friends including Stu Allen, Dan Lebowitz, Shana Morrison, Grahame Lesh, Greg Loiacono, Greg Anton and Elliott Peck.
“I had a different kind of childhood growing up, listening to classical and jazz, so a lot of music that l learned, like James Brown and the Grateful Dead, I learned by playing with bands rather than hearing from the source,” Crosby says.
The first time Crosby ever played music without having it written in front of him, he says, was at age 16. “It was nerve-wracking.”
After high school, Crosby started playing regularly in rock ’n’ roll bands. That’s when he says the excitement of contemporary music caught fire. He toured regularly with Robert Randolph and the Family Band, the Susan Tedeschi Band and others.
Crosby lived in Manhattan for 10 years before moving to Marin. “I came out in 2012 with God Street Wine, and played at Bob Weir’s TRI Studios as well as Sweetwater and Terrapin, the loop of magic going on here in Marin,” he says. Things clicked so much that Crosby decided to move out full-time.
“I love it here, musicians get well taken care of here. It’s a great community,” Crosby says of Marin. “It’s amazing, because I was once just that kid discovering this music like the Dead. I was a little bit of a late bloomer, but to be around them now and be considered a peer is gratifying.”
“Through Bob (Weir) and Phil (Lesh), I’ve met so many other people who have taken me on the road or into the studio, I’ve been unbelievably busy ever since I moved here,” he says.
When he’s not on the road, Crosby has established himself as a staple of the North Bay scene. Aside from his birthday concert, Crosby’s schedule this summer includes performing this weekend at BottleRock Napa Valley and at the upcoming Blue Rose Foundation concert in Petaluma with Jackie Greene. “I’m humbled by it,” he says. “It’s just been an adventure here.”
Jason Crosby & Friends perform on Thursday, June 2 at Terrapin Crossroads, 100 Yacht Club Dr., San Rafael; 8pm; $20; 16 and over; 415/524-2773.