As I write, the first snow of the year is falling outside and the new album from Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen is on the stereo. It’s a beautiful live recording from The Edwards Barn in Nipomo, CA, and as a preview of what’s to come this week in OUR barn, it’s incredibly exciting. The performance is comprised of tight, rippling acoustic versions of songs from various chapters of these old friends’ illustrious musical careers. From the Desert Rose Band we hear “Love Reunited.” They lay into a fabulous version of “Together Again” by one of their key musical influences, Buck Owens. They strip the psychedelic paint off “Eight Miles High” from the Byrds catalog and amaze with “Sin City,” one of the classics from the Flying Burrito Brothers, which Hillman co-wrote with Gram Parsons. Clearly going to be a favorite of the year.
When you think about the breadth and dept of Hillman’s track record in music, it’s kind of awe inspiring. His improbable journey took him into the most vital and important bands of the early folk/country/rock fusion movement. He was a ranching kid from California who discovered folk music through his older sister. Early on, he was in a bluegrass band with Vern Gosdin. He formed the Byrds with Roger McGuinn. He joined Gram Parsons in the Flying Burrito Brothers and teamed with J.D. Souther for a trio with Richie Furay. And this was all BEFORE forming the Desert Rose Band with his old friend Pederson, who’d become one of the great journeymen sidemen and session guys of the California scene. Their guitar player was none other than John Jorgenson, a legend of both West Coast AND Nashville studios and stages. Catnip for the likes of us, but happily a success on the radio too in the late 80s/early 90s, with hits like “Ashes of Love” and “I Still Believe In You.” In all, these guys have left an astonishing and wonderful legacy, and we’ll likely hear songs from several of those eras and ventures when Hillman and Pedersen take the stage on Wednesday.
We already had a fine show worked up when the H/P opportunity arose if we do say so. We’ll kick off with the East Nashville scribes and singers Eric Brace and Peter Cooper. (Peter will again sub-host for the touring Jim Lauderdale.) Also on the duo front we’ve got Kristi Rose and Fats Kaplin, she of the humongous voice and he of the fleet fingers and tasteful musicianship, which he applies to all manner of stringed things. We’ll be hearing from haunting and graceful songwriter Jennifer Nicely. She’s spent recent months away from Nashville, back in her home town of Strawberry Plains, TN. Doesn’t that sound like a pleasant place to be? And we’ll rock out with Holy Ghost Tent Revival, a blast of a band from Greensboro that’s figured out how to marry banjo with brass band instruments and which has huge vocal chops and a rhythm section that will blow you away.
Barn doors open at 6. The bands roll at 7 pm. Put on snow tires if you have to. This is going to be great.