Tag Archives: Chris Hillman

Gratefully Yours + anticipation + shuffling into 2014

One rainy October afternoon:
ExileMainStFeeling lucky to even be alive, which is another story altogether and for another day. Plugged in to my IPod, “Sweet Virginia” from The Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street cycled up.  The opening guitar riffs, soon joined by harmonica, are unmistakable and instantly recognizable and suddenly there I was … back there … the day in Spring ’72  it came out … in Richmond’s  Fan district with friends sitting on their front porch which just happened to face Main Street … speakers balanced precariously in the windows blasting into the city street through a haze of smoke.  And us, balanced just as precariously on porch railings or steps or leaned back on two-chair legs in our Landlubber-with-the-3″-zipper- bellbotttoms.  Oh, we were exiled, alright. I will forever associate that song, that album with that time, that place, and that handful of people.

As I reflected on music shared with me through the years, I spent the next few weeks listening to my collection differently … with the idea that I’d actually stop and make the time to offer thanks for 1) either introducing me to something new – or – 2) encouraging me to go back and listen more carefully to an artist I hadn’t given much time to – or – 3) simply creating a new and indelible memory through the power of music. Much to my surprise, it became an over-arcing and joyful project as I began to write notes of “Thanks Givings” for gifting a particular piece of music, art, book, recipe or favorite restaurant. If part of this reads familiar, you’ve already heard from me … if you haven’t received yours yet, stay tuned, this is a long-range project!

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2014 Hi-Ho’s
All that I got to experience this past year just to make a new column for Chapel Hill Magazine’s The WEEKLY happen was an extra-large goodie bag overflowing with the stuff that make life shiny and bright – music, art, wine, food, and books.

In all, an embarrassment of riches that included interviews and small intimate concerts with long-time heroes Roger McGuinn, Bill Payne and Chris Hillman. An afternoon hearing Peter Ostroushko and our very own Danny Gotham. Talking Lovesick Blues with Chris Stamey via email. Musical evenings spent with my Cat’s Cradle co-conspirator, Liz Holm, both of us blissfully unaware that we didn’t have that much time left together. Watching Tess Mangum Ocaña rise up and conquer with Sonic Pie Productions. Another honey-we-got-the-band-back-together high school reunion. And, maybe best of all, meeting you all who came up to me at various events and places introducing yourselves (Mike and Ron, you know who you are), then making my day by telling me you came out to this or that because I told you to (Leah, Henry, Carol, Peter, et al).

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Liz
I liked Liz immediately the first time we met, which, of course, was at a Cradle show – Big Star’s Third/Sister Lovers. I introduced her to drummer Jody Stephens, and we were off and running. We quickly discovered all the things and people we had in common (I grew up in CH and went to CHHS with her sister, music groups & artists we shared a love for, small bars like the OC Social Club and the Dead Mule, etc. the list went on and on.) She was instrumental in my first real “big get” interview with the Zombies, followed by Little Feat.  And she humored me by coming to see groups she at first really had no big interest in hearing just so we could hang out … thanking me afterward for dragging her to Mickey Hart and Trampled by Turtles 🙂 And with colorful scarves and wraps, she always saved us the best seats in the house – stage right 2-3 stools back.

Her love and her pride for her incredibly talented virtuoso concert violinist daughter, Jennifer, was so bright and intense that she was the light in the room when talking about her.  Every show we attended, or every time we were together, we’d sit side by side and she’d update me on her successes, showing me picture after picture on her phone.  It was easy to feel I knew Jennifer already, even though we had never met.  My sadness at her loss was/is acute, made worse by having to miss her beautiful memory day out at the Haw River Ballroom. I miss you everyday, babe!

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Anticipation-junkie that you know that I am means I can’t wait to see what’s coming in 2014. Already penciled in are King Mackerel & the Blues are Running (Feb. 27 & 28/Playmakers Theatre), a South Wing show (Feb./TBA), Crosby, Stills & Nash (Mar. 24/DPAC), and Desert Rose Band (Aug./The ArtsCenter).

A while back as I was walking in my usual hurry-up with an old friend, he (being about 10 steps behind me) whoa’d me down and seriously wounded my strong sense of Southern-inity by saying that I had clearly lost my mosey.  Glory be, he was right. All too aware that life is full of every day gifts that fly right past unopened, my plan for 2014 is to take back my mosey. And, oh yeah, I’m counting on your help with that. For all of you who just saw me through one of the scariest bits of my life, I love and thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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ShuffleShufflin’ in to 2014
Home on the River (King Mackerel & the Blues are Running)
Story of Love (Desert Rose Band)
Marrakesh Express (CSN)
The 59th Street Bridge Song (Simon & Garfunkel)
One Short Night (Grace Potter & the Nocturnals)
Everything by Mandolin Orange

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Chris Hillman + Herb Pedersen = Soon!

chris_herb_lrg2010Chris Hillman & Herb Pedersen
Sunday, August 18, 7pm – $20 (Friends), $24, $28 (DOS)
The ArtsCenter
Carrboro, NC

Pages of Life

He might have been just as happy as a cowboy.  Or a surfer. I, for one, am glad Chris Hillman discovered music and listened carefully to that sound in his head that would connect a musically curious generation to country rock back in the late 60’s.

Without Chris Hillman’s influence (The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Manassas, Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, McGuinn Clark & Hillman, McGuinn & Hillman, Desert Rose Band), I’m not sure we’d be listening to the same Avett Brothers or Mumford and Sons we hear today. In the playlist of my life, rock (The Rolling Stones, The Who, etc.) instantly conjures memories of parties, concerts, and good times, man. Country rock (The Byrds, FBB, Poco, Pure Prairie League, etc.) will forever be connected to falling in (and out) of love.

The hardest part of interviewing, IMHO, is trying not to bore the interviewee, especially when they fall into legendary status. Rock and roll history is right there on the line and you’d rather chew pencils than pitch out the same old questions they’ve heard over and over and over, ad nauseam. I decided that if he wanted to talk about The Byrds and Gram Parsons that he was going to have to bring them up. It was a good call on my part.

He started right off by saying “They say some of the best banjo players come out of North Carolina.” Ok, I’m good with where this is going so far.

I knew I wanted to talk about the new crop of young bands joyfully incorporating traditional string music into their current sound. Alt-country, I think they call it. Whatever.

We went in a dozen directions – R&B songs to religion, songwriting to great American novels, heroin to herding cattle – none of them predictable, but all of them connected by a common thread – Chris Hillman himself. After five minutes I felt like I’d been talking with him for hours and he comes across as one of the nicest guys you ever want to meet. Plus he even broke into song several times. I mean, you have to be respectful of a man who can casually mention David (Crosby) without it seeming the least little bit pretentious or bragging.  It actually didn’t even take long before we were talking about Gram. But you have to read the entire Q&A for the whole story.

Chris and Herb Pedersen have known one another for 50 years, but didn’t play together in a group until the Desert Rose Band. With all those years, talent, and multi-stringed instruments between them, it’s a given that they’d make beautiful music together and that they’d share that with the appreciative audience that would be us.