Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen are—according to Hillman–“gentlemen of leisure–still singing and playing as they graciously enter their seventh decade on the planet.”
That’s Chris Hillman of The Byrds, of course, with whom he was ushered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. But Hillman’s career dates back to the early 1960s when he was a teenage mandolin player in top Southern California bluegrass bands, prior to playing bass in The Byrds when they formed in 1964.
Hillman has since served in numerous rock, country rock and country bands, most notably The Flying Burrito Brothers, Manassas and the Desert Rose Band. A Lifetime Achievement Award recipient from the Americana Music Association, he’s been playing on and off for years with guitarist and fellow Desert Rose band member Pedersen, with whom he returns to City Winery on Aug. 21.
Former Dillard Pedersen has also fronted the Laurel Canyon Ramblers and collaborated with the likes of Emmylou Harris, Earl Scruggs, Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne. In recent years, he and Hillman have recorded several acclaimed albums and toured extensively as an acoustic duo.
“We try and cover 52 years of music, our own compositions and others in a 90-minute format,” says Hillman of the Chris & Herb partnership. “I’ve added some songs of mine that have been missing in the set list, but we always play the best known songs from the Byrds, Burrito Brothers, Manassas and Desert Rose Band.”
Meanwhile, Hillman has completed his long-awaited and much-anticipated memoir.
“It’s what aging rock stars do after the dance is over!” he jokes of his autobiographical effort. “It begins with my early childhood in the 1950s and follows my musical journey in the ’60s through bluegrass, The Byrds, the Burrito Brothers, etc.–ending where I am now. I wrote about the music choosing to avoid any disparaging comments about drugs and bad behavior, so it’s solely about the music–and music’s influence on the culture from 1963 until the present time.”
That being the case, it will be hard to put down.
“My basic problem is, I’m lazy!” Hillman claims. “I’m not banging on any publishers’ doors yet, just sort of strolling along. But my daughter has done a first draft edit–and she’s tough on my use of bad cliches. And being an English Lit teacher, she’s absolutely merciless to her old dad!”
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