Seeing this show billed as Hillman and Pedersen with Jorgenson makes you wonder why the three-man core of country hitmakers, The Desert Rose Band, didn’t just go ahead and bill themselves as such. Well, the facts are that Hillman is out touring in support of his great new Bidin’ My Time record with pal Herb along for the ride. And Nashvillian friend Jorgenson figured he’d be at the show any way so why shouldn’t he just bring his guitar along and play? Well, it was sure a treat to see these three together again.
My personal history of seeing Hillman perform began long after his Byrds and Burritos days. There have been solo shows, duos with Roger McGuinn and several rounds with the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band. Looking at Hillman’s long illustrious career that ultimately led to commercial-country success with Desert Rose, in my book, Chris is undoubtedly country-rock royalty.
Once again, for me he is another artist I am so fortunate to see play whose legacy has roots with the late Gram Parsons. Filling my never-ending Gram-fascination, before tonight, I don’t recall ever before hearing the story of how he and GP wrote “Wheels” after Parsons wrecked his brand-new motorcycle. Chris and Herb Pedersen followed the tale with a lovely version of this Flying Burrito Brothers classic.
Both now in their 70s, both Hillman and Pedersen still have strong voices, and together tonight with the youthful Jorgensen (he’s a young 61) harmonized together so beautifully accompanied only by acoustic instruments and without any drums.
While it was Hillman’s night to showcase the new LP, Herb was given his moments on lead vocals which he skillfully handled by revisiting his bluegrass days with The Dillards. Throughout the night, Jorgenson reminded us of what a fabulous guitar player he is by making what he does look so easy. Every so often he would step to the front of the stage to solo. Any thought of this being a boastful move was quickly dispelled by just watching his fingers fly up and down the frets.
The song selection covered all the bases of Chris’s career (except for SHF) and featured several from his new record. Bidin’ My Time was produced by Tom Petty, and thankfully resurrects a few old Hillman songs that would have been otherwise abandoned. To my ears, it is one of 2017’s best new releases. Hillman told a few stories about Tom’s work on the LP evidencing Petty’s heartfelt respect for Chris and regard for his musical history. Sadly, we would be hearing these stories only to experience the shocking news of Tom’s untimely death the very next day.
It’s a pleasure to see a show as delightful and well-performed as this one. Let’s hope that Chris Hillman and his friends return to Music City on a regular basis.
- The Bells of Rhymney (Peter Seeger cover)
- Bidin’ My Time
- Love Reunited
- Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season?) (Peter Seeger cover)
- Given All I Can See
- If I Can Only Win Your Love (The Louvin Brothers cover)
- Walk Right Back (The Everly Brothers cover)
- She Don’t Care About Time
- Eight Miles High
- Set You Free This Time (John Jorgenson vocal)
- When I Get a Little Money
- She Sang Hymns Out of Tune (Herb Pedersen vocal)
- Different Rivers
- Wildflowers (Tom Petty cover)
- I’m Restless
- Hey Boys (Herb Pedersen vocal)
- Together Again (Buck Owens cover)
- Such is the World We Live In
- Wait a Minute (Herb Pedersen vocal)
- Here She Comes Again
- Rank Strangers (The Stanley Brothers cover)
Chris Hillman—vocals, acoustic guitar and mandolin
Herb Pedersen—backing vocals and acoustic guitar
John Jorgenson— backing vocals, acoustic guitar, mandolin and piano
Mike Bub—stand-up bass