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Saturday, December 15 , 2018, 10:58 pm | Fair 49º


Gerald Carpenter: Chris Hillman and Friends Play Benefit at Lobero

Chris Hillman, co-founder of the Byrds, Flying the Burrito Brothers, the SHF Band, and the Desert Rose Band, is on tour with his new album, Bidin’ My Time, produced by the late, lamented Tom Petty. The tour stops in Santa Barbara at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16, at the Lobero Theater.

Performing with Hillman will be Herb Pedersen — of the Dillards and Desert Rose (Hillman's friend and collaborator for half a century — and John Jorgenson, also of Desert Rose fame.

Hillman, who has lived in Ventura forever, has said the concert's proceeds will go to the relief of victims of the Thomas Fire.

In addition to the new material, we are likely to hear songs from any point in Hillman's career: Byrds and before, Desert Rose and later.

Hillman's place in the Pantheon is secure, and he's alive to enjoy it. Considering the perilous decades he's traveled through as a professional musician, that's quite an achievement.

He was neither crazy nor self-destructive enough to be a pop star, but he has held the stage with many of the breed and has learned the hard way that most efforts to "save" are doomed. Yet, concern for his friends is the driving force behind many of his best songs, like
"Poor old Tom, living on the hill,
"Says he wants to quit, but I know he never will
"The bottle's his ticket to an early grave
"Nothing you can do, nothing you can say
"'Cept he's safe at home, safe at home
"Baby, stop crying, got to leave him alone ..."

Hillman has written some wonderful songs, and his voice manages to true, clear and expressive at once, yet it is his phenomenal instrumental ability that is the basis of his fame and fortune.

The world takes up even the greatest songs and drops them after awhile, but, as Robert Browning wrote, so long ago: "I can always leave off talking when I hear a master play."

Hillman's contributions to the groups he's founded — or joined, like Manassas — and to the recordings of his friends, like Gene Clark, have served as the vital connective tissue to music on our coast.

I first became aware of Herb Pedersen after he had joined the bluegrass band, The Dillards, for their fourth album, Wheatstraw Suite, one of the most important and influential albums in the early history of what came to be known as "country-rock."

He replaced banjo player Doug Dillard, who left the group he had co-founded with his brother Rodney, to team up with the Byrds' Gene Clark forming the Dillard & Clark Expedition.

Pedersen's contribution to the Dillards went beyond championship banjo-picking. He wrote or co-wrote attractive songs, sang leads and harmony, with Rodney.

Now, siblings sing the best harmony, in my experience, but for any singer looking beyond your genome for back up, you can't do better than Pedersen. Ask Linda Rondstadt or Emmylou Harris. Ask Chris Hillman.

John Jorgenson was new to me with Desert Rose. He is a lithe and charismatic performer and adds a touch of drama to the live show.

Tickets to Chris Hillman are going fast. They are $45, and can be purchased in person at the Lobero box office, 31 E. Canon Perdido St.; by phone at 963-0761; or on line at http://checkout.lobero.com/single/event.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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