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Tuesday, February 19 , 2019, 8:00 am | Fair 35º


Jeff Moehlis: Herb Pedersen Talks Chris Hillman, Desert Rose Band and Plaza Playhouse Theater Show

Chris Hillman, left, and Herb Pedersen will perform at the Plaza Playhouse Theater in Carpinteria on Sunday
Chris Hillman, left, and Herb Pedersen will perform at the Plaza Playhouse Theater in Carpinteria on Sunday (www.herbpedersen.com photo)

Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen will join forces on Sunday at Carpinteria’s Plaza Playhouse Theater for what promises to be an amazing evening of acoustic pickin’ and harmonized singin’.

Hillman and Pedersen first started playing together in the Desert Rose Band, but their notable musical histories also include Hillman’s tenure in The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers and Manassas with Stephen Stills, and Pedersen playing with The Dillards, John Denver, Kris Kristofferson, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Emmylou Harris and many, many more.

Sunday’s show is presented by Ones to Watch and the Santa Barbara Music Foundation. Click here to purchase tickets.

Pedersen talked to Noozhawk about the upcoming Plaza Playhouse Theater show and his life in music. Click here for the full interview.

                                                                        •        •

Jeff Moehlis: What can people look forward to at the upcoming show?

Herb Pedersen: Basically, what we do in this configuration is kind of a Desert Rose Band acoustic show. Because John Jorgenson is with us, and possibly Bill Bryson — I’m not sure about that yet. He was our original bass player. So it could be a quartet, but probably a trio.

The material will be a lot of things that Chris has written over the years, plus some things that we did with the Desert Rose Band, and some of my tunes.

JM: How did you and Chris first meet each other and start playing together?

HP: Oh, we met years ago, 1963, at a bluegrass festival at The Ice House in Pasadena. Bob Stane, who was the owner of The Ice House for many, many years, had a bluegrass festival. There were about five different bands, and Chris was working with The Golden State Boys at the time. So that’s how we met.

I had a band called The Pine Valley Boys. Like I said, there were four or five bands there. That’s when I met him. We got along really well.

We never worked in a group together until Desert Rose, though. He went off with The Byrds after his bluegrass thing kind of petered out with The Golden State Boys.

I kind of lost track of him because he was in the rock world at that point, and I was still in bluegrass. We would see each other occasionally. I guess, one of the times was when I was working with Emmylou Harris. We did a show at Royce Hall, and he was there with The Burrito Brothers. We kind of reconnected.

Then he went on to do a couple of solo albums, and he called me to come in and sing with him and play some banjo, whatever, and it seemed to click really well. So we just kind of kept in touch with that.

Then about 1984, Dan Fogelberg was doing his album High Country Snows in Nashville, and he called me to come down and play on that. So I was on the album. And then Dan wanted to go out and promote the album, so he wanted to put together an opening band, kind of a bluegrass kind of a thing, and then he would come out after we would perform.

That’s when he called Chris to put something together, and then Chris hired John Jorgenson, Bill Bryson and myself, and we went out as an acoustic quartet. After that whole thing we did several shows in major market areas, and then John Jorgenson had the idea of plugging in and seeing what the tunes would sound like electrically.

So we added steel guitar and drums, and Bill went to electric bass, and that was the beginning of the Desert Rose Band.

JM: There’s a lot of amazing stuff in your musical history. Way back when, maybe before you met Chris, I read that you played with Jerry Garcia and David Grisman and people like that. What was that like? Was there any sense that, “Wow, we might be able to do this for a living”?

HP: Well, we were all kind of at that age. We were all out of high school at that point. Music was first and foremost in our heads. We wanted to become successful at it, and we loved the kind of music that we were playing at the time.

So, you know, you just work hard and try to sustain yourself while you’re pursuing your music career. That was kind of the feeling of everybody I knew up in the Bay Area.

JM: During the 1970s and beyond you recorded and performed with a number of amazing musicians. Are there any who particularly stand out to you?

HP: Pretty much all of the people that I’ve recorded with, they all had their main points of being really good at what they did, from John Denver to Gordon Lightfoot to James Taylor to Chris Hillman.

Everybody that I worked with knew what I did, so I could bring something to whatever project we were working on. I just feel blessed that I could work with all of them.

But nobody particular stands out like, “Wow, that was just the best.”

JM: It’s all good, right?

HP: They were all great. You know, there have been so many recording sessions, it would take me a week to figure out who exactly was the one to say that he was the greatest.

Or she. With Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton, all these people, it was all different kinds of music, and they were all just great artists.

JM: What are your plans? What’s in the works for the near future?

HP: I have a band called Loafers’ Glory, a bluegrass band down here. We’re getting ready to go in and do our second CD. I’m very excited about that.

And I also work with John Jorgenson’s bluegrass band called J2B2, meaning John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band. We just finished a CD in Nashville at Sheryl Crow’s studio. That should be released sometime this summer, I’m sure.

And working, of course, with Chris is my favorite. When we’re not busy doing stuff I find things to do. And producing records, that’s something I like to do as well.

                                                                        •        •

Click here for the full interview with Herb Pedersen, who performs with Chris Hillman on Sunday at the Plaza Playhouse Theater, 4916 Carpinteria Ave​. in Carpinteria. Click here to purchase tickets online.

— Jeff Moehlis is a Noozhawk contributing writer and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his web site, music-illuminati.com. The opinions expressed are his own.

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