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Album Review

While he's been a member of two of the most influential American rock bands of the 1960s, the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, and enjoyed significant success on the country charts in the '80s with the Desert Rose Band, at heart Chris Hillman is a sideman; he's a great musician and capable songwriter who is more interested in serving the song than serving his ego, and to his credit his best solo albums sound like the work of a well-polished ensemble rather than a star who has built a band around himself. Hillman may take the lead vocals, play some fine mandolin solos, and provide a bit of star power on this album, but it's significant that on At Edwards Barn he shares top billing with guitarist Herb Pedersen, a longtime friend and collaborator of Hillman with an impressive résumé as a studio musician and former member of the Dillards and the Desert Rose Band. It's also telling that this live album was indeed recorded in a barn in Nipono, CA during a concert staged as a benefit for a local church; there's a warm and casual feeling to this music and the interaction with the audience, though the playing is never less than expert and the arrangements are precise and span the various stages of Hillman's career with skill. Hillman and Pedersen are joined by three expert musicians who they've worked with before, guitarist Larry Park, fiddler David Mansfield, and bassist Bill Bryson, and the ensemble plays with the light touch and emotional gravity of a top-notch bluegrass ensemble, even when tackling such Byrds classics as "Eight Miles High" and "Have You Seen Her Face." The attitude of At Edwards Barn is genuinely modest, but the beauty of the music is not; Hillman, Pedersen, and their cohorts tackle their back catalog with enthusiasm and estimable skill, and this is as quietly satisfying as anything Hillman has put his name to since the end of the Desert Rose Band.

Biography

Born: December 4, 1944 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Country

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Along with frequent collaborator Gram Parsons, Chris Hillman was the key figure in the development of country-rock, virtually defining the genre through his seminal work with the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers. Hillman was born on December 4, 1944, in Los Angeles, where he grew up listening to Spade Cooley and Cliffie Stone and taught himself to play guitar. In 1961, he and a pair of high-school friends formed the Scottsville Squirrel Barkers and cut an album; a year later, he joined the Golden...
Full Bio
At Edwards Barn, Chris Hillman
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