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David Crosby & Friends


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The folk rock pioneer and two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee David Crosby performs with singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter and Americana duo Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen take the stage together. 

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David Crosby
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It's a good time to be David Crosby. The two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee is experiencing an unprecedented surge not only in prolificacy, but in creativity. 

Sky Trails, his third album of original material in four years, takes the fearless folk rock legend in a new musical direction as the set tilts toward a full band sound with deep, soulful grooves.   "It's a natural thing for me, says Crosby, who joyously embraced the challenge of the shifting song structures.  "I've always felt more comfortable there. There's complexity, intricacy and subtleties in the music. I like that stuff." 

The album opens with the intoxicating "She's Got To Be Somewhere," -Crosby and a nine-piece band premiered the track via the Tonight Show earlier this year - which sounds like a lost Steely Dan cut complete with sturdy horns, bending guitar notes and lilting melodies. "We didn't consciously do that," Crosby says. "We just naturally go to a place where Donald [Fagen] goes. I loved Steely Dan right from the first notes I heard." 

"We is Crosby and the  Sky Trails musicians, the core of whom are saxophonist Steve Tavaglione, bassist Mai Agan, drummer Steve DiStanislao, and Crosby's son, multi-instrumentalist James Raymond, who also produced the album. 

Sky Trails follows last year's critically acclaimed  Lighthouse - which received praise from outlets including Rolling Stone, Stereogum and NPR Music - which was preceded by 2014' Croz, Crosby's first solo album in 20 years. Though Crosby wrote many of the songs for  Sky Trails as he was working on  Lighthouse, the two are distinctly different projects.  "Lighthouse was conspicuously and deliberately acoustic, Crosby says.  "Sky Trails was intended to be a full band record from the start." 

Crosby found himself reinvigorated by the stellar musicians with which he's surrounded himself.  "All the people in the  Sky Trails band are much younger than me, so I have to paddle faster to keep up, he says with a laugh. 

His delight in working with his son, whom Crosby met when Raymond was 30 after being given up for adoption, is palpable.   "The relationship that's developed with my son is absolutely uncanny and wonderful, he says.  

 Crosby co-wrote four of the album's 10 songs with Raymond.  "He's probably the person I write best with, Crosby says.  "We often write over the internet. I'll send him a scrap of words and then we'll expand on it or I'll send him a complete set of words and he'll say,  'please let me see what I can come up with and he'll send me back a demo of what he thinks the music should be." 

He also praises Raymond for his inventive studio wizardry, especially on  "Curved Air, where Raymond's keyboards create the vibrant flamenco guitar sound that serves as the song's foundation.  "Hell no, I can't play like that, Crosby laughs when asked if he's playing guitar on the track that examines life's contradictions.   "It's James on keyboard. So is the bass. It's the only time I've ever heard anybody write singer/songwriter music with flamenco playing."   

 Crosby and Raymond recorded some of the songs at Raymond's home studio and then moved to Jackson Browne's Groove Masters studio in Santa Monica for tunes that feature the full band. 

In addition to the opener and  "Curved Air, standout tracks include  "Before Tomorrow Falls On Love, a spare, romantic piano ballad Crosby co-wrote with Michael McDonald, that reveals Crosby to be quite the tender jazz crooner.  "For God's sake, don't tell anybody I can croon, he says with a sharp laugh.  "It was the nature of the song."   He and Becca Stevens bring a sweet, ethereal gentleness to the title track, as their voices weave around Tavaglione's soprano sax.   "She's a stunning, amazing singer and a great writer, Crosby says of Stevens, with whom he co-wrote the track.  "I'd rather be in a band with her than almost anybody." 

Though he offers abundant praise for his bandmates, as writer/co-writer of eight of the tracks, Crosby deserves the credit for the album's wide-ranging, incisive lyrics that examine the human condition, from our frailty on  "Here It's Almost Sunset to our greed on the searing  "Capitol."    

"It's a smorgasbord of feelings, he says of the album.  "There's so many different things going in so many different directions."

Yet, anchored by Crosby's instantly recognizable iconic vocals, which are by turns biting and soulful, the album holds together remarkably well as a cohesive statement about our humanity. 

The album's lone cover is a stirring version of  "Amelia, a tune written by Crosby's longtime friend Joni Mitchell and featured on her own jazz-based seminal work, 1976' Hejira "I've always loved how Joni wrote about her love life and Amelia Earhart's life at the same time, Crosby says.  "It's just exquisite writing." 

Sky Trails closes with the shimmering, finely textured  "Home Free. While the song works beautifully as a stand-alone track, Crosby wrote it for  Little Pink House, a feature film based on the true story of a Connecticut woman, Susette Kelo. After remodeling her beloved small home, Kelo was evicted when the government seized her land via eminent domain for a Pfizer plant that, ultimately, was never built. She took her case to the Supreme Court and lost. Crosby's friend, Jeff Benedict, wrote a book about the case and when the book was turned into a film, asked Crosby to contribute a song. His vulnerable, exposed vocals are a fitting benediction. 

In Crosby's unparalleled six-decade career, the native Californian has created songs that resonate as indelible cultural touchstones for more than three generations, not only as a solo artist, but as a founding member of The Byrds in the mid-60s, Crosby, Stills & Nash (recipients of the Grammy for best new artist in 1969), and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. He's collaborated with dozens of artists, including Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, Phil Collins, Elton John and Carole King. 

The folk rock pioneer, who was inducted into the prestigious Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009, has also served as our social conscience, not only eloquently writing about societal issues on such songs as  "Almost Cut My Hair and  "Wooden Ships, but continuously donating concert proceeds to likeminded causes. His towering influence and brilliant ability to capture the spirit of our times in his music remains undiminished.

The good news is that at 75, Crosby remains as engaged and energized as ever, with no end in sight. The creative floodgates that opened a few years ago continue to flow and Crosby delights that the songs are still pouring forth. He doesn't think too hard about why the muse has alighted upon him at this late stage in his career, but offers up that perhaps once CS&N ended,  "there was a lot of pent-up creative juice. It's as if I'd been in a dark room and someone turned on the lights, he says.  "I don't want to take it for granted, but it's been absolutely amazing."

David Crosby Mary Chapin Carpenter
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The Things That We Are Made Of, the new full-length album by renowned and beloved singer, songwriter and performer Mary Chapin Carpenter, will be released May 6 on Lambent Light Records via Thirty Tigers (pre-order). Produced by 2016 Producer of the Year Grammy-nominee Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton), the album features eleven new songs, including the lead track "Something Tamed Something Wild," which premiered yesterday at Rolling Stone and can now be heard/shared via Soundcloud. Of the song, Rolling Stone praises, "…beautifully sums up where she's been and sets the stage for what's yet to come…'Something Tamed Something Wild' and indeed the entire new album finds the songwriter at her most thoughtful and also at times sweetly whimsical, perfectly capturing the buoyant spirit of her early successes and also serving as a reminder that she remains one of the most grounded, sentient songwriters of her generation."

In celebration of the release, Carpenter will return to D.C.'s legendary Wolf Trap for a special performance on July 2. Tickets will go on-sale on Saturday, March 19. Additional tour dates to be announced shortly.
The Things That We Are Made Of was recorded at Nashville's Sound Emporium and Low Country Sound studios during the spring and summer of 2016. In addition to Carpenter (vocals, electric/acoustic guitar), the album features Cobb (electric/acoustic/gut string guitar, percussion, Moog, Mellotron), Annie Clements (bass), Brian Allen (bass), Chris Powell (drums, percussion), Mike Webb (piano, B3 organ, reed organ, Mellotron, Fender Rhodes) and Jimmy Wallace (piano, B3 organ).

Of the album, Carpenter comments, "Working with Dave felt great from the first day of our sessions. He is always willing to try something new, believes that 'yes' is the only answer, and surrounds himself with wonderfully talented and generous musicians; by the end of the project, I felt as if I was a part of a new family."
Cobb adds, "I wanted to work with Mary Chapin because very few people can cut with words like she can. She's an absolute poet and legend. I was so happy to collaborate on this album together."

Over the course of her acclaimed career, Carpenter has recorded 14 albums and sold over 14 million records. With hits like "Passionate Kisses" and "He Thinks He'll Keep Her," she has won five Grammy Awards (with 15 nominations), two CMA awards, two Academy of Country Music awards for her vocals and is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Most recently, in 2014, Carpenter released her acclaimed debut orchestral album, Songs From The Movie. Arranged and co-produced by six-time Grammy winner Vince Mendoza, the record is comprised of ten previously recorded compositions including "Between Here and Gone" and "Come On Come On." Since it's release, Carpenter has performed alongside the New York Philharmonic, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the London Concert Orchestra, the L.A. Philharmonic and the National Symphony Orchestra among many others.
Citing as inspiration such seminal film composers as Elmer Bernstein and Thomas Newman, and contemporary symphonic composers like Tobias Picker and Morten Lauridsen, Carpenter had long imagined this project but it wasn't until she had the chance to work with Mendoza that it came to fruition. 

The result reprises ten of Carpenter's songs in Mendoza's distinctively beautiful and cinematic arrangements - thus the album title that gathers them together - to give the listener the continuum of a film soundtrack, albeit an imaginary one. 

The album was recorded at London's legendary AIR Studios, with a 63-piece orchestra, and a 15-voice choir. "Part of the challenge of this new musical setting was to find the right approach to singing each song," Carpenter says. "Singing with an orchestra is very different from singing with a band. I had to learn to ride the enormous wave of sound an orchestra produces but not over sing at the same time. Finding a quiet voice while still conveying strength was the way in."

From "Come On Come On" to "On And On It Goes" to "I Am A Town" and "Goodnight America," the record finds this multi-platinum album selling, multi-Grammy winner, two-time CMA Female Vocalist, and member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame still breaking new ground, giving us a record unlike any of her others. "I grew up in a house where film soundtracks and classical music played constantly because my mother loved them so," Carpenter says, as a way to explain how she came to this project. "Recording at AIR Studios in London was magical and working with Vince as he transformed my songs with his arrangements was an extraordinary artistic experience. I feel so fortunate to have been given this chance to do something so different from what I have done in the past and what I expect to do in the future." 

That level of excitement and fearless creativity has been a common thread throughout Mary Chapin Carpenter's two-and-a-half-decade recording career, during which she's sold more than 13 million records and developed a remarkably loyal and devoted international fan base. 

Born in Princeton, New Jersey, Carpenter began playing guitar and writing songs early in life, and was playing her songs in D.C. clubs before she was out of her teens. Word of Carpenter's talents eventually reached Nashville, winning her a deal with Columbia Records, which released her 1987 debut album, Hometown Girl.

Her debut disc set the stage for the success of 1989's State of the Heart and 1990's Shooting Straight in the Dark, each of which produced four Top 20 hits, including the Grammy-winning smash "Down at the Twist and Shout." Those releases were followed by the massive commercial breakthrough of 1992's Come On Come On, which was certified quadruple platinum and yielded no less than seven charting singles. 

More success followed with such albums as the platinum Stones in the Road, A Place in the World, Time* Sex* Love* and Between Here and Gone. Carpenter moved to Rounder/Zoë in time for 2007's Grammy-nominated The Calling, which was followed by the seasonally themed Come Darkness Come Light: 12 Songs of Christmas, the Grammy-nominated The Age of Miracles and Ashes and Roses. 

Along the way, Carpenter has won five Grammy Awards, was named the Country Music Association's Female Vocalist of the Year in 1992 and 1993 and in 2012 was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Her compositions have also been covered by a diverse assortment of artists including Joan Baez, Wynonna Judd, Cyndi Lauper, Trisha Yearwood, Maura O'Connell, Mary Black and Dianne Reeves and has also collaborated, on record and/or on stage, with the likes of Joan Baez, Shawn Colvin, Dolly Parton, the Indigo Girls and Tony Bennett. 

Following the January 2014 debut of the album with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at the prestigious Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, Carpenter will appear as a guest with orchestras in the U.S. and the U.K. throughout 2014.

Mary Chapin Carpenter
Chris Hillman & Herb Pedersen
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Chris Hillman
Chris Hillman is the kind of free only earned by having nothing left to prove.

"It was a passion," Hillman says, reflecting on his early years with a guitar, mandolin, and bass. "I had this passion to embrace the music and learn it, never really thinking, 'I'm going to be a huge star.' I didn't think that way at all."

At first, it's tempting to dismiss the idea that the co-founder of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers the Byrds, as well as the Flying Burrito Brothers, Manassas, and Desert Rose Band, never longed for bright lights. But his confession actually hints at a deeper truth: Hillman didn't dream of his name on a marquee because ultimately, he was meant for something far greater. Chris Hillman is more than a rock star. He is one of the architects of American music.

Hillman's new album Bidin' My Time puts that pedigree on ferocious display. Produced by Tom Petty and executive produced by Herb Pedersen, the project captures a rarity: an icon who has never sounded better, making music with old friends for the sheer love of it. "I did everything I felt was right in the moment," Hillman says of the recording process, before adding with characteristic sincerity, "I did my very best. That's all any of us can do."

Herb Pedersen
Herb began his career in Berkeley, California in the early 60's playing 5 string banjo and acoustic guitar with people like David Grisman, Butch Waller, David Nelson, and Jerry Garcia. Herb has done well in adding his talents to the recordings of many folk and country music artists of today.

For the last thirty years, Herb has lived in southern California, and participated in select music groups, either in recording, or traveling on the road doing concerts. His recording discography is like a who's who of the singer/songwriter scene, so prevalent in the 70s and 80s. His own groups, like The Desert Rose Band, and The Laurel Canyon Ramblers, show why Herb is so respected in the industry.

With his lifelong pal, Chris Hillman, Herb is in the process of continuing the type of music they both grew up playing and singing. There is a work in progress most of the time and that's the way Herb likes it.

Television and motion picture sound tracks are something Herb has been involved in since the early 70s. Shows like The Rockford Files, Smokey and The Bandit, the Maverick movie with Mel Gibson, Hunter, The Simpsons, have used Herb either on 5 string banjo, or vocals for many years.

Artists like Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill, Johnny Rivers, Dan Fogelberg, James Taylor, Gordon Lightfoot, Jennifer Warnes, John Prine and Jesse Winchester have used Herb's talents in the past, and in all probability will continue to do so …From Carnegie Hall to the Ryman auditorium, Herb's been on the scene enjoying every minute of it.

Chris Hillman & Herb Pedersen