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Courtesy New Frontier Touring
Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen
Courtesy Crystal Bright
Thursday, August 15, 2013
This weekend’s music lineup in Roanoke features a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member who helped found The Byrds and an up-and-coming act that impressed listeners at FloydFest.
Chris Hillman, who in 1991 joined the rock hall with The Byrds, joins forces with another roots music master, Herb Pedersen, at Kirk Avenue Music Hall on Friday.
Crystal Bright & the Silver Hands, which finished second in 2013 FloydFest’s On the Rise audience participation contest, plays Friday night at a newer site, 501 Speakeasy.
Here is what you need to know about both acts.
The Byrds might be the biggest name on Hillman’s resume, but his collaborations with Gram Parsons in the Flying Burrito Brothers were arguably as important. He later joined Steven Stills’ short-lived but important group, Manassas.
Even into the 1980s, Hillman was making a mark, forming The Desert Rose Band, a country music phenomenon that lasted through the 1990s and produced such hits as “He’s Back and I’m Blue,” “One Step Forward” and “Come a Little Closer,” all of which Hillman co-wrote.
That band featured guitar acrobat John Jorgenson, as well as the multi-instrumentalist Pedersen, whose resume is as deep as Hillman’s, if not always as high profile.
Pedersen, a banjo man and guitarist, was an early bandmate of Jerry Garcia, and he played with The Dillards (aka The Darlings from “The Andy Griffith Show”) and the supergroup Old and in the Way — which included Garcia, fiddler Vassar Clements and Peter Rowan.
Together in October 2009 at Kirk Avenue Music Hall, Hillman and Pedersen brought forth a cache of tunes that included Byrds and Burritos tunes (“Eight Miles High,” “Sin City”) and some sweet covers (Ralph Stanley’s “Going Up Home to Live in Green Pastures” and the Buck Owens/Dwight Yoakam hit “Streets of Bakersfield”).
The pair sounded strong on that show, playing almost everything in a folky, bluegrassy style, telling jokes and dropping historical anecdotes throughout.
Growing a show
Crystal Bright & the Silver Hands, from Greensboro, N.C., were relatively unknown when they hit FloydFest last month. But by the time it was over, the band had impressed organizers enough to score an additional show on the festival’s ultimate day. And it had impressed audiences enough to finish second in the festival’s On the Rise contest.
Frontwoman Bright twisted old-world Gypsy-inspired melodies and wonderful vocal phrasing with her abilities on piano, accordion and, most impressively, the bowed hand saw. That is not an easy instrument to play with decent intonation. In fact, many who try torture the ear. But Bright’s musical talent, like her songwriting ability, is uncommon.
If Gogol Bordello was FloydFest’s gypsy/punk freak show , Bright and her band played an often more reserved version, bordering on classical at times. But she and her four-piece backing band did not lack for energy. The band shows all of it on a 2011 album, “Muses & Bones.”
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