12 NOV 10 JOHN C. BRUENING
When guitarist/bassist/songwriter Chris Hillman -- a founding member of the Byrds in the '60s and later a member of the Flying Burrito Brothers -- joined the Desert Rose Band in the 1980s, it marked a reunion of sorts with guitarist and songwriter Herb Pedersen. Hillman and Pedersen's association actually pre-dates the Byrds by a couple years. Across nearly five decades, the connection between the two remains intact, as evidenced by their latest collaboration, At Edwards Barn.
Recorded live at a November 2009 benefit concert at Edwards Barn (hence the title) in Nipomo, California, the album is a 16-track all-acoustic set that includes a mix of lesser-known country and gospel gems along with songs from the catalogs of all three of the aforementioned bands. Hillman on mandolin and Pederson on acoustic guitar are assisted by fiddler David Mansfield, guitarist Larry Park and bassist Bill Bryson.
Byrds classics like "Turn! Turn! Turn!" and "Eight Miles High" lose none of their original punch, despite their unplugged delivery here. From the Burrito Brothers era, Hillman and Pederson serve up an earnest rendition of "Wheels" and a cautionary "Sin City."
Other noteworthy tracks include a spirited take on "Love Reunited," an early hit by the Desert Rose Band; the slow but joyous "Together Again," originally recorded by Buck Owens; and Pederson's own "Wait a Minute," a wistful composition written in the early-'70s and delivered here with perfectly balanced vocal harmonies.
Hillman and Pedersen have logged nearly a century of music between the two of them. After all the years and the different projects along the way, the balance of honesty and simplicity in their music has been the key to their endurance.