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Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Chris Hillman headed to Bonita

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BY NANCY STETSON

Chris Hillman with Herb Pedersen and John Jorgenson

When: 8 p.m. Friday, April 28

Where: Centers for the Performing Arts Bonita Springs

Cost: $35-$45

Info: 495-8989 or www.artcenterbonita.org

 

OVER THE COURSE OF HIS musical career, Chris Hillman has enjoyed enough success to satisfy several lifetimes.

At 19, he became an original member of The Byrds, whose lineup included David Crosby and Roger McGuinn. They savored international fame, hitting the charts with songs such as “Eight Miles High,” “Turn! Turn! Turn,” “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “So You Want to Be a Rock and Roll Star,” which Mr. Hillman co-wrote with Mr. McGuinn. The Byrds were pioneers in folk rock and country rock.

Four year later, Mr. Hillman joined what became The Flying Burrito Brothers, writing songs including “Sin City” with Gram Parsons.

Then he became part of Stephen Stills’ band, Manassas, co-writing “It Doesn’t Matter” with Mr. Stills, among other songs. With John David Souther and Richie Furay he formed Souther Hillman Furay, releasing two albums in 1974 and ’75. Then he joined forces with two fellow bandmates from The Byrds, Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark, to form the trio McGuinn, Clark and Hillman. They released three albums and had two Top 10 singles.

 

From 1987-1993, he performed as lead guitarist, singer and mandolin player for The Desert Rose Band. They had 16 Top 10 country chart hits.

“I’ve been very blessed, lucky, any way you want to term it,” Mr. Hillman says. “I really enjoyed music, loved music. It was a passion as a young man, but it was a different world in the ’60s.”

He kept thinking he’d do music for a year, and then go to college to major in English literature and history. “But something would always happen,” he says. “Every year, a door would open and I’d go through it and something would happen musically.”

In hindsight, he adds, he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. “I was in these great groups. I was not seeking to be a rock star. I liked to play. I was more of a team player.”

He views the years from 1963-1985 as his apprentice years. By 1985, however, “I was running the band, writing the songs and playing lead. I have no regrets. If it stopped tomorrow, I had a great life.”

Now 72 years old, Mr. Hillman is still making music. Mr. Pedersen and Mr. Jorgenson join him in concert Friday evening, April 28, at the Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs.

“We have a very close bond,” Mr. Hillman says about the three musicians, noting that they’ve been making music together for more than 25 years.

Mr. Hillman and Mr. Pedersen put out an album titled “At Edwards Barn,” which includes “Eight Miles High” and “Have You Seen Her Face.” On it, Mr. Hillman, playing mandolin, celebrates his bluegrass roots.

As a teen before joining The Byrds, he played coffeehouses with The Scottsville Squirrel Barkers.

“I had to bluff my way into that job (with The Byrds),” he recalls. “‘Can you play the bass?’ ‘Sure, sure.’ I had never touched one.”

The chemistry with the band was “really, really good for a few years” — but not like the bond he has with Mr. Pedersen and Mr. Jorgenson.

“That’s part of a successful musical band,” he says, “the respect for each other. It’s not always perfect, but you have to strive for that, and the music will come right alongside it.”

He and Mr. McGuinn co-wrote “So You Want to be a Rock and Roll Star,” inspired by The Monkees, a group created by TV producers for a sit-com. The song, he says, was a comment about how contrived the whole process was of bringing together four strangers and trying to pretend they were a band like The Beatles. “They trivialized the whole thing with music.”

“Here we are, jaded old men in our 20s, ‘And with your hair swung right/and your pants too tight,’” he quotes from “So You Want to be a Rock and Roll Star.”

The Byrds, inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1991 by Don Henley, made music that still holds up today. Part of that is due to the good advice they received.

“Our first manager gave us such wisdom,” Mr. Hillman says. “He said, ‘You guys go for substance and depth, make records you’re going to be proud of in 40 years. Don’t go for the easy hit record, the easy dollar. Do something you’ll be proud of.’”

Mr. Crosby and Mr. McGuinn were about three years older, and “pretty world-wise in a sense. Roger had been all over as an accompanist — he worked with The Limeliters, the Chad Mitchell Trio, Judy Collins. He had written in the Brill Building, he’d written for Bobby Darin,” he says. “And David, too, had been all over the country as a folk singer.

“Their intellects were quite advanced for their age. We were listening to John Coltrane and Miles Davis and Ravi Shankar before anybody knew about Ravi.”

What unlocked his own songwriting was working with South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela. When he came home from that session, he recalls, he just started writing songs.

“It somehow unlocked the door,” he says. “I wrote a song a few days later, ‘Have You Seen Her Face.’”

The Byrds came along just as the bohemian age was closing down, he says. “It was a different time creatively, musically, with books, film, all of the above.

“We would get these interesting people coming to see us. Lenny Bruce came to see us in the studio, and his gang of people. We looked up and saw him behind the mixing board. It was ’64. We had one foot in that time period of the beatnik, bohemians.”

Beat poet Allen Gingsberg loved The Byrds, he says, recalling meeting him at a Greenwich Village party.

He remembers playing a private party for Jane Fonda when she was married to French film director Roger Vadim.

“We’re in Malibu and I’m playing, and I feel someone pulling on my pants leg,” he says. “It’s Henry Fonda, and he says, ‘Can you turn that thing down?’ ‘Yes sir, yes sir.’

“Of course we didn’t.”

Mr. Hillman’s mother bought him his first guitar for $10.

“But when I was 14 or 15, I heard the mandolin, bluegrass, old-timey music,” he says. “I loved it. I don’t know what it was, but I got into it, and been struggling with it for 55 years … In the old days, you didn’t have DVDs that taught you to play, or YouTube. All the guys my age would slow down records (to learn songs note-by-note.) But I didn’t have the patience.”

He’d learn 80-90 percent of the notes and then make up the rest.

When he teaches the mandolin, he tells students, “Play it your own way.”

He doesn’t remember the first bluegrass song he ever heard, but guesses it was likely something by the New Lost City Ramblers with Mike Seeger on mandolin.

“He was a solo god,” Mr. Hillman says about Mr. Seeger. “I love the mandolin. It’s so adaptable to any kind of music. You can play jazz on it.”

He owns “at least five or six” of them, one, “a beautiful old Gibson” so valuable he won’t take it on the road.

As a teen, he played “hillbilly bars,” playing bluegrass with three guys who were 10 years older than him. He had a fake ID. “I was 18 and had an ID that said I was 21. No one believed that.”

But yet, they let him play in their clubs.

“I remember playing the night John Kennedy was killed,” he says. “There were four people in the bar that night.”

As an older musician with decades of experience behind him, he finds himself playing differently these days.

“Every young guy, any guitar player, instrumentalist, soloist, when you’re young you’re playing everything in the world, thousands of notes per measure.

“And when you get older — I guess this applies to life too — you understate things and deal with more subtleties … I approach my playing differently: I play it simply and put more into each note, rather than 40 notes in the same time frame. It applies to any creative part of life; you change your approach. You approach life differently.”

He’s writing a memoir, with pencil and legal pad, though he modestly wonders, “Does the world really want another aging ex-rock star memoir?”

But, he says, he “wrote down the whole journey through the music, the passion I had for it, the people I worked for.”

He’s calling it “Time Between,” after one of the first songs he wrote with the The Byrds.

He recently recorded another album, “Bidin’ My Time,” set for release Sept. 22 and co-produced by Tom Petty and Mr. Pedersen, who play on some of the songs.

“It just fell into my lap,” he says. “I’m not chasing a career. I wanted to make a really good record. I wanted one last hurrah.

“It’s still a lot of fun to get up and play. If people buy your ticket and if you can still sing and play at a certain level of musicianship, then why the heck not?” ¦

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Herencia De Timbiqui

SATURDAY, APRIL 15,   8pm
Center for Performing Arts – Hinman Auditorium

10150 Bonita Beach Rd. Bonita Springs, Florida
Tickets: $50 Premium Seats | $45 Center Seats | $40 Side Seats
(10% off for current CFABS Members)

Experience the explosion of musical energy, Latin American flavor and unique rhythms of Colombia’s powerhouse musical ensemble, Herencia de Timbiqui!

Enjoy the music that masterfully mixes the ancestral sounds of the Afro-Colombian Pacific with elements of urban contemporary music. The eleven-member ensemble has performed throughout South America, Central America and Europe.

Join us for this high energy-performance and dance along to the unique rhythms and instrumentation of Colombia with Herencia de Timbiqui.

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For more information please call 239-495-8989 or visit www.artcenterbonita.org

ACOUSTIC STORYTELLERS MUSIC AND STORIES FROM THE ROAD Thursday, December 3, 2015; 8:00pm at the Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs

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By Patrice Shields

Three of music’s most well-tuned and road worthy musicians Alan James, Graham Gillot and Ray Nesbit take you on an exclusive ‘behind the scenes’ look at life on tour with legends including Roy Orbison, Rodriguez, Goo Goo Dolls, Traveling Wilburys, Moody Blues and others. Enjoy music and stories from the road with “Acoustic Storytellers” Thursday, December 3, 8:00pm at the Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs’ Hinman Auditorium. Enjoy the humor, hear the tragedies, and share the triumphs and stories behind the songs. Share a glimpse of the personal lives on the road and the concert performances.

Performers include Alan James, who many may know from his group Powerhouse, a band considered one of a premier corporate act playing for Donald Trump, President Bush twice, multiple celebrity weddings, three Super Bowls and high profile celebrity fundraisers. James hails from London England and has an extensive career in the music business. As a young musician in London he became one of the most in demand rock guitar players on the club circuit and was recognized in circles with such notables as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Peter Frampton. His first single on Columbia Records was recorded at Abbey Road Studios and had a chart success amongst some of the all-time classic rock hits of that era. As a young guitarist Alan spent several years traveling and entertaining U.S. forces around the world living in Greece, Turkey, Germany, France and Italy.

Alan was hired to be the lead guitarist and vocalist for International singing star Roy Orbison and went on to become Roy’s musical director and personal manager for twelve years and has performed at all the major venues around the globe.

Joining James for this performance is guitarist Ray Nesbit, who has traveled around the US working with members of ACDC, Goo Goo Dolls, Moody Blues, Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers, and many more. A highlight of his career was performing a fundraising show with AC/DC. “Yeah, I got to be Malcolm Young for one night,” he remembers.

Virtuoso guitarist, singer and composer Graham Gillot rounds off the performance with his showmanship and musical range on the guitar. Gillot played lead guitar for Rodriguez, star of the 2012 Oscar winning film “Searching for Sugarmann” and was featured on NBC’s #1 show of the summer “America’s Got Talent.”

Gillot has performed in shows, festivals, theatres, concerts and stadiums internationally around the world including the US, UK, Dubai, Turkey, Spain and South Africa. After accomplishing a study record by obtaining Grade 8 Classical Guitar in just two years of study through Trinity College London, he is considered to be a new century guitar maestro.

Guests of “Acoustic Storytellers” will take away their own stories to share after this unique musical event.

Tickets for “Acoustic Storytellers,” are $40 for Premium Seats, $35 Center Seats and $30 Side Seats. Tickets may be purchased on-line at www.artcenterbonita.org, by calling 239-495-8989 and at the door 30 minutes before the performance.

Those who join the Centers for the Arts for the first time as an individual member receive two VIP tickets to a select Live at the Center performance. The Centers for the Arts offers this benefit for first time members for select performances including “Acoustic Storytellers.”

The Centers for the Arts offers a full performance and film series including “Improv Tonight,” December 5, 8:00pm, “Meet the Composers Classical Music Series-Brahms & Clara a Love Story,” December 6, 3:00pm, “Naples Klezmer Band,” December 12, 8:00pm, “Flamenco Puro,” December 17, 8:00pm and “Films for Film Lovers” foreign and independent film series on Monday evenings. Tickets for all of the events listed can be purchased at www.artcenterbonita.org or by calling the Centers for the Arts Bonita Springs at 239-495-8989.

IF YOU GO:

WHO:     The Centers for the Arts of Bonita Springs
WHAT:   Acoustic Storytellers-Music and Stories from the Road
WHEN:   Thursday, December 3, 2015; 8:00pm
WHERE: The Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs, 10150 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs, FL
PRICE: Tickets: $40 Premium Seats, $35 Center Seats, $30 Side Seats

 

A TRUMPET CALL TO JAZZ LOVERS – A NIGHT OF JAZZ WITH BOB ZOTTOLA Friday, May 6, 8:00pm at the Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs

Bob Zotola

By Patrice Shields

The versatile and accomplished trumpet master Bob Zottola has played with the best performers in the music industry. His resume of accompaniments includes music legends Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, Rosemary Clooney, Stevie Wonder, Mel Torme, and Peggy Lee. Zottola brings his classic quintet “Jazz Simpatico,” to the Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs, Friday, May 6, 8:00pm for “A Night of Jazz: From Louis Armstrong to Miles Davis.”

In addition to providing the trumpet sound behind some of the most memorable voices in musical history, Zottola played for the hottest show on Broadway including West Side Story, Chicago, 42nd Street, Hello Dolly and a 16-year run with Les Miserables. With a history that includes the entire who’s who of the music industry, one might think Zottola would find the audiences of Southwest Florida anticlimactic, but he loves playing for local jazz fans.

“There’s something very, very special about who I call ‘The Naples Jazz Lovers.’ Part of it might be the nostalgia factor. They lived through the big band era,” says Zottola.

Zotolla’s program for the evening traces the evolution of Jazz through the myriad of innovative musicians. Zottola and his band highlight the great music of two major Jazz influences, Louis (Satchmo) Armstrong and Miles Davis. Follow the development of Jazz as an American art form and enjoy Latin, Afro-Cuban music, then on to the great voice of Billie Holiday. The evening includes music from Bob’s ‘Old Boss’ the Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra.

If you are a jazz lover, then heed the trumpet call of the great Bob Zottola and get your tickets for “A Night of Jazz,” at the Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs. Tickets are $22 Members, $27 Non-members, $32 at the door for all and can be purchased on-line at http://www.artcenterbonita.org or by calling the Center for the Arts at 239-495-8989.

Those who join the Centers for the Arts for the first time as an individual member receive a free 4-, 5-, or 6- week class, and those who join for the first time as a family member receive a free 4-, 5-, or 6- week class and two free tickets to a Live! Performance, including “A Night of Jazz.” The Centers for the Arts offers this benefit for first time members and it is for a limited time only. The class and performance must be used before December 31, 2016.

The Centers for the Arts offers a full performance series including “Improv Tonight,” Saturday, May 7, 8:00pm, “Meet the Composers Multimedia Series,” Sunday, May 8, 3:00pm, “Fiddler on the Roof Jr.,” Friday & Saturday, May 13 & 14, 7:00pm & Saturday & Sunday, May 14 & 15 2:00pm, and “Films for Film Lovers” foreign and independent film series on Monday evenings. Tickets for all of the events listed can be purchased at http://www.artcenterbonita.org or by calling the Centers for the Arts Bonita Springs at 239-495-8989.

IF YOU GO:

WHO: The Centers for the Arts of Bonita Springs
WHERE: The Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs, 10150 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs, FL 34135
WHAT: A Night of Jazz: From Louis Armstrong to Miles Davis
WHEN: Friday, May 6, 2016; 8:00pm
COST: Tickets: $22 Members, $27 Non-members, $32 At Door

 

 

COME FLY AWAY WITH THE HELIOS SWINGTET ORCHESTRA Bryan Hughes and Tampa’s Top Musician’s Bring Big Band to Bonita Springs Friday, April 15, 8:00pm at the Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs

bryan Hughes Helios

By Patrice Shields

The Helios Swingtet Orchestra, directed by Dr. David Manson blend their very danceable ‘Big Band’ sound with the Sinatra like vocals of Bryan Hughes for a performance at the Centers for Performing Arts Bonita Springs this Friday, April 15, 8:00pm. The 10-piece Helios Swingtet Orchestra features singer Hughes and top jazz musicians from the Tampa Bay area. Helios Swingtet’s sound is smart, stylish and great for dancing.

Led by trombonist Dr. David Manson, the group plays a wide range of music including Swing, Great American Songbook standards, Latin jazz, Rat Pack favorites, ballads, Bossa Nova, Dixieland, Tin Pan Alley and more. Vocalist Bryan Hughes lends his unmistakable, smooth as dry martini, voice to the band as they perform Big Band favorite songs made popular by the great Frank Sinatra.

The Helio’s Band is a popular feature in the Tampa area, with performances at the Clearwater Jazz Festival, Palladium Theater, Ybor Jazz Festival, Sarasota Big Band Bash, the Salvador Dali Museum and the St. Petersburg Jazz Festival. Bring your best guy or gal along this Friday night because this music was made for dancing and the CPABS dance floor is open for this performance.

Tickets for “Helios Swingtet Orchestra,” are $30 for members of the Centers for the Arts, $35 for non-members and $40 at the door for all. Tickets for “Helios Swingtet Orchestra” can be purchased on-line at http://www.artcenterbonita.org or by calling the Center for the Arts at 239-495-8989.

Those who join the Centers for the Arts for the first before time as an individual member receive two VIP tickets to a select Live at the Center performance including “Helios Swingtet Orchestra.” The Centers for the Arts offers this benefit for first time members for select performances. This offer is valid through May 31, 2016.

The Centers for the Arts offers a full performance series including “Patchouli & Terra Guitar: The Landscape of Guitar,” April 22, 8:00pm, “The BonArts Chamber Music Series: Russian/Bohemian Music Salon,” April 27, 7:00pm, “Meet the Composers: Beethoven the Bold,” May 1, 3:00pm and “Films for Film Lovers” foreign and independent film series on Monday evenings. Tickets for all of the events listed can be purchased at http://www.artcenterbonita.org or by calling the Centers for the Arts Bonita Springs at 239-495-8989.

IF YOU GO:

WHO: The Centers for the Arts of Bonita Springs
WHAT: Helio’s Swingtet Orchestra – Big Band Music

WHERE: Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs
WHEN: Friday, April 15, 2016; 7:30pm
COST: Tickets: $30 members, $35 non-members, $40 at the door for all

 

A JOYOUSE SOUND – THE BAY SINGERS CHORALE OF 70 Friday, April 1, 7:30pm at the Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs

By Patrice Shields

Join Pianist and Chorale Director Cynthia Dallas for an evening filled with the joyous voices of the 70 member “Bay Singers,” Friday, April 1, 7:30pm at the Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs. Founded in 1998, the Bay Singers have grown into a chorale of almost 70 that perform traditional Holiday music, Broadway Shows, Americana Classics, Spirituals and Patriotic music throughout the area. This season, The Bay Singers are lead by Cynthia Dallas, who has served as Principal Piano with the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra since 1989, and was the founding assistant conductor/accompanist of the Philharmonic Center Chorale.

Dallas received her degree in music from Temple University in Philadelphia, where she graduated summa cum laude. While in Philadelphia, she served as conductor and music director for over 60 regional and equity musical theater productions and was on the theatre staff at St. Joseph’s University, LaSalle University and Beaver College. She also served as choral contractor for the Pennsylvania Ballet productions of The Nutcracker and Carmina Burana, and performed on the PBS production of Verdi’s Requiem with Luciano Pavarotti.

In her tenure with the NPO, she has had the privilege of accompanying Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Denice Graves, Frederica von Stade and Renee Fleming, and performed with a wide range of stars from Frank Langella and Eli Wallach to George Takei and Hayley Mills. In addition to her orchestra and show work, Cindy is the Assistant Director of Music at St. Agnes Parish in Naples. She returns to the Bay Singers as Music Director, having served as accompanist for three seasons from 2010 to 2013.

Tickets for “The Bay Singers,” are $20 Members, $25 Non-members, $30 at the door for all and can be purchased on-line at http://www.artcenterbonita.org or by calling the Center for the Arts at 239-495-8989.

Those who join the Centers for the Arts for the first before time as an individual member receive two VIP tickets to a select Live at the Center performance including “The Bay Singers.” The Centers for the Arts offers this benefit for first time members for select performances. This offer is valid through March 31, 2016.

The Centers for the Arts offers a full performance series including “Improv Tonight,” Saturday, April 2, 8:00pm, “Meet the Composers Multimedia Series,” April 3, 3:00pm, “Tuesday Art Talks,” April 5, 7:00pm, “Mama Cooks it Up,” April 9, 7:30pm and “Films for Film Lovers” foreign and independent film series on Monday evenings. Tickets for all of the events listed can be purchased at http://www.artcenterbonita.org or by calling the Centers for the Arts Bonita Springs at 239-495-8989.

IF YOU GO:

WHO: The Centers for the Arts of Bonita Springs
WHAT: The Bay Singers Chorale Performance
WHERE: Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs
WHEN: Friday, April 1, 2016; 7:30pm
COST: Tickets: $20 Members, $25 Non-members, $30 At Door