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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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Culinary Battle for the Arts

Iron Chef blog

K2 Kitchens and K2 Design Group open the doors to its 2,000 sq.ft. kitchen showroom for a culinary battle between Bonita’s top chefs to benefit the Center for the Arts Youth Education Programs. Join us for inspired creativity and a little friendly competition, as four local chefs are challenged to create a dish incorporating a basket of “mystery items”. With guest judges and audience voting, it is up to the attendees to decide who takes home the trophy as the battle begins at 7! View featured art by some of the children while you enjoy wine and signature dishes by each of the chefs and bid on your favorite auction item during our Silent Auction starting at 6PM.

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Competing Chefs 

Kristina San Filippo – Chef & Owner of Purple Spoon Culinary
Jeremy Hatfield – Chef Partner at C Level Wine Bar & Bistro
Lisa Fidler – Executive Chef at Fine Mark National Bank & Trust
Sebastian Mancera – Chef & Owner of Juicelation

Be there Thursday, April 20th, 6-9pm and find out who can stand the heat of the kitchen! Proceeds benefit the Center for the Arts Youth Education Programs, providing art, music, theater and dance to thousands of local kids throughout the year.

For more information please call the Centers for the Arts at 239-495-8989 or email cfabs@artsbonita.org

What: Culinary Battle for the Arts
Where: K2 Kitchens & K2 Design Group, 25081 Bernwood Drive, Bonita Springs
When: Thursday, April 20, 2017 6 – 9pm
Cost: $50 per person

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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

Empty Bowls Event Benefiting CFABS Youth Programing

Guests at Empty BowlsThe Depth Cues Exhibition Opening Reception features an Empty Bowls experience in outside courtyard at the Center for Visual Arts Campus. Guests can purchase a beautiful handmade pottery bowl and sample varieties of delicious soups provided by local caterers. Funds from Empty Bowls benefit Meals on Wheels of Bonita Springs to help fill their annual Food Pantry, AMI Kids and the Centers for the Arts Bonita Springs Youth Scholarship Program. As part of the experience, enjoy musical entertainment, delicious soups created by local caterers and chefs while helping those in need. Empty Bowls donation is $10 for adults and $5 for youth.

Special Thanks to our Soup & Bread Roll Providers:
Russell’s Clambake, Cafe of Life, Meals on Wheels of Bonita Springs, Gabriela’s Special Soups, AMI Kids Big Cypress, Publix & Panera.

What: Empty Bowls Event
Where: Center for Visual Arts- 26100 Old 41 Rd.
When: Friday, April 7, 2017, from 6-8pm
Cost: Donation of $10 for Adults and $5 for kids.

Graciously Sponsored by
Henderson Franklin (large) logo

Audition Notice: Stage It! 10-Minute Play Competition

On February 18 & 19, 2017 CFABS will be staging performances of 12 of the winning plays from our first ever, Stage It! 10-Minute Play Competition and… WE NEED ACTORS! Robert De Niro once said, “One of the things about acting is it allows you to live other people’s lives without having to pay the price.”

We would like to invite you to take a chance at “living another person’s life without paying the price” by coming to audition for a role (or roles) in these fantastic short plays. Open auditions for the Stage it! 10 Minute Play Competition are being held at our Center for Performing Arts at 10150 Bonita Beach Rd. on Sunday, January 8, 2017 starting at 4:00pm. (Rehearsal schedules will depend upon the role, and cast member availability).  Performances will be held February 18 and 19 at the Center for Performing Arts.

We are looking to fill 36 roles, (18 men, 17 women and 1 child). The characters range in age from 10 – 70.  The audition is open, and all types are welcome.

The twelve outstanding plays being staged were each carefully selected by a jury consisting of 26 judges from across the nation. A brief description of the plays and the roles being cast is below:audition-notice

Counting On Love

by Rod McFadden

A discussion after a first date.

A smart romantic comedy.

VINCENT, 29 years old, magazine writer

SOPHIA, 27 years old NYU post-grad.

(math)

The Dating Game

by Rod McFadden

One single, one married, talking about

the current dating scene. Situational

comedy

MARGE, about 65 – 75

NETTIE, similar age as MARGE

Everyone’s Child

by Delvyn Case, Jr.

Kos, Greece, an island near where

refugees land. Dramatic.

PETER, young Greek male, age 14

KILIKINA, Greek woman,

mother of PETER

The Last Holdout

by Judd Lear Silverman

A menu change at a local senior center

finds the last holdout in final

negotiations with the only staff member

who can get the job done.

IVAN, a senior at the senior center

DOROTHY, at least 20 years Ivan’s junior,

administrator

Life Jacket

by Delvyn Case, Jr.

On a beach near Bodrum, Turkey and a

beach on the Greek Island of Kos, two

refugees cross dangerous waters.

GALIA, a Syrian woman refugee, age 20

AYLAN, a Syrian male refugee, age 20

AHMAD, a Turkish seller of life jackets to

refugees, age 28

The Nude

by William Newkirk

The opening of a new show at an art

gallery. Artist and her new model

meet accidental patron and the

snotty art critique.

CLAIRE, in her 50’s-ish

LISA, in her 50’s-ish

BRIAN, in his 50’s-ish

JEFFREY, in his 50’s-ish

Ode On A Donut Shop

by Ethan Warren

An existential, absurdist comedy

in a donut shop at 1:24 AM.

JUDD – in his 20s, a sweet and

somewhat vacant boy

SEAN – in his 20s, a sweet and

somewhat vacant boy

DWAYNE – in his 50s, friendly and

paternal but with a temper

MAN IN THE JACKET – in his 30s,

ominous and powerful

An Ordinary Woman

by Sean Patrick Nill

Ordinary Suzy Ponelle confesses a

series of vengeful crimes to the police.

SUZY PONELLE, female, late 20’s

to early 30’s

DETECTIVE MORROW, adult female, 30-40

DETECTIVE FEINSTEIN, adult female,

30-40

CAPTAIN MASTERSON, male, 40-50

 

The Professor And The Flea

by Denise Hinson

An odd farce based on a fable.

Presentational characters in an oddball,

artistic comedy.

THE PROFESSOR, 30-70s

CAPTAIN, 30-70s

GOVERNOR, 40s to 60s

WIFE OF GOVERNORE, 40s to 60s

PRINCESS, teens to 20s

The Promise

by Mary Lescoe-Long

A woman confronts her own demon,

literally. An emotional drama.

WOMAN, any age, preferably

late 40’s or early 50’s

BANSHEE, same age as WOMAN

Toil and Trouble

by Trevor Suthers

A retelling of Macbeth. A literal and

intellectual comedy, but still broad.

MAMMY, the grandmother witch

GRANNY, the mother witch

FANNY, the youngest of the witches

MACMETH, drug kingpin on some

crappy streets

Violating Uncle Piggy

by Judd Lear Silverman

Parental betrayal traded for loose change

must be explained in this interrogation

—Uncle Piggy was found violated.

MOMMY, 30ish

DADDY, 30s

INVESTIGATOR, a child

 

IF YOU COME TO AUDITION:

WHO: The Centers for the Arts Bonita Springs

WHAT:  Stage IT! 10-minute play competition

WHEN:  Auditions: 4:00pm, Sunday, January 8, 2017

Performances: Evening of February 18th & 19th, 2017

WHERE: The Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs, 10150 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs 34135

PRICE:  No fee to audition.

Films for Film Lovers Open for the Holidays

By Mickey Lacroix

As you are probably well aware, Christmas and New Years are right around the corner. Both holidays fall on a Sunday this year, so many locations are closed on the following Mondays.  As such, it might be easy to think that our Film for Film Lovers series would pack up its popcorn maker, and roll up the red carpet for these two weeks.  This, however, is not the case.  Not only will The Robert and Karin Moe Auditorium and Film Center be open on these two Mondays, but the movies selected for these weeks are timely choices reflective of the season.

For Monday, December 26th, the film committee has selected a powerful tale from Hong Kong, entitled “A Simple Life.”  In a nutshell, the movie is about an older woman who has worked as a servant (an amah) who, upon having a stroke, decides she wants to move into a nursing home, so as not to become a burden on the family she has been caring for for over sixty years, and her relationship with the youngest son of the family.  The film is ultimately a somber exploration of love, selflessness and finding contentment.  The films message might just be particularly poignant right after the bustle of the Christmas holiday.

Whether or not you end up suffering a bit from toasting “auld lang syne” with one too many “good-will draughts” – CFABS will be presenting the 2004 French film “Changing Times” on Monday, January 2nd.  In this film, two of Frances greatest modern actors, Gerard Depardeau and Catherine Deneuve team up to bring us a story about how a love from days gone by, (which is what “auld lang syne” means) never truly dies.   In addition to being a fine love story, the movie might provide a little motivation to those of us who make New Year’s resolutions, but might need a little extra push to fight for those changes we want to make going forward.

We hope you’ll join us at one or both of these exceptional films. We’ll have the popcorn ready, a selection of beverages to help wash them down, and even if the carpets in our film center aren’t red, our staff and volunteers will be ready to give you the red carpet treatment when you arrive.  Even if we don’t see you, all of us at the Centers for the Arts Bonita Springs hope you have a Festive Holiday Season and a Happy New Year.