Chris Hillman Talks Bass, Mentoring

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Chris Hillman is one of the headliners of this weekend's Tucson Folk Festival. You can read a full article about him in the April 29 edition. Here are some tidbits we did not have room for in the main story.

On the bass:
Chris Hillman first came to prominence in 1965 as the bass player for the Byrds. Originally a bluegrass mandolin player, he learned bass as he went. After the Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers, he played bass into the '70s, first in Stephen Stills’ band, Manassas, and later in the Souther Hillman Furay Band, before launching his solo career.

"That bass has got cobwebs on it in my closet," he said. "I played it about four years ago. Dwight Yoakam called me up to play on a tribute to Buck Owens, and it was going to be on the Academy of Country Music Awards TV show. Dwight said, 'I want you to play bass,' and I said, 'Oh boy, I haven't played bass in about 25 years.'

"So I pulled it out, and I hadn’t forgotten anything. We played a medley of Buck Owens songs with Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) on lead, and Brad Paisley on guitar. I really enjoyed playing bass, but I don’t have the opportunity that much any more. But right as we speak, it’s about 10 yards away in a closet with cobwebs on it."

On mentoring students and life-long learning:

"I have 3-4 students that I teach mandolin to. There’s a gentleman who lives a town over from me who used to be in the Tonight Show Orchestra with Doc Severinsen, and he played a lot of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin sessions. Bob Bain, he’s 84 years old, and I get guitar lessons from him. You're never too old to learn something new.

"I go over to Bob's house, and he's showing me jazz chords. On the other side of the coin, I'm teaching kids mandolin. It’s a natural thing. People took me under their wing, and I'm trying to do the same to the young ones coming up. Yet I'm still seeking out instruction."

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