Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen at the John Anson Ford Theatre, Hollywood, California August 17, 2003
Imagine a very tranquil setting in the Hollywood Hills on a cool Sunday evening just following a typically hot summer night - and suddenly the air is pierced in a gentle way by the rich, harmonious voices of two of the very best singers in Folk, Bluegrass and Country Rock music.
For the nearly 1000 in attendance at the lovely John Anson Ford theatre, located directly across the 101 freeway from the better-known Hollywood Bowl, this wasn't imagination, but reality as the voices of Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen filled the California night sky. Their voices were so brilliant, so crystal clear, that even the deer in the surrounding hills came down to listen in!
While their set included well-known selections - "Love Reunited", "Willow Tree", "To A Heart Always True", "Turn, Turn, Turn" and a spirited rendition of "Wheels", both Chris and Herb threw in a number of newer songs (could it be that another album is in the works??), and a very neat segue' from Buck and Don's "Above and Beyond" to their own "Bakersfield Bound" which celebrated the perseverance of the "Okies" like Owens and Haggard who settled in the San Joaquin Valley. For the second set, Chris sang a very well-received rendition of Gene Clark's wistful "Tried So Hard" which he himself recorded with the Hillman-Roberts-Leadon Burritos in 1970.
When Chris invited the audience to join him and Herb in singalong to "You Ain't Going Nowhere" - the voices could have reached the Hollywood Bowl!
And this will come as a surprise as the dynamic duo weren't even the headliners! That choice went to a bluegrass outfit known as the Lynn Morris Band. The Southern California Bluegrass Association was so impressed that they purposely extended C&H'S second set by another 15 minutes!
One final note: While I have seen Chris and Herb perform many, many times, this was the first time that I have heard them sing in an open-air amphitheatre surrounded by hilly terrain on a summer's night. It can be summed up in a three-word sentence - warm and wonderful.
It really couldn't get any better than this.