Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Chris Hillman (The Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers) and The Ash Grove Foundation with founder Ed Pearl received FAR-West Best of the West honors.The Best of the West Awards were established by FAR-West in 2005 to honor individuals who have maintained an enduring presence in the folk and acoustic music scene in the West, inspiring others by embodying folk values and traditions. The awards will be presented at the 10th annual FAR-West Conference on October 10-13, 2013.
CHRIS HILLMAN, a third generation Californian, was born in Los Angeles in 1944. With a love of early Rock and Roll and Folk music, Chris began learning guitar and mandolin in 1960. Pursuing his love of Bluegrass Music, he eventually joined the “Scottsville Squirrel Barkers” as their mandolin player. He remained with the Squirrel Barkers for a year and then joined the popular “Golden State Boys” who were based in Los Angeles. With members Vern and Rex Gosdin and banjoist Don Parmely, they made an album that was later placed on the Sugarhill label and is still in print after 48 years.
In the summer of 1964, Hillman was recruited to play electric bass for a new band, The Byrds. Through various Number One hit songs such as “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” The Byrds established themselves as a cornerstone in the new culture and music of the Sixties. In 1967, Hillman established himself as a songwriter with his first effort, “Time Between” which along with many other Hillman compositions was featured on The Byrds album “Younger then Yesterday”. After his tenure with The Byrds, Hillman, along with Gram Parsons, formed The Flying Burrito Brothers in 1969.
The Burrito Brothers paved the way for the many Country and Alternative Rock groups to emerge in the coming decades.
From “The Flying Burrito Brothers” to “Manassas” and then on to Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, Chris Hillman continued to develop as a singer and songwriter. In the early 1980’s, Hillman, along with John Jorgenson, Herb Pedersen, Bill Bryson, Jay Dee Maness and Steve Duncan, formed the critically acclaimed “Desert Rose Band.” They garnered Number One country singles throughout the decade, including “One Step Forward”, “Summer Wind” and “He’s Back and I’m Blue”. By the mid-nineties, Hillman and Pedersen began performing as an acoustic duo. Their most recent recording, “At Edwards Barn”, continues Hillman’s long-running love for the music he embraced many years ago.
In 1991 Chris Hillman was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Byrds and has received numerous accolades for his songwriting spanning a 50-year period.
Beyond his musical endeavors, Hillman has been invited to lecture at the Library of Congress, the Grammy Museum and the Getty Museum. Hillman continues to perform with Pedersen as a duo and as of recent the expansion to the quartet line up adding Bill Bryson and guitar phenomenon John Jorgenson.
For more information, see www.chrishillman.com/
ED PEARL had his first taste of producing folk music concerts as a student at UCLA in 1954 when he helped produce a Pete Seeger concert on campus. An avid guitar player, he studied with Bess Lomax Hawes -- the daughter of John and sister of Alan Lomax, America's greatest music collectors. Bess was the female member of the “Almanac Singers”, with Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Butch Hawes, et al. After various career jaunts, as a guitar teacher, bus driver, messenger, a gun shill at the LA County Fair, a playground director and a mathematics analyst at Edwards Air Force Base, in 1957, he and Kate Hughes began the process that led to the Ash Grove. Together, they produced their first, real concert - a sold-out flamenco extravaganza and then in the next months, two more sold-out concerts, visited four coffeehouses and then they were asked to book two nightclubs. Envisioning a different atmosphere, with financing from fellow music-lover and Standard Brands Paints VP Sid Greenberg, Ed embarked on a search for a locale for a club of his own. With friends and relatives contributing funds and cheap labor, the lease was signed and the site was converted into the Ash Grove.
The Ash Grove opened on Friday, July 11th, 1958 and for the next 15 years hundreds of notable artists, reflecting a variety of folk styles, blues, bluegrass, gospel and traditional work songs, appeared on the its stage: Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thornton, Lightnin' Hopkins, Johnny Cash, Doc Watson, the Byrds, Taj Mahal, Ravi Shankar, The Chambers Brothers, Rambling Jack Elliott, Sleepy John Estes, Pete Seeger, to name a few. Ed produced shows at the Ash Grove until November 1973, when the disaster of the third arson fire in four years closed the club. Next Ed raised funds for LA's People's College of Law, on whose behalf, he organized a series of very successful concerts along the West Coast, from Seattle to San Diego, with Phil Ochs, Holly Near and Mimi Farina, among others.
For five years, on behalf of LAGLAS (the Los Angeles Group for Latin America Society) Ed produced concerts of Chilean groups Quilapayun, Inti-Ilimani, Los Parra and others, in addition to Mercedez Sosa of Mexico, Daniel Viglietti of Uruguay, Roy Brown of Puerto Rico and several other superb, progressive musicians.
Other notable productions include; 1976 a People's Bi-Centennial, The Venice/SPARC show of 1980, The 1985 KPFK Winter-fest, Art Against Apartheid Show of 1987-8, The 1984 LA Olympics Reception, the PCL shows-Gil Scott-Heron, et al, The Ash Grove Wiltern 30th Anniversary show of 1988, with David Crosby and the Byrds, Willie Dixon, et al; the final Mime Troupe show; and The Ash Grove on the Santa Monica Pier. In 2008, “The Ash Grove 50th Anniversary” was celebrated at UCLA! Ash Grove alumni who shared their appreciation for the anniversary celebration included Ry Cooder, Taj Mahal, along with the likes of John Hammond, Barbara Dane, Bernie Pearl, The Freedom Singers, Michelle Shocked and numerous others. But the real star was the memory of a place in which so much music, so many ideas, and so many attitudes had the opportunity to come to full fruition
Many artists have Ed Pearl to thank for helping their careers along. He's known and worked with just about everyone.
The Ash Grove Foundation - Mission Statement
The Ash Grove Foundation is a community-based cultural arts organization that produces and promotes traditional, contemporary, and ground-breaking folk music from diverse cultures to spark social understanding and activism.
We work closely with local communities, artists and activists to share traditional art forms and foster opportunities for harmony, understanding and co-operation, in order to promote healthy communities, creative expression, communication and compassion.
The Ash Grove is a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation based in Southern California and operating globally - on the ground, on-air and via the Internet. For more information, see: www.ashgrovemusic.com
Chris Hillman, The Ash Grove Foundation and Ed Pearl join previous Best of the West winners including performers Lowen & Navarro, Utah Phillips, Rosalie Sorrels, The Kingston Trio, Joe Craven, John McEuen, Laurie Lewis and Barry McGuire, and ambassador honorees Howard and Roz Larman, Steve Baker, Clark and Elaine Weissman, Mike McCormick, Bob Stane, Cloud Moss, and Phil and Vivian Williams, and Arhoolie Records Founder, Chris Strachwitz.
The criteria for receiving the awards are as
*Excellence in one's craft.
*Enduring presence in the geographical FAR-Western folk community for a decade or more. *Embodies or builds upon Folk values and traditions.
*Promotes, nurtures, fosters, expands the audience and opportunities for folk music and musicians in the geographical FAR-West.