"I can't believe I'm seeing these guys in Oakleigh!" exclaimed my Oakleigh dwelling friend, as we took our seats at the quaint Caravan Music Club. It was a fitting venue for the duo, the old Oakleigh RSL, now equipped as an outer suburban live music venue. The building had an old fashioned ambience, which I suppose could also describe the music of the star attractions.
Brent Parlane, a seasoned troubadour of similar vintage to Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen, opened the show with a short, pleasant set, showcasing his own repertoire of Australian country music tunes. These included To Your Door, It's Alright Now, Louise and Born Just Right.
Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen no sooner had stepped onto the stage and launched into a rendition of Desert Rose, than we knew we were in for a superb evening of classic 60s & 70s music. It was the real thing, and transported the baby boomers in the audience back to the heady days of their youth, when The Byrds were superstars of the rock n roll scene.
Both Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen were prime movers in the emergence of the so called country rock sound, Hillman collaborating frequently Gram Parsons, the tragic icon of genre, whose music continues to inspire and influence Alt Country artists, Ryan Adams, and The Jayhawks, for instance.
Taking a trip through time, Chris and Herb played many of their classic songs, the John Hiatt penned, and Desert Rose Band hit, She Don't' Love Nobody, Turn, Turn, Turn, the famous Pete Seeger song, with lyrics drawn from The Book of Ecclesiastes, so Chris Hillman informed us, Sin City, co written by Chris and Gram Parsons, If I Could Only Win Your Love which was first performed by Emmylou Harris and the famous Dylan song Mr Tambourine Man which was a big hit for The Byrds in 1965.
Chris Hillman is a wonderful mandolin player, having adopted the instrument in his childhood, and Herb Pedersen was associated with the famous bluegrass band The Dillards, so several bluegrass tunes were included in the set, Rank Stranger and Old Crossroads to name a few.
In all, the duo performed twenty songs, ranging across time and musical genres, all played with verve and grace. It was that inimitable sound of the times emanating from the stage - sweet country rock, resplendent with superb harmonies and masterly musicianship.
The concert may have been performed in outer suburban Oakleigh, but the vibe engendered by the music evoked California of the 1960s/70s.