Tribute to The Flying Burrito Brothers

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It's fair to say that Gram Parsons didn't trouble the charts much in his short life.  Despite that, he remains an influential, almost legendary, figure in American music.  

He was briefly in The Byrds and his influence saw them give their sound a country overhaul for their 'Sweetheart of the Rodeo' album.  Ultimately Gram Parsons vocals had to be removed from that album for legal reasons but it has his fingerprints all over it, not least in the standout track 'HIckory Wind', which he co-wrote.

Around about this time Gram Parsons was also great friends with everyone's favourite Rolling Stone, Keith Richards, spending all his free time jamming with the glimmer twin.  He reignited in Keith a passion for country music, influenced songs like 'Wild Horses' and there is even an unconfirmed rumour that he sang on 'Exile on Main St.

Tonight is billed as 'A Tribute to The Flying Burrito Brothers', however, the band actually features the vocals and guitar of the great Greg Harris who played with the Burritos between '79 and '90.   The evening is really more a tribute to Gram, the most famous of the Burrito's, as it also features songs from his time in The Byrds, and from the two near-flawless albums he recorded with Emmylou Harris.

I arrived a little bit late as sampling the wares at the Loch Leven brewery taproom across the road from the hotel.  If you are ever in Kinross, and you're not As the music strikes up I'm struck by how terrific the band is.  It's like walking into a honky-tonk bar from an American road movie. the designated driver, you should definitely factor in some time for a few scoops at this lovely little bar.

As the music strikes up I'm struck by how terrific the band is.  It's like walking into a honky-tonk bar from an American road movie.  Hard-hitting drums from Rich Newman, rock-solid bass from John McVie doppelganger Tony Morley, and sweet vocals and telecaster licks from frontman Greg Harris. 

It's the slide guitar though, that is the star of the show though.  Jeff Pevar really makes it sing on 'White Line Fever', one of the few post-Parsons Burrito's songs of the evening.  He's playing is so frenetic that his scarf gets tangled up in his fretting hand and he throws it the ground with a laugh.

I have to admit Jeff Pevar, was a big draw for me tonight.  I've been getting back into David Crosby recently.  He really seems to have got his sh%t together Flying Burritos - paverrecently and is making the best music of his life.  Jeff is part of Crosby's main band and he played on his phenomenal 2017 'Sky Trails' album, which for my money, is his best work since '71's 'If Only I Could Remember My Name'.

So, it's a great set of musicians, we've established that, but they also have a great setlist to back it up.  The songs strike a great balance between fast and slow, well-known and deep cuts.

Dylan's 'My Back Pages' and 'Mr Tambourine Man' initially seemed like odd choices until I remembered that Gram wasn't the only ex Byrd in the Burritos and that Chris Hillman played bass on these tracks.

'My Back Pages' is particularly good.  Greg's gruffer lead vocals make a great counterpoint to the rest of the band's harmonies.  Initially, the folk-rock 'Mr Tambourine Man' seems a little out of kilter with the country vibe but it provides a great showcase for some nifty solo-ing between Pevar and Harris, who is also slouch in the guitar-licks stakes.

'Do Right Woman, Do Right Man', is a pertinent reminder that The Flying Burrito Brothers were rolling soul into country music before alt-country bands like Lambchop were even a glint in their daddies eye.  I love Dan Penn's work (he co-wrote this) and he is still going strong, contributing songs to Yola Carter's recent album. 

A re-imagined Orange Blossom special makes another great opportunity for some solo-ing and finds Greg throwing some furious fiddle into the mix.  I love this performance, it seems very immediate, unpolished and full ragged glory.

Backstage at the Green is once again at capacity and the crowd call out for more as the guys leave the stage.  I think I even hear a shout of 'wan mair tune'.  The encore is a blistering version of the Burrito's version of Dave Dudley's 'Six Days On the Road'.

I was a weird kid, and so for my thirteenth birthday, I asked for a VHS copy 'Gimme Shelter' a documentary film about the disastrous Rolling Stones Altamont Music Festival.  The film captures The Flying Burrito brothers playing an amazing version of this song, and it's been one of my favourites ever since.

As always, Backstage at the Green hotel has provided another great evening entertainment.  The only downside for me is that 'Older Guys' didn't get an airing.  Oh well, you can't have everything.  I mean, where would you put it?

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