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Tour to Celebrate 50th Anniversary of 'Sweetheart of the Rodeo'

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Fifty years after its release, the Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo album remains a touchstone for lovers of the country-rock sound.

It hasn’t left our minds or our turntables, and apparently the Byrds’ Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman haven’t forgotten it, either: They’ve just announced a tour celebrating the album’s 50th anniversary. At each show (only five have been announced so far, but more are promised), McGuinn and Hillman will perform songs and tell the stories behind them. Serving as a backing band will be Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives.

"We're all looking forward to taking the fans through the back pages of the recording,” McGuinn said in a statement. “The concert will include songs that led up to that groundbreaking trip to Nashville and all the songs from the album."

Hillman and McGuinn have both been interviewed, separately, for ND's Best I’ve Ever Seen column. It’s always fun to find out who influenced the artists who came to influence so many others.

Here is an updated list of dates for the Sweetheart of the Rodeo tour:

Sept. 9 – Kansas City, MO – Folly Theater
Sept. 12 – Springfield, MO – Gillioz Theatre
Sept. 17 – Albany, NY – Hart Theater @ The Egg
Sept. 18 – Albany, NY – Hart Theater @ The Egg
Sept. 20 – Hopewell, VA – Beacon Theatre
Sept. 23 – New York, NY – The Town Hall (pre-sale begins Aug. 16)
Sept. 24 – New York, NY – The Town Hall
Sept. 26 – Boston, MA – Emerson Colonial Theatre
Oct. 3 – Akron, OH – Akron Civic
Oct. 8 – Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium
Oct. 10 – Roanoke, VA – Jefferson Center
Oct. 15 – Durham, NC – Durham Performing Arts Center
Oct. 21 – Atlanta, GA – Byers Theatre
Nov. 10 – Austin, TX – ACL Live 

David Crosby has been willing to do a Byrds reunion for at least the last twenty years. McGuinn has always said no, leave the past alone, I'm happy as a solo act. Now, suddenly, a "Country Period Byrds" tour appears.

I wonder how Crosby feels about this...of course McGuinn fired him well before Sweetheart was recorded, so he wouldn't be included in any tour based on that album.  Gram Parsons and Clarence White were the biggest influences on the album but they are gone, of course.

Roger McGuinn is a quirky guy, to say the least. Or maybe he really does hate Crosby, although they have seemed friendly of late. 

Well I will say this...getting Marty and the Superlatives as the back up band is an A+ move with symmetry...he has Clarence White's modified Telecaster, and he's one of the few people out there who can pick at a Calrence level...and Kenny Vaughn is one of the other few...and the harmoines will be spectacular whether Croz is there or not...but it is interesting...

Oh yeah, they are a hot, HOT band. Love 'em!

I see Marty using Clarence's string bender on his old TV shows, it's built into the guitar. Every once in a while he leans back and pushes down on the guitar strap and the note goes "woweee"...  

yep...you can still get your Tele modified with those last I knew as Gene Parsons and Clarence invented that little gizmo and Gene and some other guy still were installing them...you could get one on a Les Paul too...Marty still played that guitar (and only that one) when I saw him last fall...he played some mandolin too obviously...and he told the story about buying that guitar from Clarence's widow at the estate sale, I want to say he gave $1,400 for it, and that's 50 + years ago...it's modified quite a bit besides the B-bender, pickups, the body...good thing someone that can play like Marty got it and paid a fair price to the family for it...between Marty and Kenny Vaughn, the guitar playing is crazy in that band, and then Harry is a killer drummer and singer and so is Chris...they can tear it up...you walk away shaking your head...so despite Croz being missing, I can see myself getting excited about that...and like you said, that was the Gram period...but I saw Hillman with Herb Pedersen a couple of years ago and he can still get on it musically and his voice is great...Roger is supposedly still at a high level (I haven't seen him in a while), I'd definitely go to that show...

I love the album, but let’s just admit what this really is - a money grab, check out the prices. Not that there is anything wrong with that but let’s not get too deep into why tour now. 

I love the album, but let’s just admit what this really is - a money grab, check out the prices. Not that there is anything wrong with that but let’s not get too deep into why tour now. 

OK, it's a "money grab".

Fine.

Does anyone out there NOT need money? Would anyone sell their product, whatever it might be, for less than it is worth?

Go ahead and raise your hands.

Funny, I don't see anyone with their hands up. 

 

My hand is not up...I'm not sure exactly how much of a money grab it really is...that record is a long way from being the Byrds most popular record, I'd guess more casual Byrds fans wouldn't care much...it's only that McGuinn and Hillman, 2 of the original guys that are along for the ride, that makes it something you can call a money grab...they could have hired lessor musicians to tour with too, and they hired the best band in the business to play that music, Marty Stuart worshipped Clarence White, and the Superlatives are gonzo...this isn't going to sell out arenas either, even if the play some non-Sweetheart Byrds tunes, which I'd guess they will...

I saw Jackson Browne last night (for the 23rd time)...bought Guacamole fund seats, which aren't cheap, 2nd row, center...the extra over and above the ticket cost for those goes to his appointed charities...so does all of his t-shirt money...a lot of times you don't know where all the money goes anyway...lot more likely more of it goes either to the band, crew, or charity than you might think or know, depending on the artist involved...

Fascinating... we currently have a POTUS that the folks who voted for him did because they thought we needed a business man in DC...so he uses his twitter account to tank the stock market for the benefit of himself and his cronies or to hamper his (perceived) enemies, and uses the taxpayers and creditors to bail him out via bankruptcy every time he makes a bad investment, and he's a hero...musicians aren't supposed to be about money but if they do anything that makes it look like they may be trying to cash a check, they're bad guys?  I don't get that...I understand the point being made, but I still don't get it...

 

I don’t have anything against trying to cash a check but this is basically a high priced cover band charging pries like they are the original group. More power to them but I do not pay $500 to see a cover band do songs from one lip that is almost 40 years old. 

I don’t have anything against trying to cash a check but this is basically a high priced cover band charging pries like they are the original group. More power to them but I do not pay $500 to see a cover band do songs from one lip that is almost 40 years old. 

That's fine, we all spend our money as we see fit.

However...when you have two of the three original Byrds who made the album, and the other main singer besides McGuinn (Parsons) is dead, that's NOT a cover band.  What about all the other bands currently active with missing members? What about Yes, or Foreigner, or Bad Company, or Journey? Was Lynyrd Skynyrd a cover band for the last 20 years when the only original member was Gary Rossington? Well, maybe they were, but the fans didn't care.

BTW, I am not a fan of those bands. Just examples. 

The only reason I am picking on this group is the pricing. Leonard Cohen, cream, Led Zeppelin pricing. The groups you mention are asking way less than 25% of what these guys are asking. 

I don't mean to pick on you myself, just another music lover, but I think McGuinn and Hillman, plus Marty and the Superlatives are worth ten times the price to see all of those bands at once. Don't get me wrong-they're not coming my way and (as you correctly say) have priced themselves past what I would spend anyway-but those guys are freakishly talented. Saw Marty two years ago at a club and it was the show of the year for me, what a hot band. Caught Hillman at a house concert, he was ten feet away, and his voice is still a treasure. McGuinn outside was like a class in folk music but more fun..my ears rang for two days because he played solo acoustic but way too loud.

All together those guys will really tear it up.  

I'd pay a lot to see Cohen, Jack Bruce and John Bonham. Too bad...

Yep...I agree with all of that...you sort of have to have seen all of these people over the recent years to know how great this show is potentially...incredible band, absolute cream of the crop, and Hillman is still on top of his game...I would assume Roger is too...been a while since I've seen him, but this show has the potential to be one of the great shows ever considering the people involved...it's worth what they can get, even if I can't pay it...

Eagles currently are Don Henley plus Vince Gill, Glenn Frey's son Deacon, plus Joe Walsh, and Timmy Schmitt...so that's one original member...tickets run from $94 to over $1,000 per, or more for VIP...and people are buying and don't care...and the reviews are stellar as well...

Money grab or not, the market place will sort it out if people don't want it...they won't sell the tickets if there's insufficient demand...I can understand someone saying "I won't pay that much" or someone saying "I can't pay that much", or "I don't think it's fair they are charging that much because I'd like to see it", but alas, we live in a capitalist society and this is where we have evolved with the artists of our youth who are still out there playing...only the ticket buyer knows their circumstances...people who can pay and want to go will pay it...

I mostly go to shows that are inexpensive and where the ticket broker doesn't take a ridiculous price...I also go to a lot of house concerts, and I see a lot of artists who aren't quite as popular that cost 15-35 bucks a ticket...like a Parker Millsap, Todd Snider, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, Asleep At the Wheel, Shawn Mullins, Paul Thorn, Radney Foster, Lydia Loveless, John Moreland...these are people I've sen lately for 20 to 35 bucks a ticket...I just saw Marty Stuart and the Fab Superlatives about a year ago...$35 plus a 2 dollar ticket fee...and that's on the high side...I saw Chris Hillman with Herb Pedersen just a couple of years ago...$25 plus $1 ticket fee...so I don't begrudge Hillman or McGuinn for getting what they can when they can in this situation...

Once in a while, I will bite the bullet and pay what it takes if I love the artist's music enough...for me, Jackson Browne is worth whatever it costs to sit close...my wife and I will bite the bullet or cut back somewhere else if we need to when he comes around...and he doesn't charge close to what the Eagles are charging...and he has a great band that he has to pay...so McGuinn and Hillman are legends and they have chosen the best backing band they could and conceptually it's a clever idea...I can't fault them for getting what they can (but you can if you like)...if you are still at it at 70 years old and you may not be touring again this goes in the retirement account...they've earned it, even if it seems or is exclusionary on some level...

An interesting debate. For what it’s worth I’m extending a trip over to the FreshGrass festival to see the Sweetheart of the Rodeo show in Albany two days later. Tickets looked reasonably priced (compared to London at least), $48 at a venue that seems to be well rated. I’d pay that willingly to see Marty Stuart alone so McGuinn and Hillman come for free! At this age and factoring in the mortality rate of musicians I reckon this is an opportunity not to be missed. 

$48 bucks is a bargain I'd agree Lyndon, and as you noted, many of our heroes qualify for AARP at this point and have for a while...I'd not miss it at a price twice that much if it comes near me...
Enjoy yourself...tell us about it if you have a chance after you see it yourself...

That will certainly merit a review Jim, maybe part of an extended “Brit on tour” piece?

That's great...I will look forward to that...hope you are having a good time...