Crosby & Nash
Wishing to help an old friend, David Crosby will team with Graham Nash to perform a benefit concert at Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater in Kahului on Thursday, Aug. 29.
Concert proceeds will be donated to Crosby’s friend, Bob Benavides, who needs a wheelchair accessible van for his 10-year-old daughter, Ruth, a Kula Elementary School student who is global developmentally delayed and cannot walk on her own. For the last two years, Ruth’s dad has unsuccessfully participated in the national Mobility Awareness Month Contest in the hope of winning a wheelchair and wheelchair accessible van. Last year, by donations from friends, Ruth finally received a new wheelchair.
Now the legendary musicians have stepped in to help purchase a van.
“Bob and I used to ride (motorcycles) together,” explains Crosby, calling from California. “I had a really bad wreck and he took care of me for months. He’s such a friend on such a level that I can barely describe it. We’ve been very close for a very long time. I think he’s an incredible human being. He helped me, and I want to help him.”
“His words to me where, ‘You didn’t win that van, so we decided let’s just do a benefit,” says Benavides. “I love that guy. I’m the luckiest guy in the world. I’m truly blessed to have friends like this coming to our aid.”
After the Maui concert, the duo will head to Kauai for another benefit to help out folks trying to limit the proliferation of GMO crops and use of pesticides on the island.
Both artists share a love for Hawaii. Nash has made a home on Kauai for many years, and composed such songs as “Wasted on the Way” and “Just a Song Before I Go” there. And, Crosby used to anchor his sailboat at Lahaina’s Mala Wharf.
As veteran activists, they have both championed many causes over the years. More recently they announced their support (with Stephen Stills) for and partnership with StampStampede, a grass roots advocacy campaign designed to “Stamp Money Out of Politics.”
“The Stampede is about giving voice to the 80 percent of Americans who realize that unlimited campaign contributions are corrupting our democracy and want to get money out of politics,” Nash announces.
In 2011, the duo journeyed to New York City to perform at an Occupy Wall Street rally. A powerful, live version of Crosby’s song, “What Are Their Names,” (from his brilliant solo album, “If Only I Could Remember My Name”), was included in the compilation “Occupy This Album.”
“I’m just not built to sit down and shut up,” Crosby emphasizes.
Along with classic favorites, C&N have been including some newer songs in concert like Nash’s “Almost Gone” about whistleblower Bradley Manning, and “Don’t Dig Here,” about the potential nuclear waste dump site at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
“We like doing them,” he continues. “We’ve got some new ones you haven’t heard. One is called, ‘Burning for the Buddha,’ a Graham Nash song, which is one of the best protest songs we’ve ever done in our lives.”
The new song spotlights the number of Tibetan Buddhist monks who have immolated themselves as protests against Chinese oppression. “It’s a stunner,” Crosby adds. “I’m sure we’ll try and do it (on Maui).”
Ever since his early days with The Byrds, Crosby has been known for crafting memorable songs with interesting tunings and unusual melodies. Raised on jazz and classical music, in his formative days he sought out a spectrum of artists from jazz legend John Coltrane to sitar master Ravi Shankar to the vocal genius of the Bulgarian National Folk Choir.
“I listened to a lot of classical music and a lot of jazz,” he recalls. “It made me want to play kinds of chords that were difficult and I really couldn’t figure out regular tunings, so I started retuning the guitar to get different inversions of the chords. I just really enjoy doing that.”
So what was it like discovering that Miles Davis was hip to his music and did a recording a version of his classic, “Guinnevere?”
“I was in shock,” Crosby says. “He was definitely a hero of mine.”
A two time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, inducted as a member of both the iconic folk-rock band, The Byrds, and later as a member of Crosby, Stills & Nash, Crosby began his career as a folksinger in clubs and coffeehouses.
Founded in L.A. in 1963, The Byrds won widespread acclaim for hits like “Eight Miles High,” “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” and also the cover of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.”
While performing at the historic Monterey Pop Music Festival in 1967, Crosby played with The Byrds and substituted for Neil Young with Buffalo Springfield.
Later that year, Crosby left The Byrds to embark on a lifelong collaboration with Nash and Stephen Stills. Renowned for their intricate vocal harmonies, stellar musicianship and timeless songs, CS&N became the voice of the Woodstock generation.
The trio’s self-titled, multi-platinum-selling debut album introduced such classics as Stills’ “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” Nash’s “Teach Your Children” and “Marrakech Express,” and the Crosby-penned “Guinnevere” and “Wooden Ships.”
As a solo artist, Crosby debuted with the 1971 masterpiece “If Only I Could Remember My Name,” which was recently reissued as a two-disc set, featuring video footage, and other bonuses.
Surprisingly singled out in the Vatican’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, in 2010 as one of the “Top 10 Pop Albums of All Time,” the spectacular recording marshaled an incredible ensemble of talent including Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Nash, as well as members of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Santana.
In the mid-1990s, Crosby performed and recorded with CPR, a group he formed with his son, composer/keyboardist James Raymond, and guitarist Jeff Pevar.
With CPR, he created some of the finest compositions of his career. Delicate acoustic ballads laced with stunning harmonies were balanced with soaring up-tempo songs on their album, “Just Like Gravity.” The Music Box raves, “It is dazzlingly beautiful, it sparkles with brilliance, and it showcases his (Crosby) indelible return to peak form.”
While waiting for a life-saving liver transplant, Crosby was found by his son, Raymond, whom the rock star had given up for adoption years before.
“When he and I finally encountered each other, we spoke two languages, English and music,” Crosby explains. “We’ve been very close and writing a lot of music together. He’s a much better musician than I am.”
Since their initial connection, father and son have forged a formidable musical partnership. Raymond will play with his father at the Maui concert (along with CS&N guitarist Shane Fontayne, and Jackson Browne, who will sit in on some songs), and will later tour with Nash in the fall.
Collaborating with Raymond, Crosby has just about completed a new solo album that should see its release in January, 2014.
“My son is producing it and has co-written some stuff,” he reports. “We’ve been working on it for two years. It’s probably some of the best stuff I’ve done in my life.”
A proposed, new Crosby, Stills & Nash covers project with producer Rick Rubin got shelved in 2012. Songs recorded included the Dead’s “Uncle John’s Band” and Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country.”
Crosby suggested it could still see the light of day. “At some point, we’ll probably revive it. We did them live and audiences liked them a lot.”
Stephen Stills’ fans might like to know he has a blues-rock album coming out next week with guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd and keyboardist Barry Goldberg. It includes a scorching version of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.”
The last time Crosby recorded a studio work with Nash was in 2004 for a wonderful double album which included the Nash song, “Penguin in a Palm Tree,” featuring the lines, “Well, I’m here in Lahaina, I’ve got nothin’ to say, My music says it for me and I try and make it every day.”
What inspired it?
“It comes from me describing him that way,” Crosby says, laughing. “I said he was such an odd duck, like a penguin in a palm tree, being an Englishman in Hawaii.”
In conclusion, Crosby is asked about his admiration for Nash.
“He’s an incredible human being, a really good friend and the best harmony singer alive,” he says.
* The MACC presents “An Evening with David Crosby and Graham Nash” at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 29. The concert will also feature Jackson Browne as a guest, and Crosby’s son, James Raymond. Festivities will begin in Yokouchi Founders’ Court and Pavilion.
Cost is $45, $55, $75, and $95 (which includes premium seating and autographed Crosby & Nash DVD), with a limited number of $150 seats (which includes premium seating and post show meet and greet), plus applicable fees. Tickets are available at the MACC box office, by phone at 242-SHOW or online at www.mauiarts.org. For those unable to attend the show, donations for “Ruth’s Ride” can be made at www.guacfund.org.