Gram Parsons wrote some great songs, and he sang them with Emmylou Harris, the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, and he died in 1973 - like a rock star.
During his lifetime, no one knew quite how to classify him. His “Cosmic American Music” was too country for rock, too folk for country, too psychedelic for folk — his music belonged everywhere, and to some, that meant he belonged nowhere.
Now we know he was "alt-country" all along. In the 1990s, under that heading, bands like Whiskeytown and Uncle Tupelo embraced the Americana roots sound and championed Parsons as a forebear. Ever since, Parsons has been the subject of a long embrace among fans of folkies, rockers and roots performers of all stripes.
Gram would have been 70 this November. When you think about Birthday Bashes for late rock stars, there are only a handful who garner this kind of love and respect - well over 40 years after their hey-day.
What Parsons brought to the party is indelible. He made his mark as a heartfelt country singer, but also greatly influenced the musical direction of iconic bands like the Rolling Stones and the Byrds.
And that influence is precisely what we celebrate on Dec. 3. The outstanding bands appearing at Gram's 70th Birthday Bash at Don the Beachcomber are all influenced by the innovative Parsons style of alt-country. His dedication to combining country, rock and R&B was prescient; and his innovative music still stands the test today of authentic roots-oriented alt-country.
The bands will each play three of their favorite Parsons songs in their sets, but it is the original material they have developed independently that best reflects the reason we celebrate this talented personality.
The spirit of Gram Parsons will be on full display during this very special lineup of regional bands on two stages as they perform their own brand of alt-country music to a packed house of birthday revelers. (No presents, please.)
Please join us to experience (in alphabetical order):
Gun Hill Royals
Jay Dee Maness
Ted Russell Kamp