Black Music Matters Festival

Rice, Rice, Hillman and Pedersen

Running Wild – 2001 (Rounder)

Reviewed by John Lupton

CDs by Rice, Rice, Hillman and Pedersen

The third album from this quartet of native Californians (and longtime friends) Rice, Rice, Hillman and Pedersen still has bluegrass roots, but this time they branch out more into the classic country harmonies and themes of iconic acts like the Louvin Brothers (the title track, "You're Running Wild" for example), and they also hearken back to some of their own individual roots.

Chris Hillman relives his time with Steven Stills' band Manassas with a nice version of tills' "4 + 20" (originally on the landmark CSN&Y "Deja Vu" album), and you don't often hear Beatles tunes done up as country ("Things We Said Today"). Larry Rice contributes a contemporary murder ballad in the classic country mold, "The Mystery That Won't Go Away," which deals with the JonBenet Ramsey murder.

Fans of Hillman's and Herb Pedersen's Desert Rose Band days will be happy to find pedal steel master Jay Dee Maness sitting in on a few cuts, and the Rices' longtime sidekick Rickie Simpkins is up to his usual fiddle tricks. Rumor has it that Tony Rice's voice problems of the last decade have improved to where he is singing a bit again, but alas, not on this album. In any event, he still plays guitar like Tony Rice.

The first two albums were pretty good, but this is clearly the best yet.