Desert Rose Band Is (Temporarily) Back

Aug. 19, 2008 — One of the coolest country bands of the late 1980s was the Desert Rose Band, a group led by ex-Byrds founder Chris Hillman that came together when Dan Fogelberg cut a country album, High Desert Snows. And readers of the comic strip Nancy discovered over the weekend that the group is now "Reunited."

Nancy’s character Aunt Fritzi, wore a T-shirt in Saturday’s edition with the phrase "Desert Rose Band Reunited," and that does indeed signal that the group is doing a few shows together again, though Chris insists it’s just for the short run.

"We will go in and do a live album and just a one-shot deal," he told The Bakersfield Californian, "and after that, we’re not going on the road. I don’t really ever go backwards and reform things."

The Desert Rose Band mixed raw musical sounds and very polished harmonies, thanks in part to vocalist Herb Pedersen, and the group snared a couple of No. 1 singles with the ballads "He’s Back And I’m Blue" and "I Still Believe In You." They also had some of the breeziest records in any genre on the radio during that era with "One Step Forward," "Summer Wind" and "Love Reunited."

Steel player Jay Dee Maness, drummer Steve Duncan and bass player Bill Bryson each won musician trophies from the Academy of Country Music, though they all left the group by 1991. Bill played with Chris and Herb for the first time since the band’s dissolution at last year’s Stagecoach Country Music Festival in California, and original guitarist John Jorgenson performed with Chris and Herb in May at Nashville’s Station Inn. According to a Wikipedia entry, it was the first time those three had appeared in concert together in 19 years.

Chris’ website has four Desert Rose Band Reunion concerts slated for the next two months. They’re set for Solano Beach, Calif., on Aug. 27; San Juan Capistrano, Calif., Aug. 28; and Copper Mountain, Colo., Aug. 31. They’ll also appear at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco on Oct. 4.

Unfortunately, that might be as much "reunited" as the guys can take.

"My best analogy is remarrying four ex-spouses," Chris observed. "Sometimes baggage has accumulated."