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The Dillards – Old Road New Again

Americana, bluegrass; Pinecastle Records – STREAM / BUY album

The streaming wait is finally over, as The Dillards release their highly-anticipated album Old Road New Again on all digital services. The star-studded collection includes guest appearances from such luminaries as Don Henley, Ricky Skaggs, Sharon and Cheryl White, Herb Pedersen, Bernie Leadon, and Sam Bush.

Known for their years appearing on the iconic Andy Griffith Show, the band is picking up right where they left off. Like most Dillards collections, this one is by turns wistful and whimsical, forward-looking and nostalgic, hopeful and apprehensive. It brings together Dillards’ band members Rodney Dillard, Beverly Cotten-Dillard, Gary Smith, Tony Wray, and George Giddens. Rodney, the lone surviving member of the original Dillards, calls Old Road New Again the “bookend” to the band’s 1968 masterpiece, Wheatstraw Suite. That album saw The Dillards evolve from a basic bluegrass ensemble to musical risk-takers who used a full orchestra, electrical instruments, studio-layered voices and drums to convey their visions. In so doing, they gave license and inspiration to generations of other experimenters.

 

“The Dillards did an album called Wheatstraw Suite, which is one of my favorite albums,” Elton John comments. “The first thing I did when I came to America was go and see them.” Ultimately it led John to pick The Dillards as the opening act on his first North American tour. Eagles frontman Don Henley adds, “I was a big fan of The Dillards. Wheatstraw Suite was a very influential album in my life. In fact, I drove through a snowstorm to hear them play in Fort Worth back in 1968. They were an interesting band.”

Wheatstraw Suite was a departure from the basic, somewhat traditional, recordings we had previously done for Elektra,” explains Rodney Dillard. “I wanted to move the group into uncharted musical territory, risking the ire of the hardline bluegrass traditional folks. 55 years later, after several successful recordings, I felt it was maybe time to once again plow new ground and complete my musical journey, so we recorded Old Road New Again, the bookend to Wheatstraw Suite, with the production help of Bil VornDick, and my friends and pickers whom I hold in high regard.”

While proudly displaying The Dillards’ bluegrass and string band ancestry, Old Road New Again is, like its predecessor, enhanced and enlivened by the sounds of drums, cello and electric bass. The album’s title track, which features Henley and Bernie Leadon, is a mini-history of The Dillards’ fabled musical journeys. It jauntily name-checks or alludes to many of the acts the band influenced, jammed or worked with, including the the Byrds, the Eagles (it was Rodney who suggested Henley leave Texas and seek his fortunes in California), Buffalo Springfield, the Kentucky Colonels, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. “When someone tells the story,” the chorus rings out, “this old road is new again.”

Old Road New Again track listing:
1.“Earthman” (featuring Herb Pedersen) Writer: Bob Milsap
2.“Save The Last Dance For Me” (featuring Sharon and Cheryl White) Writers: Doc Pomus / Mort Shuman
3.“Common Man” Writers: (featuring Herb Pedersen) Writers: Rodney Dillard / Beverly Dillard / Jon Vezner
4. “Always Gonna Be You” (featuring Don Henley) Writer: Mike Reid
5. “Funky Ole Hen” (featuring Beverly Dillard lead vocal/banjo) Writer: Beverly Dillard
6. “Sweet Companion” Writers: Sally Barris / Jon Randall / Jessie Alexander
7. “The Whole World Round” (featuring Herb Pedersen and Sam Bush) Writers: Mitch Jayne / Joe Stewart
8. “Tearing Our Liberty Down” (featuring Ricky Skaggs) Writers: Ritchie Lockhart/Beverly Dillard / Sam Lockhart
9. “My Last Sunset” (featuring Don Henley and Herb Pedersen) Writers: Ellen Britton / Will Hopkins
10. “Old Road New Again” (featuring Don Henley, Herb Pedersen, and Bernie Leadon) Writers: CJ Watson / Rodney Dillard
11. “Take Me Along For The Ride” (featuring Herb Pedersen) Writers: Rodney Dillard / Mitch Jayne