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Crosby, Stills & Nash to open amphitheater season

Projects include cover CD, box set culled from '74 tour

The Columbian
Published: June 11, 2010, 12:00am

Crosby, Stills & Nash fans already knew last summer that the group had an unusual new studio CD in the works — a collection of covers of songs by other artists.

On tour last summer, the trio road tested a few songs that were under consideration for the disc, including the Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday,” the Allman Brothers Band’s “Midnight Rider,” Bob Dylan’s “Girl From the North Country” and the Grateful Dead’s “Uncle John’s Band.”

o What: Crosby, Stills & Nash, in concert.

o When: 8 p.m. June 11.

o Where: Sleep Country Amphitheater, 17200 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.

o Cost: $46-$66 through Ticketmaster, 800-745-3000 or http://ticketmaster.com. A four-pack of lawn tickets is also available for $99.

o Information: 360-816-7000 or http://sleepcountryamphitheater.com.

But in talking with David Crosby in late May, he sounded perhaps more excited about another project that could be finished and released in time for the holiday shopping season — a box set culled from the 1974 Crosby Stills Nash & Young tour.

o What: Crosby, Stills & Nash, in concert.

o When: 8 p.m. June 11.

o Where: Sleep Country Amphitheater, 17200 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.

o Cost: $46-$66 through Ticketmaster, 800-745-3000 or http://ticketmaster.com. A four-pack of lawn tickets is also available for $99.

o Information: 360-816-7000 or http://sleepcountryamphitheater.com.

“This CSNY thing is going to eclipse almost everything else,” Crosby said. “I think it’s going to be just pretty much beyond belief. What I’ve heard, I was just stunned.”

Crosby said Graham Nash has been working with longtime associates Joel Bernstein and Stanley Johnson on assembling the set, which will include three CDs and a DVD. He said the group has about eight full shows from that tour in the vaults and the best tracks from the shows are being compiled for the release.

The shows on that 1974 tour were epic affairs, with an electric set, followed by an intermission, an acoustic set and then more electric, full band performances. Many of the shows clocked in at more than three hours.

Asked what he remembered from the 1974 tour, Crosby had a quick one-word answer.

“Nothing,” he quipped.

Crosby, of course, knew that remark would be interpreted as relating to his famous drug habits of decades past. But what he also meant was he was surprised at what he heard in listening back to the ’74 shows.

“When you really hear them now, it’s just astounding,” he said. “The stuff that they’ve played me, I can’t even believe how … good it is.”

Indeed, there seems to nothing foggy about Crosby, 68, these days. His heavy drug days ended in 1985, when he landed in jail on drug charges for a year. The singer/guitarist started his career in the Byrds before joining Nash and Stephen Stills to form Crosby, Stills & Nash (shortly afterward, Neil Young, came aboard to create Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young). Crosby is one of rock’s all-time survivors.

Not only did he beat his decade-long addictions to heroin and cocaine, he has survived a 1994 liver transplant and continued since to prove he has some creative fuel left in the tank.

At the turn of the decade he joined forces with his son, James Raymond, to form the band CPR, which released four albums. In 2004, he and Nash teamed up to release “Crosby-Nash,” a two CD set of new songs that included some of the best material the pair had released in years. Crosby said he wants to get to work soon on a new solo album in the tradition of his 1971 solo debut, “If I Could Only Remember My Name.”

As for CSN and CSNY, both groups have been plenty active in recent years, touring most every summer and now working on the covers CD.

“It’s coming along,” Crosby said of the covers album, which is being produced by the legendary Rick Rubin.

“We deliberately aren’t trying to put any deadlines on it,” he said. “We’re just working through it, taking our time, picking stuff. We want it to be a really great record, and Rick (Rubin) wants it to be a really great record. We’re not in a hurry. We’re trying to be craftsmen about it.”

In an overall sense, Crosby said life in CSN is quite smooth now — a stark contrast from certain periods in which the group had disputes and did not work together (as groups, CSN and CSNY have released only eight studio albums of new material, the most recent of which was 1999’s CSNY album, “Looking Forward.”)

Crosby cited a variety of reasons for the recent harmony among all four group members.

“(It’s) a lot of things, lack of drugs, patience with each other, more respect, more care about each other’s feelings,” he said. “You know, you get older, you get a little bit smarter, hopefully.”

That bodes well for the current CSN tour, which like last summer will find the group playing both acoustic and electric sets.

“It will be the same band, but some different material,” Crosby said. “There will be several things you haven’t heard before, and a lot of stuff that you have heard before, and that you would feel kind of cheated if you came to a CSN concert and didn’t hear. But there are some new things that might be high points.”

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