Rock Legend Pete Townshend Meets The Hillbenders!

As the buzz continues to build about the band’s upcoming “TOMMY: A BLUEGRASS OPRY” release on June 2nd, The HillBenders meet The Who’s Pete Townshend in Nashville

Left to right: The HillBenders’ Gary Rea, Mark Cassidy and Nolan Lawrence, Pete Townshend, The HillBenders’ Chad “Gravy Boat” Graves, “Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry” producer Louis Jay Meyers and The HillBenders’ Jim Rea. (photo courtesy of The HillBenders)

Pete Townshend meets “Whograss” originators The HillBenders

On the heels of their sold-out show Sunday night at Nashville’s famed Station Inn, rising bluegrass stars The HillBenders had the opportunity to meet rock legend Pete Townshend. The HillBenders’ upcoming album, “Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry” (Compass Records, June 2), produced by Louis Jay Meyers, is a bluegrass retelling of The Who’s iconic rock opera.

The band chatted briefly with Townshend after The Who’s performance at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Monday. Townshend said he first heard about The HillBenders’ “Tommy” project in the UK, where a buzz is starting to build about both the upcoming album and band’s live performances of the project. “Pete said he’s seen the videos from ‘Tommy’ that we’ve done – and then he asked who sang ‘Acid Queen,’“ said The HillBenders’ Nolan Lawrence, referring to a song that is heavily identified with Tina Turner, the artist who performed it in the 1975 film version of the album. “When I raised my hand, he jokingly jabbed, ‘With a beard like that?!?’”

“Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry” continues to collect critical praise as a live performance, with Rolling Stone including the band’s Austin show in the magazine’s “50 Best Things We Saw At SXSW 2015” list, and Billboard noting that their “ambitiously and audaciously rendered version of ‘Tommy’ in its entirety was well worth standing in the rain to hear.” Compass Records’ upcoming release of “Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry” has been one of the most downloaded projects on Airplay Direct’s current Bluegrass/Folk chart since the album’s debut on the chart last month.

Upcoming performances of The HillBenders’ “Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry” include:

  • 6/11/15 – North Bethesda, MD – AMP by Strathmore
  • 6/12/15 – Smyrna, DE – Smyrna Opera House
  • 6/14/15 – Buffalo, NY – The Sportsmen’s Tavern
  • 6/15/15 – Toronto, ON – Hugh’s Room
  • 6/16/15 – Troy, NY – The Ale House
  • 6/17/15 – Malvern, PA – Valley Creek Park
  • 6/18/15 – New York, NY – Rockwood Music Hall 2
  • 6/21/15 – Worthington, OH – Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza
  • 7/25/15 – Lyons, CO – Wildflower Pavilion
  • 8/15/15 – Schwenksville, PA – Philadelphia Folk Festival
  • 9/26/15 – Sag Harbor, NY – Bay Street Theater
  • 10/1/15 – Greer, SC – The Albino Skunk Bluegrass Festival *One Tommy Set; One HillBenders Set
  • 10/17/15 – Ozark, AR – Phases of the Moon Festival
  • 12/5/15 – Pittsburgh, PA – Carnegie Lecture Hall

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