My neighbor Chris Hillman

From Sunday until yesterday I attended the Crown of Continent Guitar Workshop and Festival in Big Fork, MT, on the northeast end of phenomenally beautiful and clean Flathead Lake. Though I started in an acoustic guitar class taught by Portland-based guitar virtuoso Doug Smith, I switched to the songwriting class offered upon learning Patty Larkin would be a guest teacher. It was the right move. Patty was amazing; Nashville hit songwriter (and Montana native) Tim Ryan was our main teacher, and I really loved the collaborative songwriting process we used for much of the week.

One could not script a more perfect setting. Flathead Lodge, the workshop's headquarters, sits right on the water and guitar gods like Lee Ritenour and slide guitar maestro Sonny Landreth interacted casually and openly with students from around the globe. Several youngsters, some as young as 15, attended on scholarship and there were many of us "young at heart" folks there too. Each day was filled with lessons, Master Classes, practice time, lots of good food, networking and killer shows -- e.g. with Patty Larkin, classical guitarist Dennis Koster, Lee Ritenour, etc. -- each evening.

I also took advantage of this rare natural setting whenever possible. Tuesday presented an opportunity to bicycle to Echo Lake and back...about 18 miles roundtrip, Wednesday I walked to and through nearby Wayfarer's Park and Thursday morning I ran to "downtown" Big Fork and along beautiful and ever winding Swan River.

The highlight for me though came on Wednesday afternoon as I strummed my Gibson J-45 guitar in an Adirondack chair on the porch right outside my log cabin cottage. A couple walked up with a guy carrying their bags. As they entered the cabin next door, the guy says to me, "you've got new neighbors, The Hillmans!" His words start to register, you mean Chris Hillman of The Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers and Manassas...that Hillman? Yeah, THAT Hillman!!

As I go through a mental gymnastics exercise, Chris came out, walked over and said "hello." I introduced myself and hoped the words coming from my mouth didn't sound too weird as I gushed about how much I love the music and bands he's been in.

Chris admired my Gibson and offered to jam with his mandolin. Though we never got to do that -- I had to return to Seattle yesterday -- I'll never forget this brief encounter with folk-rock greatness!

6 comments

  • Toby Steed

    Toby Steed

    Paula, great story and in one of my favourite places in the world, Montana. Sorry you didn't get to jam. And congratulations on your continued success. Fond wishes Toby

    Paula, great story and in one of my favourite places in the world, Montana. Sorry you didn't get to jam. And congratulations on your continued success. Fond wishes Toby

  • Paula Boggs

    Paula Boggs

    THANKS Toby...it was an amazing setting and I love what Crown of Continent (a non-profit) is doing to nurture, inspire and support musicians. Stay connected, Paula

    THANKS Toby...it was an amazing setting and I love what Crown of Continent (a non-profit) is doing to nurture, inspire and support musicians. Stay connected, Paula

  • steve

    steve

    yes you should have seen your face, it was both so surprised but so happy... glad you had a few magic moments... see ya soon, steve

    yes you should have seen your face, it was both so surprised but so happy...

    glad you had a few magic moments...

    see ya soon,
    steve

  • plutorevenge

    plutorevenge

    Hey Steve -- it was one for the ages! cheers, Paula

    Hey Steve -- it was one for the ages!
    cheers, Paula

  • Chris

    Chris

    Paula, I wish we had of played some together on your porch. Sorry I was so tired from the trip and if I had of known you were leaving the next day I would have been sitting down with you.. Next time! Love, Chris H.

    Paula,
    I wish we had of played some together on your porch. Sorry I was
    so tired from the trip and if I had of known you were leaving the next day I would have been sitting down with you..

    Next time!

    Love,
    Chris H.

  • plutorevenge

    plutorevenge

    Hey Chris, you just made my day!! I started playing 12-string guitar in part because of The Byrds...next time we will play together and THANKS for the positive feedback on my tunes. Until then, Paula

    Hey Chris, you just made my day!! I started playing 12-string guitar in part because of The Byrds...next time we will play together and THANKS for the positive feedback on my tunes.

    Until then, Paula

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