Rock and Roll Hall of Famer to perform at Honeywell

By Joseph Slacian

When David Crosby performs at the Honeywell Center’s Ford Theater on Aug. 22, he will be just a little more than a week past his 78th birthday.

He’s at the age when most people are settling down into a life of leisure.

But then again, David Crosby isn’t like most people.

He’s on tour, is in the midst of recording his fifth album in as many years, and had a documentary on his life, “David Crosby: Remember My Name,” premiered less than a month ago.

“It certainly is an aberration; it’s not how it normally goes,” he told The Paper of Wabash County during a recent telephone interview. “I’m supposed to be walking into the sunset.”

He believes there are a few factors contributing to his resurgence.

“First, for the last 10 years or so, CSN (Crosby, Stills and Nash) weren’t really friends, and I didn’t really feel I could take a song there and have it be welcomed,” he said. “I had some stuff saved up. And what’s happened with me and these young people is really pretty good.”

He collaborated with his son, James Raymond, with whom he was reunited after giving him up for adoption in the 1960s.

“He’s just an unbelievable writer, human being and an incredible musician,” Crosby said of his son. “He’s a much better musician then I am.”

Crosby also began collaborating with Michael League, composer and band leader for the jazz band Snarky Puppy.

“He’s an unbelievable writing partner,” he continued. “And then there’s Becca Stevens, Michelle Willis and other people that I write with.

“I just have been blessed with this incredible bunch of people who want to write. That’s a pretty great thing and it has been inspiring.”

Crosby tries to write every day, taking a tip from his former girlfriend Joni Mitchell.

“One time she said, ‘Write that down,” he recalled. “I said, ‘What?’ and she said, ‘Write that down.’

“I said, ‘Write what down?’ and she said, ‘What you just said.’ I asked, ‘What did I just say?’ She said, ‘Something good and you don’t even know what it is, do you?’ And I said, ‘No, I don’t.’ She said, ‘See, that’s the thing,’ and then she says ‘Write it down or it didn’t happen.

“That’s when the light bulb went off. Write it down or it didn’t happen. OK, so I learned that I should write down every single thing, every single time. If I get four words in a row that I like I write them down.

“I also just sit and play. I just sit and play for fun.”

And what was it that Mitchell wanted him to write down?

“I don’t know,” he said. “It was something smart.”

Crosby, a two-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, will be performing here with the Sky Trails Band, an electric band he has formed. He also has an acoustical band with which he tours, the Lighthouse Band.

“It’s just absolutely a joy,” he said of the band.

His son, James Raymond, and Michelle Willis are in the band, along with Jeff Pevar, Mai Leisz, Steve DiStanislao. A guitarist, Leisz has a jazz band in Scandinavia, while DiStanislao, a drummer, also performs with David Gilmour.

“It’s a pretty amazing band and we can play anything we can think of, and we can think of some pretty wild stuff,” he said.

Music has long been a part of Crosby’s life, something he fell in love with “when I was born, practically.”

“They tell me I was singing harmony when I was 6,” he said. “My family used to sing folk songs, and they tell me I started doing that when I was 6 years old.”

Some of his early musical influences were folk singers Odetta (Holmes), as well as Josh White, the Weavers. He also was influenced by 1950s jazzmen like Dave Brubeck, Chet Baker and Jerry Mulligan. When rock music hit, his influences were first The Everly Brothers and then, like many others, The Beatles.

Crosby joined The Byrds in 1964 and played on the group’s first five albums, contributing such songs as “Lady Friend” and “Eight Miles High.”

He formed Crosby, Stills & Nash in 1968, and Neil Young joined the group in 1969 to form Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. That group’s first live performance was at Woodstock in the summer of ’69.

“Well, people tend to make it bigger as it gets further away,” he said of the concert on Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, N.Y. “The thing that was significant wasn’t the size. It was that people were nice to each other. For a moment, people were nice to each other and what that did was it made us all get hopeful.

“For about three days there we were hopeful. That was a good thing, and that’s why it’s still stuck in everybody’s mind. We had hope for being able to live together decently and not be at war with each other.

“I think everybody, still, is wishing that that could return. That that will be there.”

Crosby’s bouts with drugs are well known. In 1982 he spent nine months in a Texas prison having been convicted on several drugs and weapons charges. He later wrote the judge who sentenced him to prison a letter thanking him for doing so.

“The truth is he saved my butt,” Crosby said. “I didn’t know it at the time, but later on I did realize that.”

If not for that jail time, he said, he doesn’t believe he would be alive today.

He said he regrets the time he was heavily into drug use, “mostly for the time wasted.”

“I could have been making music and music is what I should have been doing.”

In recent years, Crosby has had disputes with former band mates CSNY, and chances for a reunion are slim at best. He doesn’t see it happening anytime soon.

“I doubt it,” Crosby said. “But never say never. I guess anything is possible. They all seem to be pretty mad at me, so I don’t know what to say. Never say never.”

He said he’s not tried to reach out to his former bandmates to try to mend fences.

“I’ve really been concentrating on making music,” he said. “I’ve been doing that. I’ve made four records in the last four years and I’m halfway through making another one.

“I’m doing what I can do. That’s all I can do, man. I can’t make them do anything. I am enjoying making music really tremendously, so that’s what I’m doing.”

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. performance are still available at the Honeywell Center box office. Call 260-563-1102 or see


Posted on 2019 Aug 13