#Sid Hillman

A Sid Hillman Solo Record?!?

Sid Hillman, back in the studio…

A somewhat long story that I’ll shorten. In 2018 I quit all social media. Didn’t just take a break. I stopped, deleted, walked away. It was an experiment of sorts, and I figured I could always get back on, but…I quickly discovered a change (for the better) in my life. A breath, space, silence. And then, for the first time in many years, songs began to come…

I wrote. Then I wrote some more. And after a year or so I realized I had over an album’s worth of songs. My next step was to demo them. In my podcast/music studio – I threw down the songs one by one, and then stepped back for a time until I began to listen. What I heard was an evolution. Songs shaped by a break from music, by a return to my love for music, and to a much different life than the one I had lived for years in LA with the Sid Hillman Quartet.

I sent the demos to the quartet guys – all still in LA – and heard nothing back. Nothing. Silence. So I sat on the songs again, not sure how to proceed because by this time, the ol’ pandemic had taken hold. And then…a random text from the Quartet’s drummer, Mike Taklender. “I have a surprise for you.”

We jumped on a Facetime call and he let me know that after some personal tragedy, he finally made it to the songs and had laid down some test drum tracks. That was it. It was time.

This record is now happening. I drove to LA and went into a studio with Mike for the first time in 17 years and it was like we’d never left. We jumped into the songs and recorded guitar, drums, vocals over 3 very long, very full days. Andrew Bush, the studio’s owner engineer, and damn find musician, recorded the bass tracks over the following few months. I have test mixes in hand and am listening for additional parts – tracks to add etc. I will be heading back down to LA in fall 2022 to continue the work.

This is a solo album. This is me getting back into thing that brings life into my life.

This is “Oxygen.”

Music never leaves you | 4th Full-Length Album to release soon

The cliché that time flies is certainly true here…More than a little burnt on the ‘industry over art’ reality of the otherwise vibrant city of Los Angeles, the Quartet finally wrapped up our fourth full-length album in late 2005. Jack Faith (lead guitar and some gorgeous back-up voice) and his family were moving to Maine of all places, and my wife and I had decided to pack up and head north with our daughter. My intent at the time was to get settled in the small town of Mendocino, and then set my sights on finding a label to release this album which I had aptly named “Round About Way.” Innerstate Records, Evangeline, and Trocadero, the labels that had release Volume 2 and Tercero had shut their doors (a sign of things to come in the independent label world). I did the due diligence of sending the record out and about, but to no avail. Some interest here and there, but nothing concrete, and usually involved more of a financial investment from me than I could muster (having come off the credit card financed recording – the quartet records analog (on tape) which is pricey to say the least). Then…time flew. Each year would come and I’d think “OK, I’ll put the record out this year.” Then the struggle of raising a family, an emerging ‘other career,’ and next thing you know almost seven years has gone by. Over the years, however, I have many a time reflected on the honor it has been to work with such talented and passionate musicians – the quartet: Mike Taklender (drums), Jim Cheydleur (Bass) and Jack Faith (guitar/vocals); not to mention Neil Halstead, Raymond Richards (guitar, pedal steel, and a whole bunch a-other instruments), as well as players Greg Vincent, Ken Baggott, Phil Sparks, Joe St. John, and a host of others. Throwing honest art into the world is no small task, and rarely ever done without a group of like-minded artists who can dive in full-heartedly into what they do.

So. Here we are, 2013. The quartet website has been completely re-vamped for the first time since the release of “Tercero” and the design of “Round About Way” has begun. My life has taken some odd turns over the last few years. I apprenticed and learned to be a letterpress printer, and run a business with my wife and graphic designer, Lisa. My family expanded with the birth of twins in 2009. I became a certified nutritionist/weight management coach (Transitioning to Health) and, I wrote a book which got published and just hit stores this week. And yet….I may have left music for a while, but music has definitely not left me, nor will it ever. Words and music still come to me whenever and wherever, and a new song is in the works for the first time in a while. My children are a bit older now and I find myself with more time to think, create, and play. Mike, Jim, and Jack (who returned to LA) are still in Los Angeles, and we are talking about doing some shows around the release of our fourth album, so stay tuned. I am proud of “Round About Way.” It is the manifestation of a group of artists who have grown together and achieved an authenticity that rings true in the words and music we created.

Here are a few tracks from the forthcoming album …

The Sid Hillman Quartet Receives LA Weekly Music Awards Nomination

Los Angeles, CA – The Sid Hillman Quartet has received a nomination in the Best Country Artist category (a broad category also encompassing alt-country and Americana) for the 2002 LA Weekly Music Awards.  Also nominated in the same category are Dave Alvin, I See Hawks In L.A., Buck Page, and Kathy Robertson.  2002 marks the fourth annual event, celebrating the best of music in Los Angeles.  The awards are being held on June 26th, culminating a week of concerts, shows, industry seminars, fundraisers and more.

Hillman has been honing his creative edge in the trenches of the L.A. music scene for the last eight years, and he and the Quartet released their second album, “Volume Two,” earlier this year on Innerstate Records.  In addition to the Quartet members (Sid Hillman, Jack Faith, Jim Cheydleur, Mike Taklender), the album features guest players Jaydee Maness (Byrds, Beck, Desert Rose Band) on pedal steel and Matt Devine (Possum Dixon, Medicine) on baritone guitar.  Dubbed “moody” and “atmospheric” by the NY Post, “brooding, stark…enthralling and mesmerizing” by the Vancouver Courier, “a minimalist mirage of psychedelic twang” by No Depression, and “quintessential Americana” by ESP Magazine, Hillman and his quartet craft music that Billboard says “transcends any narrow stylistic boundaries.”  The Durham Independent Weekly proclaimed it “music to daydream by.”

A four-week U.S./Canadian tour opening for Neil Halstead (Mojave 3) in April saw Hillman bringing his solo show to music fans across the country.  Press praised Hillman’s solo show, calling it “music for when the bars are closed but you don’t want to go home. With his burnished, straightforward voice and long, flat vowels, he sounds as straight and lonely as a desert back road.” (Variety)

“Volume Two” Reviews

“‘Volume Two’ is a pretty, mid-tempo collection…. It’s the kind of record that would make a fine soundtrack to a road trip through rural Texas. The moody, atmospheric music sounds simple on the first spin, but it’s really multi-layered.” — NY Post
Hillman–like Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch, and precious few others–strives for Art over image-conscious mass appeal. Lyrical imagery of clouds, storms, and darkness place Hillman next to country’s stark forefathers. — Fort Worth Weekly
“…[Hillman] crafts brooding, stark and moody high-lonesome music custom made for late nights and ugly mornings. An immediately enthralling and mesmerizing album, remarkable for its dramatic range of dynamics, unique song structures and the occasional freeform freakout… ‘Volume Two’ not only eschews but transcends the belaboured alt.country tag.” — Vancouver Courier
“…LA’s Sid Hillman makes independent country rock from a singular perspective.” — Boston Phoenix
“Singer-guitarist Hillman intensifies and abstracts trad-country’s melancholy…” — Washington Post
“Sid Hillman knows a thing or two about smart, sad folk rock. ‘Volume Two’ (Innerstate), the new album from the Sid Hillman Quartet, is full of such pensive songs.” — Time Out NY
“Far from alt-country, grounded in folk, and inspired by country, The Sid Hillman Quartet is best described as well-written songs from a well-worn band that knows the score. I give it an A.” — InMusicWeTrust.com
“Sid Hillman has retained what’s most appealing about the unpolished, sing-from-the-hipster side of psychedelic twang. Like Clem Snide or the Willard Grant Conspiracy, Hillman writes elliptical, exquisitely sad songs, images of melancholy hope and decay; delivers them in an untutored, sometimes Stipean voice; and sets them afloat on a minimalist mirage of atmospheric twang.” — No Depression
“See the beating heart of Americana yet? It’s there, obscured by the dust of an old, sleepy town with clapboard houses and the sound of the Sid Hillman Quartet. …Hillman is the quintessential Americana, crooning cowboy, crafting songs that slice like paper cuts and ache with all the lonesome, scuffling intensity of a freshly broken heart.” — ESP Magazine
“The lightest of brush strokes of country invade the sound of ‘Volume Two’… but the muted melancholia of Sid Hillman’s singing and playing transcends any narrow stylistic boundaries.” — Billboard
“…On his second album with the Sid Hillman Quartet, ‘Volume Two’ (Innerstate Records), [Hillman] writes Quaalude cowboy music, parched ballads along the lines of Sparklehorse and Giant Sand, music for when the bars are closed but you don’t want to go home. With his burnished, straightforward voice and long, flat vowels, he sounds as straight and lonely as a desert back road.” — Variety
“…lingering, ambient twang” — Tucson Weekly
“…darkness-on-the-edge-of-alt-country heroes…” — St. Paul Pioneer Press
“Music to daydream by.” — Durham Independent Weekly