news about music about contact
T o m ...P a x t o n


best of friends

Tom Paxton
Anne Hills
Bob Gibson
Best of Friends



buy cdbaby
buy itunes


track listing

1. Looking for the Moon itunesbuy
2. My Pony Knows the Way itunesbuy
3. Me and a Couple of Angels itunesbuy
4. Easy Now, Easy itunesbuy
5. Homebound Train itunesbuy
6. Early Snow itunesbuy
7. My Oklahoma Lullaby itunesbuy
8. My River itunesbuy
9. Come Away with Me itunesbuy
10. Marry Me Again itunesbuy
11. The Same River Twice itunesbuy
12. Life in the Key of C itunesbuy
13. The Bravest itunesbuy

At last – the only recordings by this gone-too-soon
folk mini-supergroup of the Eighties, live in Chicago!

In 1984, two generations of master folksinger-songwriters – Tom Paxton and Bob Gibson – teamed up with relative newcomer Anne Hills, who would soon gain recognition as their peer, to perform for 18 months as Best of Friends. Although both men already had lengthy and successful solo careers in progress, “by the early ’80s, Bob and I wanted to work together more often,” Paxton explains in the CD’s liner notes, “and when our manager suggested adding a woman’s voice, we agreed and never thought of anyone but Anne.”

The trio toured throughout the US, UK, and Canada and performed several radio concerts, but there was never any thought given to formal recording, which made the Best of Friends a missing and much sought after link in the chain of recorded folk history – until now! A live February 1985 concert taped at Holsteins, then one of Chicago’s finest folk clubs, and broadcast on the city’s WFMT-FM station, recently resurfaced and is now presented by Appleseed as the only available recording of this three-fold supergroup. Best of Friends presents 14 songs (plus some humorous and insightful spoken introductions) from that historic 1985 broadcast produced, recorded and edited by WFMT’s Rich Warren, current host of the station’s 50-year-old, syndicated “The Midnight Special” folk program.

The senior member of the trio, Gibson was a unique folk-pop stylist credited with popularizing the 12-string guitar and inspiring many of the major country-rock stars of the ’60s and ’70s such as The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and The Eagles. On Best of Friends, he contributes three original compositions, including the brave, inspirational “Pilgrim Song,” which addresses the 12-step recovery program for substance abusers from a first-hand perspective. Gibson’s strengths as an instrumental and vocal arranger are much in evidence, with his trademark 12-string, banjo and voice deftly underpinning Paxton (vocals, acoustic guitar), whose songs dominate the set, and Anne Hills (vocals, acoustic guitar), whose warm soprano provides the rich, lovely bond linking the three singers. Best of Friends also performs Anne’s song, “While You Sleep.” On this particular evening, the trio was joined by the great songwriter Michael Smith as guest bassist.

The material on Best of Friends, and the intimate mood of the performance before a winter-chilled and appreciative audience, is a model of original folk music. Paxton pays tribute to political martyrs (“The Death of Stephen Biko”) and musical heroes (“Did You Hear John Hurt?”), presents a Tom Lehrer-esque nightmare (“One Million Lawyers”), atmospheric Americana (“Panhandle Wind”), environmental and sociological concerns (“Something’s Wrong with the Rain,” “She Sits on the Table”), romantic balladry (“Home to Me”), good-time anthem “Bottle of Wine,” and his signature “Ramblin’ Boy.” Gibson opens the CD with Shel Silverstein’s plea for lost musical idealism (“Sing for the Song”); his own “Let the Band Play Dixie” calls for social unity, and its quote from Abraham Lincoln could be the motto of this CD: “We are gathered not in anger but in celebration.”

Best of Friends is a historic document of a short-lived but classic band of friends, what Rich Warren describes in the liner notes as “a totally unselfconscious evening of music-making by three exceptionally gifted people in love with the music and the joy of sharing it.” Adds Anne Hills in her own liner notes, “Turn it up and join in. Hear your own voice in the mix. For me, that’s what folk music was all about. . .and still is.”

about Bob Gibson:

Bob Gibson was one of the first superstars of the folk revival of the mid-’50s, inspired to perform after seeing Pete Seeger in concert in 1954. Gibson’s clean-cut appearance and accessible presentation paved the way for such commercially viable groups as the Kingston Trio and the Tarriers. His repertoire (initially traditional folk and blues numbers, increasingly augmented by some brilliant original compositions), ringing 12-string guitar, and imaginative instrumental and harmony arrangements as a soloist and in partnership with Hamilton “Bob” Camp (with whom he recorded the first gold album of the folk boom, 1961’s Gibson and Camp at The Gate of Horn), were to leave a major imprint on such young artists as Simon & Garfunkel, Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, Fred Neil, and Phil Ochs (with whom Gibson wrote several songs). In the early ’60s, heavyweight folk manager Albert Grossman suggested that Gibson and Camp add a female voice to their duo; when his suggestion was rejected, Grossman adapted the Gibson/Camp template and assembled Peter, Paul and Mary.

Gibson took great joy in introducing new talent to his audiences, bringing Joan Baez onstage at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival, presenting then-unknown Judy Collins at his familiar Chicago stamping grounds, the Gate of Horn club, and, years later, adding Anne Hills to his long list of protégés. 

Although personal problems and folk fans’ preferences for somewhat younger and scruffier performers eventually edged Gibson from the limelight, he remained a vital and creative presence in the folk world until his death in 1996.

click here for information about Anne Hills



other releases:

comedians and angels
..Comedians & Angels
looking for the moon
........................................Looking for the Moon

Under American Skies
....................UnderUUnder American Skies
things i notice now
Things I Notice Now: Anne Hills sings the songs ofTom Paxton
also appears on:
where have all the flowers gone
The Songs of Pete Seeger Vol 1
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
The Songs of Pete Seeger Vol 3

one more meatball

Christine Lavin & Friends

One More Meatball