Legendary northern New Mexico folk musician Bill Hearne and his two sidekicks, David Thom and Zeke Severson, will be in concert on The Bowery Stage Friday, March 2.
Bill’s professional life began in Austin in 1968. It was there where he earned his first paycheck as a musician and met his future wife, Bonnie Cross. Bonnie’s mellifluous east Texas alto fit Bill’s picking like a glove.
They toured Texas, New Mexico and Colorado before moving to Red River, NM, in 1979 where they became the house act at Chubbie’s Tavern. Fellow Texans Tish Hinojosa and Michael Martin Murphey also moved to northern New Mexico, and Bill and Bonnie found themselves the center of a thriving Americana music community.
"Bill and Bonnie Hearne play the best darn folk music I ever heard," says Texas singer/songwriter Nanci Griffith.
Hearne has a whole list of CDs available from the early releases with his late wife, Bonnie, who died at the end of last year, such as Most Requested: Best of Bill & Bonnie, Diamonds in the Rough, and Live at the La Fonda.
"I personally remember them from the Kerrville Folk Festival where he and Bonnie were featured performers every year," says Jim Willis, talent booker for The Bowery. "Both were legally blind (Bill with some vision). They were billed as Bill and Bonnie Hearne with him on guitar, her on the piano and both on vocals."
Hearne doesn’t write his own songs. His greatness lies in his interpretive skills.
And of course, there’s his picking, a style he calls cross picking, which he developed with he picked up the guitar at age seven.
"Since I didn’t have people to play with, I developed a style that incorporated a percussion rhythm while playing lead riffs," Hearne says. "Basically, I tried to be a one-man band."
Like fellow cross-pickers Tony Rice and Doc Watson, Hearne is improvisational.
"I hardly ever play the same thing twice," he says.
Lyle Lovett is a fan.
"They used to play a place called Corky’s in the Montrose area of Houston," Lovett says. "I would get a seat right up next to the stage and sit in front of Bill and try to figure out all his guitar licks."
Later, Bill and Bonnie moved to Santa Fe where they signed on as the house band for La Fonda, a venerable downtown hotel.
For 11 years, Bill and Bonnie delighted Santa Feans and countless tourists with their infectious blend of bluegrass, country and swing music.
Hearne is in his 26th year at the La Fonda and is still singing every Monday and Tuesday night with his trio.
Lindy Hearne, a member of the extended Hearne family, and his partner Lynn Adler, as Adler & Hearne, will be opening.
Doors open at 7 p.m. Music begins at 7:30. Tickets are $15 and $22. Visit www.winnsborocenterforthearts.com to purchase tickets.