What a shocking couple of days. First, we learned that a new CH show had been scheduled, and my first thought was, “It doesn’t make sense for them to go to the trouble of rehearsing a set for a single show...”
Next, we learned the unthinkable. Mark Hart is gone.
Having spent the last 20+ years of my life in regional and local bands, usually as the lead singer and main songwriter, I’ve been the guy who made the decision to kick others out of the band. It’s not an easy thing, even when the person leaving wasn’t pulling his weight. It’s infinitely more difficult when the person had talent and commitment but simply wasn’t the right person at that time. Of course, this was on a minuscule level compared to CH.
But I imagine it wasn’t easy for Neil to make the decision, and I’m sure it wasn’t easy for Mark to hear it.
So...bottom line, I’m happy about the possibility of new CH material coming. I agree that it doesn’t make sense to fire Mark and bring in Froom for one festival show. There simply must be something more to this.
I wondered if maybe a new album produced by Froom was already almost completed, and perhaps a single was being readied for release in advance of the blues festival.
Neil seems to have a respect for Froom that he maybe doesn’t have for others with whom he’s played. And Froom clearly isn’t afraid to say, “That tune needs some work.” So, perhaps Froom is the guy to draw one last great CH encore from Neil. Because it all comes down to the songs. I have enjoyed each of Neil’s projects, with the exception of Light Sleeper, which didn’t connect with me. But, unlike many of the songs from his first few solo and Finn Brothers records, few of his recent songs really sounded like CH to me.
I’m not sure that the cost (Mark) is worth the risk, but Neil clearly thought it was. I just hope that we get great songs first and a great band and producer second.
And speaking of the festival, does anyone else find it funny that CH is on the bill? Based on the line-up, the organizers cleanly don’t restrict it to blues artists. But CH is about the least bluesy band around...!
Folks have speculated that Fleetwood might join on drums and Mike Campbell might sign on for lead guitar. Mick is a larger than life personality, so in that respect, he’d be a little more Hester than others who’ve sat on the throne. But his playing style is very much a more aggressive one than Matt or Paul. He’s not a power drummer, but he loves to show off.
I confess that when I read that Neil and Campbell had really connected in FM, I hoped that the friendship would result in them forming a band together. Campbell is a huge talent on guitar, and an extremely underrated songwriter who contributed significantly to many of Petty’s best tunes as well as to songs like Don Henley’s “Heart of the Matter” and “The Boys of Summer.”
But Mike already has a record in the can by his side project, waiting for his commitment to FM to run out. I mean, maybe The Dirty Knobs will be finished with promoting their record by the time CH reconvenes. Maybe.
Someone also mentioned that Froom is a producer, not a band guy. And that’s mostly true, but he WAS a member of Latin Playboys with Tchad Blake and a couple of the guys from Los Lobos. They released two records, so it wasn’t a one-off thing, either.
I don't know if Mark or any of his family or team reads this website, but if they do, thank you Mark. Your contributions to CH are immeasurable, and they helped provide a soundtrack for many people’s lives, including mine. Be well.