Davisville, Aug. 22, 2016: From the Desert, to the Byrds, to a Concert in Davis (part 1)

Gene Parsons, son of a classical pianist, grew up in the Mojave desert, practicing banjo and guitar in an empty 10,000-gallon water tank on his father’s homesteaded ranch. One day, as a teenager playing banjo in a music shop, he was invited to join a recording session by Gib Guilbeau—a Cajun fiddle player who would later play with Parsons in at least three bands. The experience set Parsons on a path that led to him playing in The Byrds from 1968 to 1972. On Sept. 10 he joins David Hayes, an equally accomplished musician, in concert at the Davis Odd Fellows Hall (that's Hayes on the left in the photo, with Parsons), and today we present the first of a two-part interview with Parsons (here's part 2). The conversation includes memories of fellow Byrd Clarence White, Gram Parsons, and Sneaky Pete Kleinow; his songs Gunga Din and Yesterday's Train; and the “oddball story” about how a kid who had wanted to play fiddle grew up to play drums for one of the top bands of the 1960s, contributing to its revival after most of its original members had left.