After years of turmoil, reunited Crosby, Stills and Nash now 'pretty close'

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Even as Crosby Stills and Nash, together off and on since 1969, gear up for yet another massive summer U.S. tour, there remains an electric atmosphere when those three voices intertwine.

“When we get together and that first harmony hits,” Stills says, “I think: ‘Oh, good, I’ve got a job.'”

He’ll join David Crosby and Graham Nash on tour through September, a trek making more than 50 stops. After so many years, so many splits and reconciliations, the one thing that can still bring this group together is the music.

And there’s been lots of it.

Having already had hall of fame early-career stops with the Byrds (Crosby), the Hollies (Nash) and Buffalo Springfield (Stills), this nascent supergroup’s first gig happened before more than 500,000 people at Woodstock. Their 10-song debut hit No. 6 on Billboard’s pop albums chart, earned Crosby Stills and Nash a Grammy for best new artist and eventually found a home on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. So did the group’s follow up, 1970’s Déjà Vu, recorded with sometime partner Neil Young. 1977’s CSN included their first multiplatinum single, “Just A Song Before I Go.”

Though they’ve always had their inner turmoils, reunion tours have become more regular lately, including jaunts in 2000, 2003 and 2006. Stills says they’ve found a way to focus on their craft, and let the past go.

“It takes all kinds; that’s all I can say about that,” Stills told 3News in New Zealand, where CSN is currently touring. “We’re pretty close, we’re not like a pack — but we’re not estranged.”

The trio is donating $1 from every ticket sold to charity.

Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Crosby Stills and Nash. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

CROSBY STILL AND NASH – CROSBY STILL AND NASH (1969; 2011 AUDIO FIDELITY REISSUE): boy, what a debut. This record captured the three at the peak of their songwriting powers, guys whose average work exceeds the quality of many a rock composers’ best work. That isn’t to say every single song on Crosby, Stills & Nash is a classic, but the magic emanating from these sessions make it feel like every cut is, anyway. Instrumentally, this is a Stills record; he played everything save for rhythm guitar by Crosby and drums by Dallas Taylor. Though Stills is a highly skilled guitarist, his organ and bass work are also notably top notch on these songs and the production from all three stand the test of time due to avoidance of any clutter getting in the way of the songs and a superb mixing job. All this makes way for the dual star attractions: those voices, and those songs.

CROSBY, STILLS AND NASH – DEMOS (2009): There are a few revelations in this collection, which covers their creatively rich era of 1968 to 1971, but not necessarily the kind you might expect. The first one is that Crosby, Stills and Nash only appear all together on one track, Graham Nash’s “Marrakesh Express” that kicks off the album. Furthermore, these tweleve tracks aren’t limited to merely CSN songs; only three later appeared on the debut album and two more on CSNY’s Déjà Vu. The rest of these songs appeared on the the individual group members’ respective solo albums that immediately followed Déjà Vu, if at all. And except for “Long Time Gone,” all of the cuts are accompanied only by acoustic guitars.

STEPHEN STILLS – JUST ROLL TAPE (2007): It’s not everyday that tapes like these just turn up, but this one did after being forgotten for almost four decades. Seems Stills was in the already in the studio finishing up for some session work for Judy Collins and armed with an acoustic guitar. He bribes the engineer to “roll tape” so he can lay down some demo recordings for a new batch of songs he had just written. Many of these songs in fuller form went on to become part of Stills’ legendary canon: “Wooden Ships,” “Black Queen” and yes, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” The recording quality is uneven, there’s several guitar missteps, and Stills didn’t always hit the high notes right; these are old demos, after all. But Stills’ voice is relaxed and in generally good shape (which makes one sad to hear it in such rough shape today), and all things considered, the tape’s in decent shape. Most importantly, the songs themselves are all uniformly good-to-excellent and don’t need much help to make them so.

DEEP CUTS: CROSBY AND NASH, “LAY ME DOWN” (2004): By all accounts, these guys can still perform at peak level. That said, given the lack of quality material in recent years—heck—decades, it might be easy to accuse them of sailing on cruise control and resting on their laurels. A few years ago, however, Crosby and Nash recorded their first album as a duo since 1976’s Whistling Down the Wire. The plainly titled Crosby Nash has its share of ups and downs but even though it’s an overlong 2-disc offering, there’s plenty enough highlights on it to best anything from Crosby, Stills & Nash (and Young) since Daylight Again. The song out of that thick new collection which most harkens back to the salad days of the early seventies is the first one. “Lay Me Down” has spiritual-type lyrics about a yearning for rejuvenation (which fits these guys’ style perfectly) and is backed by a beautifully spare arrangement blissfully devoid of the slickness that’s plagued much of their more recent studio recordings.

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The latest 2012 tour dates for Crosby, Stills and Nash:
6/7 — Philadelphia, Penn. | Tower Theatre
6/8 — Johnstown, Penn. | Cambria County War Memorial
6/10 — Cleveland, Ohio | Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica
6/12 — Canandaigua, N.Y. | Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center
6/13 — Gilford, N.H. | Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion
6/15 — Providence, R.I. | Providence Performing Arts Center
6/16 — Wallingford, Conn. | Oakdale Theatre
6/18 — Boston, Mass. | The Wang Theatre
6/20 — Westbury, N.Y | Theatre at Westbury
6/21 — Westbury, N.Y. | Theatre at Westbury
6/23 — Erie, Penn. | Presque Isle State Park
6/24 — Bethlehem, Penn. | Sands Bethlehem Event Center
6/26 — Montclair, N.J. | Wellmont Theatre
6/27 — Montclair, N.J. | Wellmont Theatre
6/29 — Red Bank, N.J. | Count Basie Theatre
6/30 — Atlantic City, N.J. | BorgataEvent Center
7/02 — Baltimore, Md.| Pier Six Pavilion
7/03 — Vienna, Va. | Wolf Trap
7/05 — Charlottesville, Va. | nTelos Wireless Pavilion
7/7 — Portsmouth, Va. | nTelos Wireless Pavilion
7/8 — Durham, N.C.| Durham Performing Arts Center
7/11 — Tuscaloosa, Ala. | Tuscaloosa Amphitheatre
7/13 — Biloxi, Miss. | IP Casino Resort & Spa
7/14 — Alpharetta, Ga. | Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park
7/27 — Nashville, Tenn. | Ryman Auditorium
7/28 — Paducah, Ky. | Carson Center
7/30 — Cincinnati, Ohio | PNC Pavilion at Riverbend Music Center
7/31 — Toledo, Ohio | Toledo Zoo Amphitheatre
8/02 — St. Louis, Mo. | Fox Theater
8/03 — Chicago, Ill. | Ravinia Festival
8/05 — Milwaukee, Wis.| Riverside Theater
8/6 — Minneapolis, Minn. | Orpheum Theatre
8/8 — Lincoln, Neb. | Pinewood Bowl Amphitheater
8/9 — Kansas City, Mo. | Starlight Theatre
8/11 — Wichita, Kan. | Hartman Arena
8/12 — Oklahoma City, O.K. | Zoo Amphitheatre
8/14 — Dallas, Tex. | Verizon Theatre
8/15 — Houston, Tex. | Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
8/17 — San Antonio, Tex. | Majestic Theatre
8/18 — Austin, Tex. Austin City Limits Live
8/20 — Albuquerque, N.M. | Route 66 Casino
8/21 — Morrison, Colo. | Red Rocks Amphitheatre
8/23 — Salt Lake City, Utah | Red Butte Garden
8/24 — Boise, Idaho | Idaho Botanic Gardens
9/04 — Phoenix, Ariz. | Symphony Hall
9/7 — Los Angeles, Calif. | Greek Theatre
9/8 — San Jose, Calif. | San Jose Civic Auditorium
9/14 — Woodinville, Wash. | Chateau Ste. Michelle
9/22 — Reno, Nev.| Reno Events Center
9/28 — Santa Barbara, Calif. | Santa Barbara Bowl
9/29 — San Diego, Calif. | Humphrey’s

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