Bill Hearne
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Bill Hearne

Band Folk Singer/Songwriter

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Bill Hearne is a true American musical legend. Based in Santa Fe, New Mexico for over two decades, this transplanted Texan has been playing to audiences from Los Angeles to Boston for nearly forty years. During this time Bill - along with his recently retired wife Bonnie - has influenced musicians from Nanci Griffith to Lyle Lovett. Nanci dedicated her Grammy-winning "Other Voices Other Rooms" to Bill and Bonnie saying "...and to Bill and Bonnie Hearne, who play the best darn folk music I ever heard."

And Lyle Lovett says, "When I would go home to Houston, I'd look in the papers and if they were playing, I'd always go to see them. They used to play a place called Corky's in the Montrose area of Houston, and the stage was positioned in the room so you could sit right up next to the stage and I used to sit right in front of Bill and try to figure out all of his guitar licks."

Legally blind since birth, Bill took up the guitar when he was seven. Largely musically self-taught, Bill developed a picking style he calls cross-picking. "Since I didn't have people to play with, I developed a style that incorporated a percussion rhythm while playing lead riffs. Basically, I tried to be a one man band," he says. Like fellow cross-pickers Tony Rice and Doc Watson, Bill is improvisational. "I hardly ever play the same thing twice." It's not something he thinks about, it simply happens, he adds. And what always happens when Bill lets it happen is just plain fun. Combine it with Bonnie's gospel piano and vocals, and it was magical.

After recording several self-produced albums, they signed with Warner Bros. and recorded "Diamonds in the Rough." Produced by veteran Jim Rooney, "Diamonds" climbed to fifth on the Americana chart that year and led to tours with Lyle Lovett and spots in some of the country's most prestigious festivals, including MerleFest, Strawberry Music Festival and the Kerrville Folk Festival. They were mainstays at Kerrville for over 20 consecutive years. Also playing in venues like the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, the winds seemed to be at their backs but, in 2003, Bonnie's health deteriorated and she could no longer perform.

On his own musically for the first time since meeting Bonnie, Bill plays solo and with his Trio and the Bill Hearne Road House Review. For FAR-West's Premiere Showcase he is playing solo and is as determined as ever. He plays like he means it. His musicianship, stylings, love and knowledge of folk music pour from every note. When Bill carves out a song as only he can, you just gotta believe that tomorrow's going to be a little better than today.