Billy Blue Records has released a clever new music video from Alan Bibey & Grasstowne, telling the story in their latest single, Hitchhiking To California. The song has been an instant hit, debuting on our Bluegrass Today Weekly Airplay chart at #5 last week, and sure to keep on rising.
Alan played on the first recording of the song back in 1985 during the time he was performing as a member of New Quicksilver. That band had a short-lived career following the break up of the original Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. Doyle’s bandmates Terry Baucom, Randy Graham, and Jimmy Haley left Doyle over some business disputes, and then hired Al to play mandolin.
The new band figured, ‘Well Doyle is still Doyle, and we were, and are Quicksilver.’ But legal wrangling ensued over the band name, and they disappeared after a season or two, though occasional reunion shows continued to occur.
Hitchhiking was one of two contributions to their album from Wes Golding, who had made quite a mark as part of Boone Creek with Baucom in the late 1970s. Bibey always liked the song, and the powerful, gutty presentation of the New Quicksilver arrangement, but also felt like the song was too short.
So he and Jerry Salley of Billy Blue talked about adding a third verse to complete the story, and maybe making a few other revisions to the lyrics. When Jerry agreed, Al contacted Wes who gave his unrestricted blessing. What you hear in the Grasstowne rendition is the result of that collaboration, and the birth of a new bluegrass hit.
Given the fact that not many people remember New Quicksilver, Bibey says that he feels like it can be a brand new song for many of today’s listeners. And he feels a special honor to be the one giving it a new life, since he was there as a young kid of 20 when it was first recorded.
“It’s so cool I’d be the one to bring it back. Recutting it was a big undertaking that I didn’t take lightly. I knew this song has to be strong, both to match the intensity of the original, and to bring it forward to a new audience.”
Seeing what a fine job he and the guys did on the track, Alan knew they had to make a strong music video to bring the lyrics to life. So he and the band put together a concept working with their videographer, Shane Leonard, and came up with a story within the song. As you watch you’ll see Bibey and the rest of the band – bass player Zak McLamb, banjo man Justin Jenkins, guitarist Tony Watt, and fiddler Patrick McGonigle – waiting by the side of the road, hitching a ride.
Soon a hot red Mustang slows down, driven by Virginia luthier and mandolinist Spencer Strickland, and passes them by. But an older man in a tricked out vintage pickup stops and tells them all to hop in. The song makes for perfect traveling music, and as they proceed down the road, they encounter the Mustang once again in a memorable moment.
Keep an eye peeled for a number of quick references to the original New Quicksilver recording as things move along.