The New Burrito 

A heaping helping of country-rock legends.

Bass player Jeff Davis did a stint with B.B. King and toured endlessly with 1970s hit-makers The Amazing Rhythm Aces, while drummer Rick Lonow lists performances with Johnny Cash on his resume, and Grammy-nominated lead singer Carlton Moody has ties to Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys.

The band came together a couple of years ago, not to rehash the original Burrito legend but to blend new musical ideas into a modern country-rock sound. The new CD, "The Whole Enchilada," shows a band that's smooth and upbeat. Moody wraps his voice around the tunes with a rocking-chair drawl, while the players lend flourish and polish to fresh cuts from band members and songwriters such as John Prine. There's plenty of sweet country steel along with Hudson's intricate keyboard work.

And while the Burrito Deluxe tour that brings the group to Ashland Coffee and Tea Thursday is the main focus, conversations with Kleinow and Hudson don't shy from the past.

Kleinow recalls that when Chris Hillman and Parsons approached him to join the original Burritos, he had no idea who they were, even though both were fresh from duty with folk-rock pioneers The Byrds. And although their first performance in front of label bigwigs was a disaster, the band turned out to have a tremendous impact on music history.

"I was thinking, 'This is just another job,'" he says with a laugh.

Hudson turns out to have an encyclopedic knowledge of almost any topic. He's a copious note-taker and a man with "that curiosity factor." One is apt to get instruction on how an accordion is built or an opinion on the best Cajun players. A short history of the tenor sax and its place in jump-blues history comes up naturally in conversation.

Hudson also performs tirelessly as a session artist, playing on recent releases by Norah Jones and Los Lobos. And he's proud to say he plays often with old Band friend Levon Helm and Helm's daughter Amy. It's clear he thinks fondly of the late, great Band kingpins Rick Danko and Richard Manuel.

Hudson is equally generous in summing up his new band's musical journey into the future. For now, he and the guys are content in a country groove. "Yes, yes," Hudson says slowly. "And that will evolve, I'm sure." S

Burrito Deluxe plays Ashland Coffee and Tea, Thursday, Aug. 19, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance, through www.ashlandcoffeeandtea.com. Call 798-1702 for more information.

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