One of the biggest buzzes goin around at the last Folk Alliance (in Jacksonville in 2002) was about a recurring and much beloved folk-pop supagroup called the Sherpas. Each of the three members is a respected solo artist in his own right, and their personal and musical chemistry is a pleasure to behold.

I first checked it out a couple of Kerrville Festivals ago, my first one, around the fire at Camp Nashville. Those were some badass jams, I'm tellin you. Richard Berman and Max Cohen, Louise Taylor, Annie Gallup, Chris Rosser, Billy Jonas, it went on and on and into the night. People would come through and drop in for a few rounds, some of us would stay there all night and play, catch the pilgrims on their way. Tom Kimmel was with us at Camp Nashville, so he would play solo, just some of the best stuff I'd ever heard.

And then, when Michael Lille and Tom Prasada-Rao would show up, they'd all play a little solo and inevitably play some songs as a trio they called the Sherpas. (If you've never heard that word, the sherpas are the guides who help mere mortals find their way through the Himalayas.) Prasada-Rao I'd heard great things about, but his actual music and groove power exceeded the glowing accounts. He's got a great thumb, sounds like a bass player. Not merely Travis-based picking styles, all kinds of soulful grooves, Indian grooves, jazzy grooves. Lille's a guitarist's guitarist, very experienced playing to and through many kinds of song. Each of the three had a trunk of great songs, and they all sing like crazy. Even all that doesn't mean that they'd necessarily sound good together, but they did that, too.

After a bunch of years of getting together on and off and occasional tours, they finally made a record and debuted it at this recent Folk Alliance, so their shows were a real occasion. I was happy to catch a couple, and we sat down in the restaurant after one of them and had a long, rambling conversation about the group and their disc, gear, God, and the river. Hope you enjoy it, as we did. continue to interview