David Crosby - guitar, vocals; Graham Nash - guitar, piano, vocals; Neil Young - guitar, piano, vocals
By early 1972, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were enjoying massive success, both as a group with tremendous album sales, and as a touring band in high demand. Individually, they had recently recorded career-defining solo albums, but had not toured together in well over a year, which heightened the frenzy for any public appearance.
This Sheriff's Benefit concert to help raise awareness of prisoner issues featured local groups Earth Rise and Stoneground opening for Elvin Bishop and headliners Crosby-Nash, who had recently recorded their first self-titled duo album. Neil Young was a very welcome surprise guest during the Crosby-Nash set. He had also been off the road, recording the now legendary Harvest album; the most popular and commercially successful of his entire career. To say the three of them together was a momentous occasion in March of 1972 is not overstating it, as these guys were at the peak of their popularity. They were international superstars and the press was touting them as everything from "the second coming" to "the new Beatles."
Unlike later Crosby-Nash performances, when they had a full band supporting them, this is a very relaxed, totally acoustic affair. A few CSNY favorites, such as the set opener, "Wooden Ships," and two tracks from Deja vu, Nash's "Teach Your Children" and Crosby's "Almost Cut My Hair" (a rarity in acoustic form) are featured, but the set primarily focuses on newer material from their solo albums.
This was a particularly prolific era for Graham Nash, who had released some of his most memorable songs over the previous two years. From his excellent Songs For Beginners LP are the politically charged "Military Madness" and "Chicago," in addition to "I Used To Be A King," one of his most beautiful songs (which featured backing by the Grateful Dead on the album version.) Three of his best songs from the debut Crosby-Nash album are also included; "Southbound Train," "And So It Goes" and "Immigration Man." Crosby's acoustic guitar playing and harmony vocals greatly enhance much of Nash's material. In addition to the aforementioned Crosby numbers, the pair performs a lovely acoustic rendition of "All Along The Lee Shore" and Crosby debut's "Page 43."
As one might expect, the crowd is very appreciative when they invite Neil Young to the stage, who begins with the title track from Harvest, followed by a lovely version of "Only Love Can Break Your Heart." When he returns later in the set, one more classic Harvest tracks is performed; "The Needle And The Damage Done," and he remains for the rest of the killer set.