Formed in 1971 in Woodstock, New York, this US band, while relatively short-lived, was interesting and influential. Borderline marked a change in attitude towards fusion in pop, blending as it did elements of country, bluegrass, folk, rock and jazz. Importantly, it was much more than a slapdash assemblage of its component parts. The mixing was done with authenticity and intelligence that reflected the musicality of its members.
At the core of Borderline were three musicians, all singer-songwriters and guitarists. They were Jim Rooney (b. 1940, USA), Jon Gershen (b, 1951, USA) and David Gershen (b. 1948, New Jersey, USA). Through the 60s and into the 70s, Rooney had performed at clubs and festivals in the north-eastern states, often with Bill Keith in the duo Keith And Rooney, and had managed a folk club and was a talent co-ordinator for the Newport Folk Festival. In 1970, he relocated to Woodstock and quickly established himself there as an important figure on the music scene. The Gershen brothers, had played in folk clubs in and around New York City, including a spell as the Montgomeries, a band that also included Tony Brown and, later, Van Morrison, by which time they too were in Woodstock.
From late in 1971, Rooney and the Gershens became a touring and recording group and early the following year were signed to Avalanche/ United Artists Records. Among the musicians who teamed up with Rooney and the Gershens for their first record date were Vassar Clements (violin), Jim Colegrove (bass), Ben Keith (pedal steel guitar/dobro), Kenny Kosek (violin), Billy Mundi (drums), David Sanborn (alto saxophone), John Simon (piano), Garth Hudson (organ), and Richard Manuel (piano/clavinet). The latter pair was at this time members of the Band and were credited on the album respectively as Campo Malaqua and Dick Handle. On their second recording session the following year, Rooney and the Gershens brought in some of the same sidemen and also Michael Brecker (tenor saxophone), Randy Brecker (trumpet), Stan Free (piano), Amos Garrett (guitar), Will Lee (bass), Chris Parker (drums), and Barry Rogers (trombone). The band’s second album was not released at the time, and eventually the tapes were lost. However, an acetate of the session was preserved by a band member and was released in 2001.
In later years, Rooney worked successfully as a record producer in Nashville. The Gershen brothers continued playing music separately but 2004’s Faded Glory released on Boardinghouse Records saw them reunited.