Three legendary bands of country rock revive the 70s at Tarrytown Music Hall

Poco, Pure Prairie League and Firefall will debut at Tarrytown Music Hall March 1.

Get ready for an unforgettable experience as three country-rock legends; Poco, Pure Prairie League and Firefall (as a trio) join forces together on one bill for one night only at Tarrytown Music Hall on March 1.

The three bands all under the same management has performed together previously. I spoke with each member and they are looking forward to playing live to their faithful fans at the Music Hall.

Poco, is known for their lush, soft country rock hits, "Crazy Love" and "Heart of the Night." Lead singer-guitarist Rusty Young, talked about the collaboration and some history behind the band.

“We put the three bands together as a package. It works real well. Country music and country rock there’s no difference,” said Young by phone. “When the band formed, Randy Meisner was our bass player. He and Richie Furray didn’t get along. So Randy left and played with Ricky Nelson for a couple of years in the Stone Canyon Band.” He adds, "Don Henley and Glen Frey, (of The Eagles) used to come to our rehearsals in the late sixties before they had a band and they were always big fans of Poco so when Randy left and was working with Ricky Nelson; they asked him to join them and formed a new band which was Linda Ronstadt’s back-up band and it was Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner, Don and Glen. From there, they started the Eagles with Timothy B. Schmidt. We reunited in 1989 with Jim Messina, (of the duo (Kenny) Loggins and ( Jim) Messina) who also left so we played together off and on over the years and we still keep in contact.”

Their agent chose Tarrytown Music Hall because they were coming to the area and they had space available.

“I just show up, play my guitar jump up and down and sing!” Rusty joked. “We will play most of the Poco classics such as “Pick up the Pieces” from 1968 through “Roads of Cimarron” to the hits, “Call it Love” and “Crazy Love”  “Heart of the Night” and we’ll play some of the new CD that we’re releasing entitled, “All Fired Up” which is the band’s forthcoming release on February 16. We’re having a big release party and concert in Nashville with all the 'Poconuts' (Poco's nickname for their fans) flying in from all over the country and it will be a lot of fun! “We’ll probably play the title tune and maybe a couple of other songs. It will be a combination of what we’re doing today and the history of Poco that people expect to hear when they come to a Poco concert.”

Poco still continues to tour. They have known Pure Prairie League since the 70s. They have also shared the stage with rock legends, The Moody Blues.

“We do 20 shows a year maybe more and have been for the last 10 years,” Rusty said.

Mike Reilly, the bassist of Pure Prairie League said all three bands have been touring together since 2000. They are known for their top 40 radio hits, “Aimee” and “Let Me Love You Tonight.”

“We’re all individual acts who have performed together and have done individual shows but sometimes they’ll put us together as a package and call it, “The Legends of Country Rock.”

Reilly confessed that the set list changes every night.

“People always want to hear, Aimee (which is not a personal love song based on a band member’s girlfriend! It’s just the title of the song.) They always want to hear, “Two Lane Highway” “I’ll Fix Your Flat Tire, Merle” “Let Me Love You Tonight.” There’s actually a dozen songs that people pay money to hear,” he notes. “Starting last summer, we dug out a bunch of old songs out of a catalog, (now the popular term is “deep cuts”) but we called it “dust balls” because they sat in the Pure Prairie League 'attic' since 1972-1973 was the last time we played a few of these songs; so playing them now with a different mindset and a whole lot more energy we’re really enjoying playing those songs from the first couple of albums.”

Fans may not recognize the name, but they sure know the songs.

“They would say, “That was you guys?” We get that a lot,” Reilly states. “Of course we get people asking us if we’re going to play, “Panama Red” and that’s New Riders of the Purple Sage's song, (the band).  They were just another group that was part of the whole country rock genre around 1969 along with the Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, New Riders is a West Coast band.”

Mike cites his musical influences as Poco, Buffalo Springfield, Crosby Stills and Nash, James Brown, and Miles Davis.

This marks Pure Prairie League’s debut at The Music Hall but they have been in this area previously.

“In 44 years, it’s strange because I think we’ve played every venue in the country!” Reilly mused. Now there’s a lot of old theaters that have been saved from the “wrecking ball” they have been refurbished and turned into music venues and I think the Tarrytown venue is the future for live music for anything but the biggest acts. People prefer a smaller, more intimate venue where they can actually see, hear and interact with the band. Being a musician, we’re in the audience’s lap so we can feel the energy and respond accordingly.”

The name, Pure Prairie League came from the 1939 movie, “Dodge City” starring Errol Flynn. The band had exclusive permission to use the artwork for their first album from The Saturday Evening Post.

“The Pure Prairie League was a women’s temperance league that used to march down city streets with banners claiming, “Pure Prairie League and Lips that touch liquor shall not touch these and our drummer back in 1968-69 was up late night watching TV and he saw that banner and thought, “This would be a great name for a band,” Reilly explained. “When we got signed to RCA, our art director there was a friend of Norman Rockwell’s and said, “Well that’s a neat name for a band and I like the music so I’m going to contact the Saturday Evening Post and Norman Rockwell" and he had the perfect cover for our first album which was a Saturday Evening Post cover from 1927 of this old cowboy!”

Lead singer-guitarist Jock Bartley, of Firefall (known for their iconic songs, “You Are the Woman”  “Mexico” “Cinderella,” and “Just Remember I Love You,”) said the music has changed since the 70s and it’s more difficult to break into now.

“The radio airplay and selling of records and the whole music business in the last 20 years and particularly in the last 10, has gotten so ‘corporate’ and it’s really hurt the artists because there’s one person or two that are selecting the playlist for three or four thousand radio stations; so to get airplay on a song that is deserving of airplay by a band was hard back in the 70s and 80s but it’s impossible now,” admits Bartley by phone from his home in Colorado.

Firefall will appear as a trio, not the full band for the Music Hall concert.

“We will not have our sax and flute player and our drummer, but we play all the songs and usually in these cases; the venue gives the package of three groups two and a half hours, so we probably will only have a 35-45 minute set but in that time frame I can play the set list of the biggest songs that we have; stretch out a little bit and jam and people love it! I’m just happy to be coming and having never been at that venue before it’s going to be nice after all this time to be playing a new venue and we love coming back east,” he stated.

Firefall’s biggest hit, “You Are the Woman” is among the fan favorite at their concerts. But “Cinderella” is their most requested song.

“You Are the Woman” has received 5,000,000 airplays domestically which is a fairly staggering figure; “Just Remember I Love You” and “Strange Way” have had 3,000,000 airplays thanks to Rick Roberts who wrote all of those songs but our most requested song is “Cinderella” and that was an FM hit that didn’t really climb the charts; it was an AM single in 1976 when they released it after, “You Are the Woman” but it got huge amounts of airplay. "Cinderella" is probably my favorite Firefall song along with “Mexico” and “Strange Way” but when we recorded “Cinderella” everything that we added to that song when we were recording it, ended up enhancing it and making the song sound ‘more magical.’ He continued, "A lot of times you’re in the studio and you add a bunch of stuff and you think, “Well, this is going to be great” and it sounds less like a hit or it sounds or it’s gotten away from what you thought it might sound. “Cinderella” you hear that on the radio today and it still gets a lot of airplay on classic rock stations and it sounds so great with the mix, the parts, the vocals; the synergy of that song where there were six guys in the studio combining to make a perfect recording on that song, I think we succeeded,” praises Bartley.

Firefall does not go on long tours like they used to. They have second jobs as weekend lawyers.

“I wish we did play longer gigs. This gig in Tarrytown is a one-off show. I’m flying into New York and flying back the next day to Colorado. The week after that, we’re playing a gig up in Michigan on Valentines Day and then fly to Tampa and Orlando for two gigs so we have a three-day weekend so we play weekends and it works out good,” he said.

For more information on this concert and other events, visit the Tarrytown Music Hall website.


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jo February 15, 2013 at 03:40 PM
Now that's entertainment


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