Poco plays Clearwater’s Blast Friday event Oct. 25 in the Cleveland Street district.
CLEARWATER – Featuring a performance by Poco, pioneers of the country-rock sound, Bright House Networks will present Clearwater’s Blast Friday on Friday, Oct. 25, on the 400 block of the Cleveland Street district.
Blast Friday, a free street festival, features a variety of vendors, as well as food, beer, wine and nonalcoholic beverages. Festivities kick off with a street at 5:30 p.m. Entertainment continues outside until 10 p.m. Poco will take the stage at 8:30 p.m.
A limited number of VIP tickets are available priced at $25. The VIP package includes a general admission ticket in the reserved seating section directly in front of the stage, one free beer and a free slice of pepperoni or cheese pizza from Tony's Pizzeria. VIP tickets are available at the Ruth Eckerd Hall ticket office, 1111 McMullen Booth Road. Call 791-7400 or visit www.atthecap.com.
For 45 years, Poco has been making music in the realm of the classic country rock sound that they helped found in the late '60's, one that inspired other acts to follow suit – bands such as The Eagles, Firefall, The Little River Band and Pure Prairie League.
To endure across six decades, the band knew long ago they needed to attract a rabid fan base that considers their music to be a soundtrack to their lives. At the same time, Poco continued to evolve and refine their sound while staying true to their roots. Over the years, Poco has succeeded at achieving both of these goals. “All Fired Up,” their new studio album – their first in 11 years – is a celebration of longevity and unparalleled songwriting.
Still led by singer and songwriter Rusty Young, the addition of two more excellent songwriters in bassist Jack Sundrud and keyboardist Michael Webb as well as drummer George Lawrence over the past decade, helped to reshape Poco for another generation.
“The music has evolved over the years,” said Young in a press release from Michael J. Media. “Different band members bring different voices to the sound and in many ways keep the music fresh. History shows that Poco has always had great musicians in the band and it's no different today. We're growing musically, challenging ourselves and moving ahead to create the best music we've ever made.”
Released this March, “All Fired Up” was self-produced and recorded at several studios including Sixteen Tons in Nashville, the home studios of Sundrud and Webb, Wildwood Lodge in Missouri and Sound Emporium in Nashville. The album shows a band that has no problem celebrating its storied past while enjoying every minute of the present. And Young explains the diversity of the material that also manages to stay cohesive.
“Most of the songs were written in the last year or so,” he said. “It took me two years to get 'Regret' to the point I was happy with it and ‘A Little Rain’ is a song we've been doing in concert for the last three years. Jack's ‘Hard Country’ is a concert favorite we've been playing for a number of years too. The title track was a song that was written just for the CD. We wanted to give a nod to the classic Poco sound that everyone loves from the early days and we think 'All Fired Up' nails it. Michael (Webb) has Bobby Keys playing sax on one of his songs, 'That's What Rock 'n Roll Will Do,' which is very cool. Jack's 'Hard Country' is destined to be a Poco classic. I'm especially excited about a song called 'Rockin' Horse' for a couple of reasons.”
There is also the tongue-in-cheek “Neil Young,” which talks about Rusty not being Neil's brother.
“I don't think Neil has heard it yet,” Young joked. “I would hope he'd get a kick out of it and I wonder how many times people have asked him about his brother Rusty.”
Young is also celebrating his induction into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in St. Louis alongside other steel players that helped influence him. In addition, Young is in Guitar Player Magazine's Gallery of Greats along with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn. In addition Poco boasts a Grammy nomination for ‘Instrumental of the Year’ and fans can find the band's memorabilia on display at the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Poco, which has never stopped touring over the years despite lineup changes, will tour a bit more vigorously in support of “All Fired Up.”
“We're anxious to show everyone that we're excited about the future for Poco and we're fired up and ready to go,” said Young. “We're hoping to reintroduce Poco to the fans that may have drifted away over the years, and to remind them of why they were fans in the first place. And it would of course be great if the CD captures new fans. We're always trying to attract new Poconuts.”
Of course, it's inevitable that the longer a band stays together, the more it often has to change in order to adapt and stick around – and also has to love what they do. That's the takeaway from a poignant narrative written by Lawrence for the album.
“There is no manual for a 45-year-old rock band,” he said.
“Long time Poco fans will find plenty of nods to the earlier sound, while new-found fans will hear the new energy and direction,” said Sundrud. “All Fired Up’ is aptly titled, relevant to the band’s musical roots and blazing a new trail into the future. The songs are rocking, thought-provoking, fun and most of all, pure Poco.”
Known as pioneers of the country-rock sound that soared out of California in the late ‘60 and early ’70s, Poco was founded by Richie Furay, Jim Messina, and Rusty Young, a trio whose lifetime musical journey began while working on the Buffalo Springfield's final album, “The Last Time Around.”
With the addition of George Grantham and Randy Meisner, the initial Poco lineup was set.
Following the Poco’s 1969 debut, “Pickin' Up The Pieces,” the band went through several personnel changes including the departure of Jim Messina and Richie Furay, as well as when bassist Randy Meisner left to join The Eagles.
Poco went on to chart several times with hits like “Crazy Love” and “Heart of the Night,” both from the critically acclaimed “Legend” album, as well as “Rose of Cimarron,” “Good Feeling To Know” and “You'd Better Think Twice.”
In 1989, the band brought back Messina, Furay and Meisner to record “Legacy,” which spawned a few more of the band's Top 40 hits, “Call It Love” and “Nothing To Hide.”
Poco's new millennium releases – 2002’s “Running Horse,” 2005’s “Bareback At Big Sky,” the
2004 live CD/DVD “Keeping The Legend Alive” and 2013's “All Fired Up” – are among the best of their career. With 45 years, more than 25 albums and thousands of fans behind them, Poco was, is and forever will be the defining voice of country/rock.
Blast Friday was established in 2009 as downtown Clearwater’s free, family-friendly street festival. Supported by the city of Clearwater, the Cleveland Street District and the Downtown Development Board and produced by Ruth Eckerd Hall On The Road, Blast Friday hosts 10 events a year bringing more than 40,000 people to downtown Clearwater.
Upcoming Blast Friday featured performers include Little River Band, Dec. 27; Pure Prairie League, Jan. 31; Gregg Rolie, Feb. 28; Firefall, March 28; Mark Farner with Stormbringer, April 25; and the Edgar Winter Band, May 30.