CLEARWATER — Three legendary bands will join forces to share the stage for one epic concert of soft-rock and country-rock favorites.
Firefall, Poco and Pure Prairie League will perform Saturday, Aug. 31, 7:30 p.m., at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. Tickets start at $38.75. Call 727-791-7400 or visit www.rutheckerdhall.com.
For founder Jock Bartley, Firefall is a 40-year labor of love. Serving up layered harmonies backed by driving rhythms, their music transcends many genres, incorporating both rock, country and folk. Their work has earned the band platinum and gold success with such hits as “You Are the Woman,” “Strange Way” and “Just Remember I Love You.” Other major Firefall radio hits include “Cinderella,” “Goodbye I Love You,” “Livin’ Ain’t Livin’” and “Mexico.”
The current members of Poco see themselves as a band reborn.
For more than 50 years, Poco’s distinctive harmonies and stellar musicianship helped define the sound of country rock. Still led by the band’s co-founder and multi-instrumentalist who wrote and sang their biggest hits, they are a dedicated unit of four formidable songwriters, vocalists, arrangers and players. And rather than rest on any of these considerable laurels, they instead hit stages coast-to-coast armed with the kind of classic songs and instrumental chops that puts performers half their age to shame.
“Poco has a history unmatched by any band,” said co-founder Rusty Young in a press release. “We’ve always been formed by individually unique artists. It’s fate that the four of us came together, and it’s a process of evolution that we’ve become a better and better band.”
Poco members include Young on steel and acoustic guitars, dobro, mandolin, banjo and vocals; Jack Sundrud on bass and vocals; Michael Webb on keyboards, mandolin, accordion, guitars and vocals; and Rick Lonow on drums and vocals.
“We’re so in tune with each other musically and personally that I consider us to be one of the very best bands that Poco has ever had,” Young said.
Rising from the ashes of Buffalo Springfield, Poco was founded in 1967 by Young, Richie Furay, George Grantham and Jim Messina. Over the next five decades, alongside band mates that would also include Paul Cotton, Randy Meisner and Timothy B. Schmit, Young became not only the musical core of the band, but also the writer and vocalist behind hits including “Rose of Cimarron” and the No. 1 smash “Crazy Love.”
“I made a promise to myself that Poco would only keep going if we remained a band of real musicians who were having fun,” Rusty said. “Because audiences can tell the difference.”
For the band’s legion of longtime fans — known as “Poconuts” — as well as new converts, it’s Poco’s live performances where their newfound attitude and energy truly goes next level.
“We challenge each other every time we’re onstage,” said Young. “Which means that no two shows are ever alike. Between Michael and I, we play 10 different instruments and are able to open up some musically adventurous journeys.”
Young — arguably the most influential steel player in rock & roll history — was inducted into Guitar Player Magazine’s Gallery of Greats in 2012. Even though the band’s been at it for more than half a century, Young believes that it’s still hitting its stride in the studio and on stage.
“We don’t feel like a 50-year old band,” Young said. “Poco has never slowed down or stopped making new music. Everyone loves the challenge of being in Poco, and we’re all working hard at moving the band towards new audiences. We love playing for people who haven’t heard Poco in a while — or are maybe hearing them for the first time — and having them discover who Poco is today.”
Pure Prairie League continues to embellish its rich 45-year history of one of country-rock’s pioneering forces.
From their beginnings in Ohio as a group of friends playing cover tunes to the present-day unit featuring founding member/pedal-steel innovator John David Call, veteran bassist Mike Reilly, drummer Scott Thompson and guitar ace Donnie Clark, Pure Prairie League continues to lead the way for the new generation of country-rockers such as Keith Urban, Wilco and Nickel Creek.
When Pure Prairie League formed in the late 1960s, no one had put a label on the music they played. Although the band drew heavily from 1960s rock, the group added a heavy dose of country and high-flying harmony that gave it a unique sound soon to be known as country-rock. The band reached mainstream radio listeners by the mid-1970s with hit songs such as “Amie,” “Early Morning Riser” and “Let Me Love You Tonight.”
Their eponymous first album — featuring the Norman Rockwell/Saturday Evening Post cover that introduced fans to PPL’s trademark cowpoke Sad Luke — has been hailed as a significant early influence in the emerging popularity of country-rock music. Their second effort, the multi-platinum “Bustin’ Out,” brought listeners the Craig Fuller-penned classic “Amie,” along with other gems of the genre.
With “Two Lane Highway,” nine more albums and countless shows, a legacy has been forged and enriched during the ’70s and ’80s, highlighting contributions from several noteworthy members, including co-founder George Powell, Cincinnati’s legendary Goshorn Brothers, Country Hall of Famers Gary Burr and Vince Gill, award-winning writer Jeff Wilson and a host of other guest appearances from Chet Atkins, EmmyLou Harris, David Sanborn, Eagle Don Felder, Nicolette Larson, and many more.