27 October 2000
Grizzly Rose, Thornton, CO
Which group invented "country rock"? Some say Buffalo Springfield, some say the Eagles, some say both. Well, five members of these two groups have spent various lengths of time in the group POCO. The Grizzly Rose is, and has been for a while, the "country" in country rock. The part-time Western dance parlor is laden with Urban Cowboy themes.
The surprise for the evening, thanks to the internet, was no surprise to most POCO fans--founding member Richie Furay would join the band for a few songs during their set. Richie originally left the band in 1973, briefly re-joined to add vocals in 1984, and then reformed the original lineup for a very successful comeback in 1989. Since Richie is a minister in Boulder, his commute to Thornton was no biggie. Before the show, I made sure I greeted him and thanked him for joining the evening's party.
POCO walked on stage at 9 P.M., and opened a set that didn't really offer any huge surprises. Rusty Young, with his Stratocaster wired for Midi, started off the evening with synthesizer-like sounds to launch into "Legend". Rusty, who, like drummer George Grantham, used to perform in a Denver band called Boenzee Cryque, expressed to the crowd his happiness in being back home in the Mile High City.
Next came "Call It Love", a slow, countryish, 2/4-timed "Rose of Cimarron", an underproduced "Days Gone By", "Spellbound", and a very slow, bluesy "Rough Edges", having a feel similar to his 1980 track, "Reputation".
The band's rhythm section changed recently. Gone are bassist Richard Neville and drummer Tim Smith. Back are a 1980s POCO bassist/songwriter, Jack Sundrud, and the band's original drummer George Grantham. During POCO's acoustic set, both Jack and George participated, often by adding rich vocals to the mix. George is still one of the best singing drummers. He's in great shape, 31 years after joining the band!
The acoustic set included Timothy B. Schmidt's "Keep On Tryin'". Subsequently, Richie walked on the stage to take lead vocals on "Pickin' Up The Pieces", "A Child's Claim To Fame", and "Good Feeling To Know" in the key of D. Richie then exited stage left, with Rusty promising that he'd return.
Next came "Crazy Love" featuring George on triangle, "(In The) Heart Of The Night", and "Boomerang". Rusty is definitely a madman on his Carter Pedal Steel. I was able to stand 4 feet from his Carter, studying his hand/feet coordination.
True to Rusty's promise, Richie teamed up with the rest of the guys for a two-song encore: Neil Young's "On The Way Home", and his legendary "Kind Woman".
In the audience tonight was longtime fan and photographer Sue Klukan, a.k.a. "Calico Lady", who emptied two rolls of 35 mm on Rusty, Paul, Richie, George, and Jack.
The funny thing about this evening was the fact that POCO actually served as an opening act for another country rock band, Pure Prairie League. PPL has obviously gone hard over on country, but not rock. After my friend and I heard, "Let Me Love You Tonight", and three other songs that sounded like it, we left.
I think it's safe to say that this was one of the rare times that the majority of an audience payed to see the opening act.
[****] - Steven T.
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