RICHIE FURAY Q&A:
‘50TH ANNIVERSARY RETURN TO THE TROUBADOUR’:
“Still DeLIVErin’” and “DeLIVErin’ Again”
NEW DOUBLE ALBUM + DVD
For your new double album + DVD, which comprises two different sets, you went back to the Troubadour in Los Angeles to record it. The club was the important launch pad for Poco in 1968. Can you tell us a little a bit about those early gigs? It’s said that a lot of musical luminaries of the time were on hand for those shows.
RICHIE FURAY: When Buffalo Springfield broke up, there was a definite interest in what the members were going to do. Stephen Stills was off with Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield and the “Super Sessions” album, and Neil Young was being Neil, pursuing his solo career, while Dewey Martin and Bruce Palmer looked to what the future would hold for them. At the same time Jimmy Messina and I were planning our next move in putting together another group that would be a rock and roll band with country influences. Once we had the line-up complete (George Grantham, Randy Meisner and Rusty Young), we began working at the Troubadour, using it for rehearsals in the afternoon and performing there at night. It was at the Troubadour where the interest in the Los Angeles music circle really took hold as people (local musicians) were hearing the sound we were creating as being something fresh and new, and yes, it attracted many who liked the music and sound we helped give birth to–as the attendance night after night continued to grow to full Troubadour capacity. It was an exciting time; L.A. and the Laurel Canyon community afforded us the privilege of creating a new sound that would continue on and become popular for years as other groups began to use what we were doing as their template. I don’t remember all who came to see us but there were many.
(Editor’s note: members of the Byrds, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Flying Burrito Brothers including Gram Parsons, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, J.D. Souther, Ricky Nelson, John Stewart and future members of the Eagles [Glenn Frey, Don Henley and Bernie Leadon, not to mention Randy Meisner onstage as an early member of Poco.] Also, in addition to Ricky Nelson, Ozzie and Harriet were in attendance in a booth at the venue as well as The Smothers Brothers.)
What was it like to perform the Deliverin’ album in its entirety at the Troubadour?
FURAY: This was actually something that I never thought could happen. My manager David Stone had been trying to persuade me for a couple of years to perform the Poco Deliverin’ album in its entirety, and I had always responded that it’ll never happen. I had been doing a few of the songs in my live performances for some time, but the thought of actually trying to capture the moment and excitement of doing all of those songs “live” was going to be a challenge. I do believe that my group, at that time, was the only “representation” of Poco that could attempt it and I believe the final product speaks for itself–it was a challenge, and we met the challenge. Having Timothy B. Schmit join us for one of his songs was an extra added bonus and having him return for the encore.
Did performing the Deliverin’ album give you a new perspective on it—and on any songs from it?
FURAY: It’s interesting; I don’t know exactly what I was going through at the time of the original recording, what was taking place in my life, but many of the songs that I had not been doing currently, certainly did resonate with me (50 years later) in relation to life situations I was going through when we recorded it.
Deliverin’ was a distinctive live album in that it included new Poco originals not included on previous albums (“I Guess You Made It,” “C’mon,” “A Man Like Me,” “Hear That Music,” “Hard Luck”). The album was also highlighted by medleys of Poco songs, one of which included your song from the Buffalo Springfield (“Child’s Claim To Fame”). The album also features another one of your songs from the Buffalo Springfield, “Kind Woman,” which many regard as the definitive version of the classic song. What are your thoughts on the original album?
FURAY: There were a lot of non-studio songs on the Deliverin’ album. In fact, the first three songs that opened the set had not been on earlier albums. We were not afraid to play songs people hadn’t heard because we knew they would connect and we could “deliver” them; we were confident to rely on our musicianship, songwriting and “live” performance skills to capture the hearts of the Poco fans who have actually become somewhat of a “cult following” In the set we would weave older songs in the set such as my Buffalo Springfield songs, knowing they were significant to our identity. Most of the other songs came from Poco’s first album, Pickin’ Up The Pieces.
At a time when America was caught up in the Vietnam War, Poco’s rocking country music and high harmonies eased the existential anxiety and lit up a lot of music fans. ‘Deliverin’ not only powerfully captures that feeling and the bond you had with your fans, but really underlined that Poco was one of rock’s best live acts. What do you remember about audiences and the shows from that time?
FURAY: Poco never had any trouble getting people on their feet at our concerts. The people were ready to leave the cares of the world behind for a couple of hours at our concerts. There was really a lot of “audience participation,” a connection we had with our audiences; it was something I believe many looked forward to if they had seen us previously as we would interact with them and they with us and it made for a special evening–one that even today people comment about. I think that’s what made the original recording an important “memory milestone” in so many people’s lives today.