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Jeff Moehlis: Richie Furay to Play in Santa Ynez

Co-founder of Buffalo Springfield and Poco to perform at the Maverick Saloon

Richie Furay is best known for co-founding two important and influential bands: Buffalo Springfield, which is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and for which Furay was one of the primary songwriters along with Neil Young and Stephen Stills; and Poco, which is regarded as one of the pioneering bands of the country-rock genre.

After leaving Poco in the early 1970s, Furay was in the short-lived supergroup Souther-Hillman-Furay, and has since released several solo records. His song credits include “Kind Woman,” “A Child’s Claim to Fame,” “Hurry Up,” “Keep On Believin’,” “You Are the One” and “Let’s Dance Tonight.” Furay’s main gig these days is as pastor of Calvary Chapel in Broomfield, Colo.

Furay passed through Santa Barbara last summer as part of the Buffalo Springfield reunion tour. On Feb. 1, he will be performing at the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez as the kickoff performer for the 10th year of the Tales From the Tavern series.

Furay answered the following questions by email. Click here for the full interview.

Richie Furay, shown here at the Santa Barbara Bowl as part of the Buffalo Springfield reunion tour last summer, will perform Feb. 1 at the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez.
Richie Furay, shown here at the Santa Barbara Bowl as part of the Buffalo Springfield reunion tour last summer, will perform Feb. 1 at the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez. (L. Paul Mann photo)

Jeff Moehlis: What can we look forward to at your upcoming concert at the Maverick Saloon?

Richie Furay: I will be playing songs that span 40-plus years of my career — something old, something new. We include songs from each phase of my career — Buffalo Springfield, Poco, Souther Hillman-Furay and my more recent solo musical projects that include “Heartbeat of Love” with many of my friends guest appearing (Young, Stills, Timothy B. Schmit, Jeff Hanna, Rusty Young, Paul Cotton, Mark Volman, Kenny Loggins and many more), The Richie Furay Band Alive — and two devotional CDs, In My Father’s House and I Am Sure.

Sometimes it’s hard to decide what to play and what not to play because we’re always writing new songs to keep us inspired as well. Also featured in my set are several songs my daughter Jesse sings.

JM: Can you tell me about the band that will be joining you for this show?

RF: I like to describe my band as a multi-generational, family band. It includes Scott Sellen (guitar, banjo, lap steel, piano and vocals), his son Aaron (bass), Alan Lemke (drums) and my daughter Jesse Lynch (vocals). I am very proud of my band, obviously the “kids” keep us “old folks” young and it so awesome to hear them play the music with such a fresh approach.

JM: We’re very happy that the Buffalo Springfield reunion tour stopped in Santa Barbara in 2011. Great show! How did it feel to be playing with Stephen and Neil again after all these years?

RF: It was a lot of fun for all of us. I believe the fact that there were no “agenda” made it all the more enjoyable — we just got together and played the music. Of course, it came as a surprise to me that it would ever happen, but I’ve learned “never say never.” When the phone call came to do the Bridge School benefit, it was the furthest thing from my mind that we would ever perform together again. It was nowhere on my radar — not even a “blip” on the screen. It was from those two nights that prompted the seven shows last summer. It was so nice to renew our friendship after all these years.

JM: Sorry, but I have to ask: What is the status of the Buffalo Springfield tour plans for 2012?

RF: There are no current plans.

JM: After Buffalo Springfield broke up, you and Jim Messina formed Poco. What were your goals for this band?

RF: We were interested in exploring how to bridge the gap between country and pop and rock and roll. We both had country influences, and along with The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers we pioneered a sound that would be significant for many years to come. Certainly the Eagles (Glenn Frey sat in my living room for many Poco rehearsals) perfected it from the R&R side, and today you can still hear the influence we had in the current country music. Poco, along with the above mentioned, was certainly the pioneer of the “country-rock” sound.

JM: At the time, Poco was sometimes called “too country for rock, too rock for country.” What is your take on that description?

RF: When you’re a pioneer, you’re breaking the ground for those who’ll follow. Because of that, many times you go unnoticed and find that others are not yet ready to come along on the journey. We were doing what was natural to us. It wasn’t that we were ahead of our time as far as we were concerned, but to many we were and so we were told we were “too country for rock and too rock for country.” I guess that’s our legacy for the time.

JM: Do you want to set the record straight on anything about your music or career?

RF: I believe Poco has been slighted in regard to their contribution to popular music. Their influence goes without question, yet for whatever reason (there’s not enough dirt to dig up on ‘em; they weren’t controversial enough or they didn’t have the hit records — whatever excuse) they have not been given their proper recognition as far as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is concerned. I know there are a lot of bands worthy of this honor for their contributions (i.e., The Turtles, The Moody Blues), but Poco influenced popular music for decades through those who perfected and carried out what they pioneered — the country-rock sound.

JM: Where are you responding from?

RF: Boulder, Colo. Hope to see you up in Santa Ynez. Visit me at www.richiefuray.com.

Noozhawk contributing writer Jeff Moehlis is a professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.

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