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Advice

Jeff Moehlis: Rusty Young Sittin’ In With Jim Messina at Lobero

Former band mates in Buffalo Springfield and Poco to join forces at Sept. 13 show in Santa Barbara

Rusty Young will be sittin’ in with former band mate Jim Messina at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara on Sunday.
Rusty Young will be sittin’ in with former band mate Jim Messina at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara on Sunday. (Contributed photo)

Jim Messina and Rusty Young first played music together in the waning days of the great Buffalo Springfield, with Young adding pedal steel guitar to Richie Furay's signature song, "Kind Woman," released way back in 1968.

As Buffalo Springfield fell apart, Messina, Young and Furay picked up the pieces and founded the pioneering country rock band Poco.

Messina and Furay eventually left for other projects (Loggins & Messina, the Souther Hillman Furay Band), but Young carried on, and is Poco's only continuous member throughout the band's illustrious history.

Young will be sittin' in with Messina at the Lobero Theatre on Sunday, Sept. 13 — tickets are available here.

He talked to Noozhawk about the upcoming show. The full interview is available here.

                                                                        •        •

Jeff Moehlis: Hi Rusty! Is this a good time for the interview?

Rusty Young: Interviews? I don't do no stinking interviews!

JM: [laughs]  Let's start with kind of a generic question — what can people look forward to at the upcoming concert?

RY: Yeah, really, I love that question. Oh, a lot of Elvis covers, actually. I'm going to do "Love Me Tender"...  [JM laughs]

What you can expect is the interplay between musicians that are all really, really talented people. I don't do a lot of shows with Jimmy (Messina). Jimmy's a really, really old friend. Well, he's not old, but the friendship is old. He'd kill me if I said he was really old.

You know, it's a chance for really, really great musicians who have known each other for a long time to have interplay, to be able to play back and forth. And we only do it a couple of times a year, because we both have things going on.

You know, I've got Poco and other solo things I'm doing, that kind of stuff, and he has all the stuff that he does, which is a ton of stuff. So it's a rare chance for the two of us to renew our friendship and to play music together, something we've been doing since 1968.

JM: When and where did you guys first meet each other?

RY: We met when Richie (Furay) called me. Jimmy was producing the Last Time Around record by the Buffalo Springfield. They were working on a song by Richie Furay, and Richie decided he wanted steel guitar on it. And a friend of mine who worked with him said, "I know who you should call."

So I was living in Colorado and got the call, "Would you like to come out and play pedal steel on a Buffalo Springfield record?" And I loved the Springfield, and I said, "Sure, I'd love to do that." So I flew out and played on a song called "Kind Woman."

That was actually the beginning of Poco, because Springfield was dissolved really at that time, and Jimmy and Richie wanted to keep playing music. The three of us just hit it off — we had similar backgrounds and interests, and we loved the notion of mixing country and rock 'n' roll music together. So that was the beginning of Poco. That's when I first met Jimmy, that first day when I flew into Los Angeles and went to the studio and put pedal steel on "Kind Woman".

JM: So when you guys started, what was the initial vision for the band?

RY: Well, we wanted to do things that other people weren't doing at the time, and that was country rock. It's really hard to believe, but back then there weren't synthesizers, so if you wanted to bring in an outside-sounding instrument, not just piano, bass, drums, and guitar, you had to actually play it. And so, it turns out, I play banjo and mandolin and dobro and steel guitar and guitar, all those country instruments I grew up learning how to play.

So I fit in because I was the color guy. I could add all these different colors to the really great songs that Richie Furay wrote, and Jimmy's guitar playing fit in perfectly.  He had that kind of Bakersfield sound guitar that Mark Knopfler stole later on.

So it was a neat perfect fit, and we just wanted to meld together Richie's kind of Buffalo Springfield rock 'n' roll with country instruments. And country instruments not playing country, but playing music, just playing things that maybe another instrument would play, but this time they're played on a country instrument. It was an interesting notion, and a lot of people really liked it, like Gram Parsons.

JM: I do want to ask you about "Crazy Love," because that's one of your songs. How did that particular song come together?

RY: You know, you talk to other writers and it rarely happens. It was just a gift. It took 20 minutes to write. I was living in Los Angeles and I was doing some work around the house, and that melody (sings) "It happens all the time,"  I just heard that melody. Then it was really easy to finish. I went over and picked up the guitar, and it couldn't have been more than a half hour later and the song was done.

The funny thing is at the end of the chorus, it goes, (sings) "Ooh-ooh, crazy love / Ahh ha", when I played it for the guys, I said, "Don't worry, I'll put words there." They went, "Oh no, don't do that, don't do that!" It was just a gift. I just got really lucky. I wish it happened more often."

— Jeff Moehlis is a Noozhawk contributing writer and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his web site, music-illuminati.com. The opinions expressed are his own.

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