Photo by Laura Schneider
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Their sound was a staple of the ‘70s and early ‘80s, that melodic mixture of country-rock laced with FM radio pop. Pure Prairie League, with its crisp, clean harmonies and breezy songs, were innovative purveyors of that style. The band not only enjoyed commercial success, but also cemented its reputation as an early influence for future luminaries such as Keith Urban, Nickel Creek, Wilco, and Counting Crows.
But this isn’t a nostalgia story, nor is it a comeback bid; Pure Prairie League never quit. Officially formed in 1969 in Ohio, PPL continues its successful tenure more than 50 years later. Many personnel changes have come and gone, and there were certainly a few years of relative quiet, but this group of musicians has held steadfast to their artistic vision. Today, PPL is in high demand as a touring band with the chops, the hits, and the legacy to back it up.
Pure Prairie League makes musical magic onstage along with Firefall and Richie Furay on Saturday, November 18 at 8:00pm (doors @ 7:00pm) at Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), 100 South Street in Morristown, NJ. Tickets are $39-$89; all ages are welcome. For more information, please click HERE.
The current PPL lineup features founding member/pedal-steel innovator John David Call, drummer Scott Thompson, keyboard master Randy Harper, Jared Camic on bass and lead guitar ace Jeff Zona. Together they have 10 studio albums to draw from and a treasure chest of popular tunes.
Pure Prairie League is best known for five pivotal radio hits – 1975’s soaring “Amie,” followed by “Two Lane Highway”, 1980’s romantic “Let Me Love You Tonight” and “I’m Almost Ready,” and 1981’s “Still Right Here in My Heart.” Among the band’s most successful albums are Bustin’ Out (originally released in 1972 but a commercial hit in 1975), 1975’s Two Lane Highway, 1976’s If the Shoe Fits, and 1980’s Firin’ Up.
Firin’ Up, PPL’s first album for Casablanca Records after a long tenure with RCA, was the second Pure Prairie League effort to feature young singer/songwriter and guitarist Vince Gill. Vince joined the band in 1978 and stayed until 1982. He later became a huge country music superstar and one of the genre’s most respected singer-songwriter-guitarists.
Craig Fuller, a PPL co-founder and “Amie” songwriter, became front man for Little Feat in the late 80s before returning to Pure Prairie League in 1999. Two other famous alums from Pure Prairie League are Nashville musician, songwriter, and record producer Gary Burr, and vocalist-guitarist Curtis Wright, one of the most prolific studio singers in contemporary country.
Such esteemed veterans of the group provide further proof that Pure Prairie League is country-rock royalty. If you could blend clear mountain water with organic Kentucky moonshine and put it on a record, it would sound like Pure Prairie League. It just goes to show you, those homegrown qualities never go out of style.