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Richie Furay, Firefall, and Pure Prairie League in Legends of Country Rock LIVE! at MPAC


By Spotlight Central, Photos by Love Imagery

originally published: 12/01/2023

Richie Furay, Firefall, and Pure Prairie League in Legends of Country Rock LIVE! at MPAC

Fans of country rock are in the house this Saturday, November 18, 2023 evening at Morristown, NJ’s MPAC ready for a Legends of Country Rock concert starring Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Richie Furay, Firefall, and Pure Prairie League.

The lights inside the MPAC auditorium dim and guitarist Jeff Zona, keyboardist Randy Harper, bassist Jared Camic, drummer Scott Thompson, and pedal steel guitarist John David Call take the stage announcing, “For 54 years this band has been traveling around making music. We are Pure Prairie League!”

Opening with “Angel #9,” guitarist Jeff Zona pointedly sings, “Turn around, looks like it’s happened one more time,” on this rhythmic country rock tune.

Richie Furay, Firefall, and Pure Prairie League in Legends of Country Rock LIVE! at MPAC

The crowd applauds amiably, and keyboardist Randy Harper jokes, “It’s Saturday night — you don’t have to be polite!”

Drummer Scott Thompson handles the lead on the folk-rocker, “Early Morning Riser,” where Randy Harper adds a cascading piano part and PPL founding member John David Call plays a twangy pedal steel guitar solo.



 
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The band follows up with the rockin’ “Heart of Her Own” on an arrangement which features lead vocals and rhythmic guitar picking by Zona before his stagemates join in singing in harmony on the song’s “Heart of her own/Sometimes fire, then it’s stone” refrain.

Thompson acknowledges, “For 54 years, this next song has been our way of honoring Merle Haggard.” Launching into the crowd-pleaser, “I’ll Change Your Flat Tire, Merle,” keyboardist Harper sings, “I’ll fix your flat tire Merle/Don’t ya get your sweet country pickin’ fingers all covered with ‘erl,’” Harper plays a barrelhouse piano solo, and Call impresses with a twangy pedal steel guitar solo on this fast-paced novelty tune.

Richie Furay, Firefall, and Pure Prairie League in Legends of Country Rock LIVE! at MPAC

The crowd cheers, and Zona jokes, “This next tune should have allowed us to retire, but we didn’t!” as the musicians skip into their 1980 Top 10 hit, “Let Me Love You Tonight.” Audience members sway as they happily join in singing the number’s “Let me love you tonight/There’s a million stars in the sky” chorus on this country-flavored pop tune.

Dueling bass and guitar are featured on the catchy country-rocker, “Woman,” and bassist Jared Camic sings lead and Zona plays a twangy guitar solo on “Harvest,” a funky country tune set to a rock beat.

Harper explains, “This next song was recorded with a 50-piece orchestra. During the pandemic we tried to figure out how we could perform it live,” prior to gesturing to his keyboard and joking, “I have an orchestra of 50 little Minions in here.” Here, Zona sings lead on “Call Me, Tell Me,” a sweeping country-rocker which features rhythmic guitar strumming accompanied by deft steel pedal guitar, bass, drum, and orchestral keyboard playing.

After introducing each band member — notably founder John David Call, whom his colleagues affectionately refer to as “The Pontiff of the Steel Guitar” — the musicians reveal they are set to release a new album in January which includes their next song, “Modern Problem.”

Richie Furay, Firefall, and Pure Prairie League in Legends of Country Rock LIVE! at MPAC

On this upbeat country rocker with a funky groove, Camic plays low and funky on the bass, Harper adds a fluttering keyboard solo, and Call slides up and down the strings of his pedal steel while accompanying Zona on an electric guitar solo.



 
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The band dedicates its next selection — the upbeat country rocker, “Two Lane Highway” — to first responders everywhere on an arrangement which features lead vocals by drummer Scott Thompson and a crying John David Call pedal steel solo.

Keyboardist Harper switches over to acoustic guitar prior to joking, “If we don’t do this next song, we’ll probably be run out of town!” Here, Pure Prairie League sails into “Falling In and Out of Love,” the prelude to the group’s 1975 Top 40 hit, “Amie.”

Richie Furay, Firefall, and Pure Prairie League in Legends of Country Rock LIVE! at MPAC

After smoothly segueing into “Amie,” the house lights shine over the audience and the band invites the crowd to sing the “Amie, what you want to do?/I think I could stay with you/For a while, maybe longer if I do” refrain before music lovers leap out of their seats and cheer for Pure Prairie League.

Buffalo Springfield, Poco, and Souther-Hillman-Furay Band founding member Richie Furay takes the stage with his daughter, vocalist Jessie Lynch, along with guitarist Dan Skarda. Declaring, “I’m the grandfather of country rock!” Furay inquires, “How did you like my grandkids, Pure Prairie League?” The crowd roars its approval and Furay continues, “Welcome to our living room. It’s gonna be a rockin’ good show!”

His voice sounding as youthful as ever, Furay plays acoustic guitar as he croons, “Here I go again, it’s all right/Full moons grown to brighten the night,” on an unplugged rendition of Souther-Hillman-Furay’s 1974 hit, “Fallin’ in Love.”

Richie Furay, Firefall, and Pure Prairie League in Legends of Country Rock LIVE! at MPAC

Accompanied by Skarda on acoustic along with tight vocal harmonies by Jessie Lynch, the arrangement decreases in volume on the coda, at which point Furay explains, “That ending was a fade!”

The crowd cheers, and Furay dedicates his next number, “Kind Woman,” to his wife of 56 years, Nancy, and also to Nancy, the wife of his manager David Stone. Three-part harmonies ring out on this country waltz where the trio sings, “Kind woman/Won’t you love me tonight?” and audience members sway in time to the Buffalo Springfield classic.

Revealing, “I have four daughters and #4 is sitting beside me,” Furay introduces Jessie Lynch who impresses on her rendition of the country tune, “I Wish It Would Rain.” Then, guitars duel as Furay follows up with Buffalo Springfield’s “A Child’s Claim to Fame.” Revealing he wrote the song about his bandmate, Neil Young, Furay confesses, “I love him! We had a lot of fun making a lot of music together.”

Richie Furay, Firefall, and Pure Prairie League in Legends of Country Rock LIVE! at MPAC

Furay tells concertgoers about his work as a pastor and then gets the audience clapping along on the contemporary Christian song, “Wake Up My Soul,” a rousing worship number which has the crowd enthusiastically cheering at the end.

Following up with “Someday,” a lively country rocker which Furay recently re-recorded with Keb’ Mo’, the audience hoots and hollers and Furay responds, “We love to come to Jersey to play!” Launching into the patriotic “America America,” Furay, Lynch, and Skarda harmonize on the “America America/God shed your grace, please do” refrain.

Richie Furay, Firefall, and Pure Prairie League in Legends of Country Rock LIVE! at MPAC



 
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The crowd stands and cheers. Then, Furay welcomes the members of Firefall, announcing, “We’re gonna play a few more country rock songs for you.” Starting off with Neil Young’s driving “On the Way Home,” Furay, Lynch, and Skarda are accompanied by Firefall’s full complement of instruments including two guitars, keyboard, bass, and drums.

After acknowledging, “That was a ‘BS’ — Buffalo Springfield — song,” Furay recalls, “After two years, Jimmy Messina and I just picked up the pieces and ran with it” to create Poco. Here, Furay skips into the Poco country two-step, “Pickin’ Up the Pieces,” where the Firefall musicians accompany Furay, Lynch, and Skarda as they harmonize on the tune’s upbeat “Well there’s just a little bit of magic/In the country music we’re singin’” lyric.

“Thank you, folks, for being here!” exclaims Furay as he concludes his set with the Poco fan favorite, “A Good Feelin’ to Know,” where all of the Furay and Firefall musicians have fun playing off one another.

Richie Furay, Firefall, and Pure Prairie League in Legends of Country Rock LIVE! at MPAC

The audience sings along on the tune’s “It’s a good feelin’ to know/Somebody loves you” refrain before rewarding Furay and Co. with an energetic standing ovation.

As the crowd cheers, Firefall founding member Josh Bartley exclaims, “Mr. Richie Furay!” After the announcement, “Ladies and gentlemen, from Boulder, Colorado, it’s Firefall!” is made, his band — guitarist Steven Weinmeister, bassist John Bisaha, keyboardist/wind player Jim Waddell, and drummer Sandy Ficca, along with Bartley on guitar — opens its set with “Livin’ Ain’t Livin’.”

Richie Furay, Firefall, and Pure Prairie League in Legends of Country Rock LIVE! at MPAC

Lights flash as Weinmeister sings, “Livin’ is easy with someone who cares/Someone to call you their own,” on this appealing country rocker.

The crowd hoots and hollers, and Bartley exclaims, “Good evening! Here’s one you might remember from 1977!” Music lovers cheer when they hear the intro to the group’s Top 20 hit, “Just Remember I Love You.” Audience members joyfully join in singing on the tune’s memorable “Well, just remember I love you/And it’ll be all right” chorus which features long time Firefall guitarist Weinmeister and founding member Bartley harmonizing together.

Richie Furay, Firefall, and Pure Prairie League in Legends of Country Rock LIVE! at MPAC

After stating, “It’s so nice to be here in Morristown,” Bartley declares, “There will never be another time like the ’70s for music!” Here, he and Firefall perform “It Doesn’t Matter,” a Crosby, Stills and Nash-like soft rock tune which has concertgoers moving to the groove at their seats.

The crowd cheers and applauds, and Bartley announces, “We’d like to feature our bass player, John Bisaha, on a song from 1977.” Accompanied by his colleagues on acoustic and electric guitars, keyboard, and drums, Bisaha’s voice cries out on the straight-ahead rocker, “So Long,” before Bartley plays a nimble electric guitar solo.

Bartley talks about the origins of Firefall prior to introducing one of the group’s earliest recording efforts, “Cinderella,” an upbeat country rocker which features keyboardist Jim Waddell on both flute and harmonica, three-part vocal harmonies, and slide guitar.

The band follows up with a slowed down and funky interpretation of The Doobie Brothers’ “Long Train Running” from Firefall’s upcoming album of cover songs, Friends and Family. Next up is the moody “Goodbye, I Love You, which has Weinmeister and Bisaha trading off on lead vocals along with dueling guitars, a wailing sax, and a fast and high Bartley electric guitar solo.

Dedicating their biggest hit to “all the ladies in the audience and in New Jersey, in general,” the musicians of Firefall perform their 1976 smash, “You Are the Woman.”

Richie Furay, Firefall, and Pure Prairie League in Legends of Country Rock LIVE! at MPAC

Waddell plays flute and Bartley solos on guitar before the lights come up and concertgoers happily sing out with gusto on the song’s “You are the woman that I’ve always dreamed of/I knew it from the start” lyric and the number ends with lively cheers and applause.

The Firefall musicians introduce one another before segueing into “Strange Way,” a rock ballad which switches to a disco beat. Music lovers clap along as Waddell impresses on flute and the band percussively jams on their instruments.

Bartley takes a moment to acknowledge Pure Prairie League and Richie Furay before he and Firefall perform their final number, “Mexico,” which has music lovers dancing at their seats under flashing lights. Playing high and fast, Weinmeister, Bartley, and Bisaha wail together downstage on this upbeat Latin-influenced rocker.

Richie Furay, Firefall, and Pure Prairie League in Legends of Country Rock LIVE! at MPAC

The number builds to an exciting conclusion and audience members are on their feet cheering as Bartley declares, “Adios, you fine people! Thank you all for coming tonight!”

Richie Furay, Firefall, and Pure Prairie League in Legends of Country Rock LIVE! at MPAC

To learn more about Pure Prairie League, please go to pureprairieleague.com. For more info on Richie Furay, click on richiefuray.com. For further information on Firefall, please navigate to firefallofficial.com. For information on future great performances at MPAC — including The Temptations and The Four Tops on December 7, Dionne Warwick on February 16, and The Simon and Garfunkel Story on February 23 — please go to mayoarts.com.

Photos by Love Imagery

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