Friday, December 20, 2013

Poco announces Retirement - My memories of this amazing Music group!

After 46 years of country rocking, Rusty Young, final remaining founding member of 1960s California Country Rock- pioneering super-group, Poco, has announced his plans to retire from the music business and put a formal end to the entity known as Poco.

Poco was conceptualized upon the demise of short-lived but highly-influential Folk Rock group, the Buffalo Springfield. With Neil Young and Stephen Stills branching off to work with David Crosby and Graham Nash, to form the very successful CSNY partnership, this left Richie Furay and Jimmy Messina pondering what to do, so they aligned with Springfield friend, and steel guitar guru, Rusty Young, to put together what would go on to becoming the most important innovator of the California Country Rock sound, which would eventually be popularized by the Eagles.

While many members of Poco would leave and move on to find a greater level of commercial success in new ventures (Jim with Loggins and Messina), (Richie with Souther, Hillman, and Furay), and Tim and Randy who would both quit Poco to join the Eagles, Rusty has remained the cornerstone that has held the Poco brand together through all these years.  Rusty's hard work would eventually be rewarded in 1978, when studio album Legend, charter two top 20 hits.

After a brief break in 1987-88, Rusty brought back the original 5 founding members for a reunion venture in 1989, which spawned the new album Legacy, which also contained some commercially-successful hits. While the reunion was short-lived, it rejuvenated the Poco brand name to the point that Rusty was able to take it in new directions.  Retaining original drummer George Grantham, and bringing back long-time lead guitar player Paul Cotton, and hiring Nashville song-writer Jack Sundrud, Poco reinvented itself, once again, as a grass-roots country rock movement that would go on to continue to make new music and tour small clubs all over the world for many more years.

As a kid who grew up in the 80s, I was not exposed to 60s country rock until much later in life, when the Eagles put together a reunion tour of their own in 1994, which lead to significant exposure on mainstream tv and radio.  While it was the Eagles who grabbed my initial attention and interest in this genre of music, it wasn't until I traced the Eagles roots backwards to Poco, did I discover my true love of this type of music.  In 2004, Rusty put together a special show that would be recorded live for a future DVD release. Original member Richie flew in from his home in Colorado for his first full concert with Poco in 15 years.

It was May 20, 2004, that this new Canadian Poco fan hit the road and drove down to Nashville, to see this band play live for the first time, and the rest, as they say, is history.  I would quickly fall in love with this bands music and live shows to the point that I spent the next three years travelling all over the USA to see them play live.. 29 shows in a span of 36 months, on road trips that would take me everywhere from California, to Ohio, to New York, to Missouri, to Tennessee, to New Jersey.

(Me with Poco, June 2004, The Tralf, Buffalo, NY)

It was during this time that I became familiar with the many 'Poconuts' who were fans of the band with just as much eagerness and enthusiasm as I had. I would go on to develop many great friendships with Poconuts all over the country. Poco concerns became much more than music events, but family events, where Poconuts would come from afar to gather and unite to socialize and enjoy the music.

Unlike many traveling music groups, Poco took a keen interest in getting to know their fans, and engaged directly with them. It didn't take very long for Poco to warm up to me. After seeing me in the front row of three consecutive concerts, which took place in three places far apart, (Nashville, Maryland, and Buffalo), did Rusty dub me the nickname of 'The Stalker, a tongue and cheek jab at me that would stick and last for the duration of my time as a Poco concert attendee regular.

In May 2007, I saw Poco for my 29th and final time, as I move away from central mainland Canada, to the island of Newfoundland, way off the Northeast coast of Canada - placing me 1000s of miles away from Poco concerts. My life has gone through some major changes since then - including perhaps the biggest change anyone can possibly make, a sex and gender change from male to female.  I have also matured from a quiet, shy person, to a comfortable public figure, who is best-known for social activism, my political run as Deputy Mayor candidate in my new home town, as well as my innovation as the first formally-sanctioned transgender athlete - who took up long distance running and literally ran my way into the Boston Marathon record books.

With Poco's farewell shows being booked in 2014, it will be my plan to make one final road trip, to say good bye and see this awesome live music act, one more time!

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