Rusty Young (of Poco) at Fairfield Community Arts Center March 12

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Rusty Young
Rusty Young

Rusty Young (of Poco)
Fairfield Community Arts Center ~ Fairfield, OH
March 12
8pm, $25/$30, all ages
www.poconut.org

Rusty Young first picked up a guitar in 1952 at age six, and he hasn’t put it down since. In the beginning he performed in churches, retirement homes and school assemblies. At age twelve, Rusty joined his first band and began playing small clubs and honky-tonks around his hometown of Denver, Colorado. In the 1960’s he joined his first rock band The Boenzee Cryque. The band was a Colorado favorite and not long after Rusty joined, they had a #1 hit, “Still In Love With You Baby” on Denver’s most popular radio station, KIMN.

In 1967, after being recommended by an old schoolmate, Rusty received a call from Richie Furay asking him to come to Los Angeles and play steel guitar on a song for the upcoming Buffalo Springfield album, Last Time Around, and Rusty jumped at the opportunity. Once in the studio, he met Furay as well as Jimmy Messina, and there was an immediate connection between them that ultimately has lasted over four decades. The three shared a musical vision, and a new genre reviewers were calling “country-rock”- a blend of rock lyrics and melody combined with country and bluegrass instrumentation. It was a vision that would be shared by bands like The Eagles, Firefall, Pure Prairie League, The Flying Burrito Brothers and The Byrds.  Together with George Grantham on drums and Randy Meisner on bass, Poco’s original lineup was formed. Their shows became a regular event at the influential Troubadour club. Poco was even called “The next big thing” by Los Angeles Times music critic Robert Hilburn. In 1969, Poco signed with Epic Records and released their first album, Pickin’ Up The Pieces.

Like many bands, there were changes to Poco’s lineup over the years. Randy Meisner left to become a founding member of The Eagles, Jim Messina parted ways to Sit In with Kenny Loggins (and was replaced by Paul Cotton), Richie Furay teamed up with J. D. Souther and Chris Hillman to form the Souther Hillman Furay Band, and Timothy B. Schmit –who had replaced Meisner in Poco—also eventually left for the Eagles. “We were young and so much was being thrown at us, that it was hard to keep the band together,” Rusty explains.  “But we never thought about giving up. When someone left the band we saw it as a chance for one of us to step up and contribute more.” And that’s exactly what happened.

With Young as the only remaining original member, in 1979 Poco had its first Billboard Magazine hit with Rusty’s song, “Crazy Love.”  It went to #1 and became Billboard’s “Song of the Year.”  Legend, the album that included “Crazy Love,” became Poco’s first Gold record and then ultimately first Platinum selling album. In 1980 Poco received their first Grammy nomination for Rusty’s banjo instrumental, “Feudin’.” The same year, EmmyLou Harris was nominated for a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal with the Rusty Young song, “Rose of Cimarron.” Before the year ended, Rusty also had his song ”I’ll Leave It up To You” placed in the soundtrack to the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High. All through the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, Poco continued to tour and record. Then in 1989, the original Poco lineup reunited and recorded the Legacy album. Along with bringing the original band back together, Legacy went Gold, and Poco had a top 20 hit with the single, “Call It Love.”  The band toured the world through 1990 and then went on hiatus while Rusty recorded two albums with his friends Pat Simmons, (Doobie Bros.), Bill Lloyd, (Foster and Lloyd), and John Cowan (New Grass Revival). Poco returned to touring and recording in 1994 with guitarist Paul Cotton rejoining the band, and continued to tour for almost twenty more years.

As a session musician, Rusty has recorded with everyone from Three Dog Night to Gladys Knight, and from Joe Walsh to Loggins and Messina. He’s been inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame, and Guitar Player Magazine’s “Gallery of Greats” alongside Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. Today, Rusty, along with Poco member Jack Sundrud, scores the soundtrack for Scholastic children’s DVD’s, and is busy writing songs and working on his autobiography as well as performing select solo concerts. In his live shows, Rusty showcases classic Poco songs and the musicianship that has brought him so many awards throughout his career. “It’s been a great run,” he said.  “I’ve met some amazing people, have been to some amazing places, and have made some amazing friends. I have a feeling I won’t be slowing down any time soon!”