March 3, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — If you listened to Pure Prairie League in the ’70s or ’80s, the band is in Utah this week intending to spark some of your happy memories.
“The thing is, the demographic of our shows, it’s kind of indicative of the kind of people who grew up at the same time that we did,” said leader Mike Reilly.
“To use a kind of overused, trite phrase, it became part of the soundtrack of people’s lives. So they remember their college days and they remember their first date together and they remember their first concert together when they came to see Pure Prairie League, and it’s those people who are coming back, year after year.”
And their offspring.
“The younger kids that comes to these shows, they go, ‘My dad made me listen to your music all the time I was growing up, and I like it,’ so now we are once again validated.”
Pure Prairie opened Thursday night at the Egyptian Theatre, in Park City, and will play additional shows at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For ticket information and availability, click here.
The country-rock band is known for its close harmonies, as demonstrated by songs including the band’s 1974 breakthrough hit, “Amie.”
“We do the ones that people always want to hear,” Reilly said, “like ‘Two Lane Highway,’ ‘Let Me Love You Tonight,’ ‘I’ll Fix Your Flat Tire, Merle.’ We’ve resurrected a bunch of the old songs, that we haven’t done to the early or mid ’70s, and those songs are just such a gas to sing, like ‘Woman,’ ‘Angel,’ things like that, ‘Jazzman,’ We get our yayas on a lot of different tunes we play. We do the ones that people always want to hear, ‘Two Lane Highway,’ ‘Let Me Love You.'”
Reilly remembers the early days when the Ohio band was playing local gigs and trying to get noticed.
“We had basically just been doing club gigs and bar gigs around Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio, and then we had kind of a festival deal up on Lake Erie in Cleveland, and RCA had flown in from New York to see us. They wound up signing us the next week.”
Things changed fast.
“We were all surprised about things,” Reilly said. “The first thing that happened, we had to fly to New York and record an album in New York City, the Mecca of country music, then we went out on tour with Badfinger. We played Carnegie Hall the first year. You know, crazy stuff like that. So it was a whole different dynamic from southern Ohio and northern Kentucky.”
Reilly recalls that it took him a while to splurge on his first “luxury” item.
“I think the first major purchase, which took 10 years, was me and the piano player bought a house together near where we lived in Northern Kentucky. It was right near a golf course.”
The group recorded 11 albums before disbanding in 1988. The music stopped for more than a decade.
“We got together in ’99, we decided to try it out for — I think the correct term is ‘shits and giggles,'” Reilly said, laughing.
“We just did a dozen gigs and thought wow, this is good, it sounds great, it sounds fresh, we’re having fun, that was ’99 and this is 2017. It kind of speaks for itself, and it’s all because of the fans.”