Richie Furay says there will be no preaching tonight during his concert at The Egg.
But there will be a history lesson — in music.
“I’ll go back all the way as far as Buffalo Springfield and carry it right on through until today,” said Furay, a musical pioneer in both the country rock and Christian rock styles. And now a Bible-believing church pastor.
So that means a little bit of Springfield, a little bit of Poco, maybe a little Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, some Christian compositions. In a career that began during the mid-1960s, Furay has broken his share of ground.
WHEN: 7:30 tonight
WHERE: The Egg, Empire State Plaza, Albany
HOW MUCH: $36
MORE INFO: 473-1845, www.theegg.org
Buffalo Springfield formed in Los Angeles in 1966, with guitarist Stephen Stills, drummer Dewey Martin, bassist Bruce Palmer and guitarist and harmonica player Neil Young all on the team. The guys began with a mix of folk rock and also combined elements of folk and country. Their later work featured more psychedelic and hard rock songs.
On to Poco
By the late 1960s, Furay and Jim Messina had formed Poco, a country rock outfit that would help expand a genre later including groups such as the Eagles and Pure Prairie League. With Poco, Furay composed two of his best-known songs — “Pickin’ Up The Pieces” and “Good Feelin’ To Know.”
He would later begin recording Christian rock, at a time when it wasn’t fashionable for rockers or country rockers to take that path.
“Sometimes it’s difficult, there’s no doubt about it,” Furay said of “pioneer” status in both country rock and Christian music. “You see others reap the rewards of what you’ve done and that is our reward, when we’ve plowed new ground that no one else has attacked or gone after.
“When it all gets down to it, it’s nothing that I really planned on doing,” Furay added in a telephone interview from his home in Colorado. “It was just something the way my career went, even creating or helping to create what became known as the country rock sound. But even in my Christian music, I remember [producer] David Geffen telling me or asking me or saying something to me when I was on Asylum Records and had become a believer. He said, ‘You’re not going to give me any of that Jesus music, are you?’ I mean, that’s sort of the story of my career, pioneering and plowing up the ground and making it a little easier for others to come along, if that sound was going to be appropriate.”
And to answer Mr. Geffen, the name “Jesus” was not mentioned anywhere in the 1976 “I’ve Got a Reason” album. But the pieces reflected Furay’s then-newfound Christian beliefs, and that created a little confusion for fans.
“The Christian community felt it wasn’t Christian enough,” Furay said. “The secular community thought, ‘Good golly, where is this guy going, it’s all about religion now.’ ”
The same thing had sort of happened in Poco. “We were too country for the mass rock and roll world and too rock and roll for country,” Furay said.
Now a pastor
Furay is happy for the balance he’s found in his life. He’s been the pastor of Calvary Chapel in Broomfield, Colorado, since 1982. He and his wife of nearly 50 years, Nancy, have raised four daughters and the couple has 12 grandchildren. Daughter Jesse Furay Lynch is part of the Furay band that will play the Egg.
At 72, Furay has been able to revisit the past. Surviving members of Buffalo Springfield regrouped for seven shows in 2011 — Palmer and Martin have passed away — and there was supposed to be more. But Neil Young decided he had had enough nostalgia, and the planned 30-show tour fizzled.
“It’s been like five years when we got together and it was an incredible experience for all of us when it happened,” Furay said. “We had tried to do it in the ’80s and it was a train wreck, it was awful. But when we got together five years ago to do the few shows we did, it was almost like we had never stopped playing. We had a great time and I was kind of disappointed personally and I think Stephen was as well that we didn’t go on to do the rest of the tour that was actually planned at the time.”
Poco was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame in 2015, and members of the band were on stage for the honor.
“That, too, was a very enjoyable experience,” Furay said. “I was happy my band here in Colorado could step up and be the best for the music we created. We were going to have to bring in a band of some sort, and we were here and everybody knew exactly what the music was, so it came off really well. It was certainly great to have Timothy [Timothy B. Schmit] join us and to have Paul [Paul Cotton]. We were disappointed George [George Grantham] couldn’t be with us. We did it, it was fun and I still maintain a relationship with most of those guys.”
Speaking of fun, Furay especially loves singing his old Poco hit, “Kind Woman,” written for wife Nancy.
“I love singing ‘Kind Woman’ because it takes me back to those days when I saw her at the Whisky a Go Go [Buffalo Springfield was the house band at the famous West Hollywood nightclub for several weeks during the spring of 1966],” Furay said. “It’s just turned out to be wonderful. I’ve been blessed beyond belief, more than anyone could ever imagine.”
Furay hopes country rock fans and Christian rock fans show up tonight. But he’s really just hoping for music fans.
“I just hope it’s a Richie Furay audience,” he said. “People know I’m a believer. I’m not there to proselytize, I’m not there to say ‘Get right or get left,’ I’m here to play music … they’re going to get my whole history.”
Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or at [email protected] or @jeffwilkin1 on Twitter. His blog is at www.dailygazette.com/weblogs/wilkin.