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Poco and Jim Messina will bring 50 years of music to F.M. Kirby Center

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Poco and Jim Messina will bring 50 years of music to F.M. Kirby Center

Photo by Madison Kaminski

Photo by Madison Kaminski

Photo by Madison Kaminski

Photo by Madison Kaminski

Jacqueline Kurovsky, Staff Writer

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Country rock fans will be in for a treat as west coast band Poco reunites with co-founder Jim Messina on Feb. 22 at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre.

Poco, a formidable pillar of their genre, formed in 1968 led by Rusty Young, Jim Messina and Richie Furay. Success was not an unfamiliar taste – Furay and Messina had just come from the disbanded supergroup Buffalo Springfield, whose final album also featured Young on guitar.

Poco’s debut 1969 album, “Pickin’ Up the Pieces,” is considered a pioneering album of the country rock genre. It paved the way for the newly-emerging Southern California sound that would be the driving force of the genre.

This sound took shape in the famous West Hollywood club Troubadour, responsible for the launch of countless careers – Poco’s included.

Poco’s Troubadour shows were often attended by now-legendary musicians including Don Henley and George Harrison.

“We were combining country instruments with rock and roll songs and people were interested,” Poco frontman Rusty Young, now 70, said.

The band’s lineup shuffled around through the decades, with Randy Meisner and Timothy Schmit both leaving to join the now-legendary group The Eagles.

“We knew how talented everybody was,” Young said. “When people left, we knew they were going to be successful.”

Through the changes in the band’s lineup, Young remained at the helm of Poco’s ship. He wrote and sang what would become the group’s first number one hit, 1979’s “Crazy Love.”

In the years to follow, Young and bandmate Paul Cotton were the driving force of several big hits for the band including “Heart of the Night” and “The Last Goodbye.” Young still leads as the frontman of Poco, now a foursome of musicians.

The treat for Kirby Center audiences will be Poco’s reuniting with founding member Jim Messina. After leaving Buffalo Springfield, Messina was with Poco for two years and was a main contributor to the first two albums. He went on to pursue a career as a record producer, signing with Columbia Records.

Messina’s career led him to become the producer for Kenny Loggins in the early 1970s. Loggins at the time had no manager and was taken under Messina’s wing.

Messina’s contributions to Loggins’ work led to an unexpected sort of success.

Initially planning to stay out of the spotlight, Messina produced The Kenny Loggins Band. He soon found himself back to performing and touring as part of the soft rock duo Loggins and Messina, going on to sell over 20 million albums. Among their hits are classics such as “Danny’s Song” and “House at Pooh Corner.”

The duo split and pursued solo careers in 1976. Messina took a new musical direction, with his albums leaning towards latin jazz with a rock and roll edge. He went on to release a succession of solo work beginning with 1979’s Oasis.

In 1989, Poco’s original lineup including Messina took to the road for a successful reunion tour. That same year, the group would release Legacy, their second release to be certified gold. Messina wrote and sang three of the songs and co-wrote “Call It Love” with Rusty Young on vocals.

[The album] was our chance to go back in history and we had a great time,” Young said.

Messina had a second reunion tour, this time with former musical partner Kenny Loggins in 2005. Out of this tour came the live DVD and CD collection “Sittin’ In Again at the Santa Barbara Bowl.” The pair once again reunited for a tour in 2009.

Messina continues to work in music production and publishing and is creator of “The Songwriter’s Performance Workshop,” an intensive six day workshop for singers and songwriters.

Rusty Young announced his retirement in 2013 but is since back on the road. The last member of Poco to release a solo record, he debuted “Waitin’ on the Sun” in 2017.

Young’s fellow members of Poco are now Jack Sundrud, Michael Webb and Rick Lonow. All are featured on “Waitin’ on the Sun” which does not stray from the original Poco sound.

“It’s hard to divorce me from Poco,” Young said. “You can’t get away from it.”

Young promises a mix of music in his show with Messina, selecting from their catalog of nearly 50 years of music.

“You’ll hear all the classics,” he said. “We’re going to cover a lot of territory and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Poco and Messina take the stage at 7:30 p.m. with doors opening at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are available at the F.M. Kirby Center Box Office or online at www.kirbycenter.org.

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Poco and Jim Messina will bring 50 years of music to F.M. Kirby Center