Kenny Loggins to perform with his new band Blue Sky Riders
July 10, 2013
By David Hayes
When fans of Kenny Loggins attend his concert July 14 at the Snoqualmie Casino, they may be surprised to learn he is also in the opening act.
Renowned for his collaborations in his 40-plus years of performing, Loggins, who was born in Everett, is ready to debut his latest group effort — Blue Sky Riders. The trio includes Nashville songwriters Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman.
Loggins’ career was launched in 1972 with the teaming of Jim Messina, and the duo would go on to sell more than 4.5 million copies of their seven albums. When Loggins and Burr collaborated in 2008 for an album for Target featuring the song “How About Now,” the two knew they were onto something special.
“The best part was when we sang together, we sounded like brothers,” Loggins said. “The last time I experienced that kind of blend was with Jimmy Messina in 1971.”
Burr is an award-winning songwriter in the Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame, who has written 13 No. 1 hits, penning songs for the likes of Tim McGraw, Reba McEntire, LeAnn Rimes, Ricky Martin and Christina Aguilera, and Kelly Clarkson, and has even played and written with Ringo Starr and Carole King.
When Loggins and Burr decided a band was in order for their efforts, they decided a woman’s voice was needed to round out the harmonies they were looking for. The short list they considered, Loggins said, really only contained one name — Middleman. Her résumé includes penning songs for artists including Keith Urban, Faith Hill, Kenny Chesney and McEntire.
She said when the trio sang together for the first time, they knew from the start that they were on the right track.
“It felt right. It felt like a band,” she said.
They went to work, crafting 15 songs dipping into the pop, rock and country genres, featuring three-part harmonies and each taking a turn singing lead. What resulted was the album “Finally Home.”
Loggins said the album doesn’t really have a target audience, especially since he feels that’s a record company phrase any way.
“We’re making our own music. What we’re writing is what’s working for us. So, you might say we’re our target audience,” Loggins said. “We just make it accessible, and hope someone else reacts to it the way we do and comes along for the ride.”
Now that Burr and Middleman have gotten a taste of stepping out of the shadows of writing songs for others and have felt the spotlight on themselves onstage, they plan to keep a good thing going. Burr said Blue Sky Riders is not a one-off thing for Loggins’ current tour.
“We’re a real band,” he said. “We’re already collaborating on songs for our next album and are planning a Christmas album. We see a long future.”
Middleman said the process has been really, really fun.
“Usually, writing music has so much business to do, that this allows us to do what we do best,” she said.
Fans of Loggins will still get to hear his greatest hits when he hits the stage solo, from his days with Messina, including “Your Momma Don’t Dance,” “Danny’s Song” and “My Music” to his solo efforts featuring “This is It” and “What a Fool Believes” to his iconic soundtrack songs like “Footloose,” “Danger Zone” and “I’m Alright.”
With a decadeslong catalog of music to his credit, Loggins said he felt he’d gotten lazy in recent years. His most recent project with Blue Sky Riders has relit a fire inside.
“I love the collaboration process,” he said. “When it works you end up taking things in directions not expected.”
For example, Loggins explained, each of the trio would have little bits and pieces of a song living with them for years, fishing for an idea.
“But working with others, you can take this good start, ask where they’d go with it and be completely surprised where it ends up,” he said.
He added in the midst of his own set, he will bring out Middleman to help him with Stevie Nicks’ part on “Whenever I Call You Friend” and all three will reunite at the end to cover “Conviction of the Heart.”
“And then the crowd goes wild,” Burr predicted.
Learn more about the band at www.blueskyridersband.com.
If you go
Kenny Loggins with Blue Sky Riders
7 p.m. July 14
Mount View Plaza
Tickets are $35-$68 and available at the casino ticket office or online at http://bit.ly/13zcZht.
David Hayes: 392-6434, ext. 237, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.snovalleystar.com.