Country rock act Pure Prairie League still going strong

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Mike Reilly is celebrating 50 years with country rock band Pure Prairie League. Much to his chagrin, health issues are keeping the Kentucky native home during the group’s current tour, which includes a stop at BMI Speedway in Versailles on Saturday, April 9.

Pure Prairie League formed in Ohio in 1970 and quickly went from regional band to international success. The country rock group has released 10 studio albums, each one adorned with cover art with its Norman Rockwell-created cowboy mascot.

Best known for the indelible ‘70s hit “Amie,” Pure Prairie League has amassed a library of other singles and deep album cuts that still resonate with fans. Like all acts from the band’s heyday, there have been ups and downs, hiatuses and multiple lineup changes, but the music created by this enduring crew remains in demand.

The current touring lineup is longtime members John David Call (pedal steel guitar) and Scott Thompson (drums, vocals) with newer member Randy Harper (keyboards, vocals) and recent additions Jared Camic (bass, vocals) and Jeff Zona (guitar, vocals).

Reilly recently answered some questions from his home in Sag Harbor, N.Y.

Q: How are you feeling?

A: Oh, I’m fine but I can’t travel. I’m kind of laid up at home for a little while but the band is out there and keeping it happening. The two new guys, Jared and Jeff, are killers. They do the music proud. As long as it feels like, looks like, sounds like and smells like Pure Prairie League, then it is a duck. It walks and talks and quacks. (laughs)

Q: Have you been able to perform at all?

A: I did the Rock Legends Cruise in February, but I played guitar instead of bass. That was fun. It adds that extra guitar player to the music, which was great, and the singing was just dynamite with five guys singing. If we get a gig that’s booked on Memorial Day, I’ll definitely be there because that will make 50 years to the weekend since my first Pure Prairie League gig. I still run the band. I own it, I manage it and I produce it, so I’ll be able to jump in on a couple of gigs here and there.

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Q: To what do you attribute this group’s staying power?

A: Well, it’s the music and the fanbase. The music still holds up really well. It sounds great on stage, but we couldn’t do it without the people that have been fans for 50 years. A lot of these fans are the same age group as we are. They grew up in the ‘50, ‘60s and ‘70s but they’re still coming out to shows. They’re very active and real supportive. It’s very gratifying to us that people will still come out and pay their hard-earned money and spend their valuable time to hear these tunes, so we give them their money’s worth. We definitely deliver. We don’t want to let anybody down.

Q: What’s next for PPL?

A: We’re taping every show and I’m going to spend the summer putting together a live album. It’s about time because these guys really are hitting on all eight cylinders. They’re doing the music proud, which is the main thing. I’m really stoked. We already have several gigs booked in 2023 so we’re going to keep going. I mean, why not? If the demand is there, we’ll fill that demand and do a damn good job of it.

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or e-mail at donthrasher100@gmail.com.

HOW TO GO

Who: Pure Prairie League with Atlanta Rhythm Section

Where: BMI Speedway, 791 E. Main St., Versailles

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, April 9

Cost: $30-$40

More info: 937-526-9547 or www.bmikarts.com

Artist info: pureprairieleague.com

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