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POCO and Firefall Pair Up In Peekskill

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Pioneer country rock bands Poco and Firefall performed at The Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill, New York on Saturday, October 14, 2006. Check both band's websites for future double bill dates.

Poco and Firefall in Concert!
Rusty Young & Paul Cotton have been POCO's colorfully binding fabric for over 25 years!

Poco galloped into the scene in the late 60's. Poco along with other musicians pioneered what would become known as country rock. Poco's sound blended Bakersfield country with American rock. This new style would become their signature sound, which has endured through the decades despite various personnel alterations and changes in mainstream music. Poco has released over twenty albums with some hits including a gold record in 1978 for "Legend". Poco has sustained their fan base (known as Poconuts) with their impressive back catalogue, first rate musicianship, new songs and touring.

Firefall were also pioneers of the country rock movement. Firefall carried on the traditions crafted by the Byrds and others. Firefall was in the heart of both music scenes in and around California and Colorado, interacting with other like minded individuals. Their sound included hard hitting rock guitars peppered with country and pop flavorings. Firefall also focused on harmonies and melodies to compliment their fiery musical interludes. Like many bands, Firefall has had its ups and downs with some core members burning out as others in the group kept the spark alive with recording and touring.

In recent years, both Poco and Firefall have been gigging more frequently, delighting fans with their classic, signature sounds. The pairing of these two bands is exciting. Their musical styles complement each other and their fan bases should appreciate the history and uniqueness that each group can bring to double bill shows.

Poco and Firefall in Concert!
POCO's secret weapon is the powerful singing and song writing of Jack Sundrud.

The Paramount Center for the Arts is in the heart of the Hudson Valley. The venue opened in 1930 and is still a foundation for education and entertainment in the town. The venue has been through extensive restorations maintaining its old charm with modern amenities. The detailed paint job was very impressive and reflective of a bygone era.

Firefall performed as an acoustic trio on Saturday night. Two of the three singers were playing guitar as the third kept rhythm on the bass and added harmonica as needed. Firefall played an up-beat set of country music spiked with extended rock jams. The acoustics were spirited and the bass solid with all three voices adding and blending to the diversity of their songs.

Firefall was able to achieve a heavy sound in an acoustic format, granted, at times one of the acoustic guitars had been replaced by an electric. The bassist used a number of interesting techniques such as plucking far up on the neck to attain different grooves and the guitars frequently built up momentum as they explored a range of riffs through the first few songs of their set. Original Firefall member Jock Bartley was center stage for the performance serving competently in his dual roles of frontman and lead guitar player.

Poco and Firefall in Concert!
Firefall founder Jock Bartley led his reformed band through a strong 45 minute set.

"You all have heard this next one... anyone who has been in an elevator... ladies this is for you," remarked Steven Weinmeister before kicking off the recognizable 'You Are The Woman'. Everyone was happy to sing and clap along as Firefall added some additional instrumentation to the radio hit. 'Strange Way' started off with some slow, chunky chords emanating from the base before the guitars and voices meandered their way in. The song featured vocal blends throughout with some high notes than a jam of thick bass lines with taps and dueling guitar leads.

'Mexico' was spicy with its hot guitar licks, flavorful bass and simmering vocals. Towards the end of the jam, there was a showdown between the guitars with the electric taking the upper hand. Firefall finished the song thanked people for coming and left the stage. Unfortunately they did not play an encore.

Poco took the stage with Rusty Young starting off on mandolin leading the band through a fast flowing version of 'Under The Gun'. Young switched to a guitar and said it was great to be here and said that they just flew in from Mexico. Later in the evening Rusty mentioned that Poco had been traveling a lot that week and joked that his voice was somewhere else. Tiredness and technical difficulties perhaps accounted for the fact that Saturday show was not one the strongest Poco shows we have ever seen.

None the less the majority of the audience overlooked any flaws and rewarded the band with standing ovations for their set which included a mix of live staples including 'Call It Love', 'Indian Summer', 'Rose of Cimarron', 'Bad Weather' and the popular 'Good Feelin' To Know', which had fans on their feet clapping and singing along. During the night there seemed to be a few technical issues and Jack jested about the military precision of the show. Jack sang lead on 'Shake It' which is a track he penned for the "Running Horse" album and performed live on the "Bareback" CD. The song has a danceable beat and is a good showcase for George Lawrence's drumming. Rusty's mandolin parts added to the groove and Poco took the song down a number of musical tangents before moving into 'Barbados', a nice transition from one mood to the next.

Poco and Firefall in Concert!
Firefall's Steven Weinmeister onstage in Peekskill.

Young provided a few quips about The Eagles, saying that Jack keeps his cell phone with him just in case Don Henley might be calling. They then surprised all by digging deep into their extensive catalogue to cover ex-POCO and current Eagle's bass player Schmit's 'Find Out In Time'.

Another rarity was a song from Paul Cotton's solo record 'Do What You Do', which featured some fine guitar work. Ironically, Rusty stopped singing during 'Keep On Trying' as he was battling hoarseness but redeemed the moment with 'Crazy Love' - another fan favorite that people sang along too.

The other members of the band left the stage for Jack to pick up his acoustic guitar and perform the poignant 'Hard Country' and midway through the song Rusty came out strumming the mandolin adding to the seriousness of the story about growing up on a Minnesota farm. Poco played a few more songs in their regular set and performed Buffalo Springfield's "On The Way Home' for the encore - sending everyone on the way.

The musical frontier can be tough at times. Firefall shined and Poco delivered the staples despite tiredness and technical issues. Saturday's show was a good paring showcasing the past and present of two of country rocks finest bands.

Poco and Firefall in Concert!
POCOnuts gathered in Peekskill to root on their favorite band!

Related Links: For more information on POCO and Firefall and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- POCOnut.com | Firefall.com | ParamountCenter.org




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