Pure Prairie League joins star-studded Concert Under the Stars in Carson City
Special to the Appeal
From May through November each year, Pure Prairie League hits the road, bringing music to communities big and small.
The Greenhouse Project welcomes them as they play the 11th annual Concert Under the Stars on July 10 at Eagle Valley Golf Course in Carson City, for a hit-driven evening that also includes bands Poco and Firefall.
“Fifty years in, it’s pretty amazing to still be touring,” said Mike Reilly, PPL’s bass guitarist, vocalist and member since 1972. “I never thought we’d still be doing this, playing for Boomers who became the post-Vietnam generation, who through the years have brought their kids to shows and are now bringing their children and grandchildren.”
Reilly contemplates the enormity of having touched so many across three or four generations and stops for a moment.
“It’s a wonder… the people we’re playing for now grew up on us, and of course the energy is different than when we were 20, as are the demands,” he said. “I like the idea that we have been a part of so many memories and family stories; it’s a good legacy.”
The group grew its initial fan base performing on college campuses, which in the 1960s and well into the mid-80s were popular venues — not something experienced today.
Even through the paradigm shift and what Reilly calls “The Great Disco Scare of the 70s,” PPL persevered.
“A lot of this in the beginning had to do with timing, the fact we grew up in the’50s and ’60s, and were playing a lot of different music,” Reilly said.
Musicians of that time, including PPL, took what they had heard growing up and began pushing musical edges, blending styles and creating new sounds that became country rock.
Band songs ranging from “Angel,” “Early Morning Riser” and “Let Me Love You Tonight,” to “Falling In and Out of Love,” and of course “Amie” as well as others, still have the power to move people — and for PPL’s members, are always a delight to perform.
“I am so proud to play with such great musicians,” Reilly said, noting band members are John David Call on pedal steel guitar; Randy Harper, keyboard, rhythm guitar and vocals; Donnie Lee Clark, electric and acoustic guitar and vocals; and Scott Thompson, drums and vocals — bringing more than 140 years combined music experience.
While the band doesn’t rehearse much, they’re always working on “new stuff” and pursuing their individual passions, which for Reilly include relaxing, spending time with his wife, fishing and golfing.
“I’m at that age where I don’t feel bad if I have a boring moment, and new experiences come up,” he said. “I took a job as a maître d’ once — did it on a dare — and it turned into a good gig… another iron in the fire.”
But regardless of diverging paths, they always return to music.
“When we look out at the audience and see heads leaned back, eyes closed, it means we’re doing our job, that we’re taking people back to another moment,” Reilly said. “The older we get, thinking about our lives coming to a close, the more thoughtful and philosophical we become — and the more sure I am that God smiles on drunks, fools and children, which we all are.
“Someone asked Willie (Nelson) when he was going to stop touring, and he said he’d stop when he got tired of it … We’ve been really lucky; we’re living and learning. We’ve got a good thing going and we’re thrilled to be playing … we’re not tired yet.”
The Concert Under the Stars is a major fundraiser for The Greenhouse Project. A limited number of $75 Gold Circle seats remain. Reserved $45 seats and $30 lawn/standing-room only (blankets are encouraged; no chairs) are available at http://www.carsoncitygreenhouse.org.
For information about remaining sponsorship and auction item donation opportunities, call Karen Abowd, TGP president and founder at 775-232-8626.