Since the quarantine began, we’ve been going online every Wednesday night to share music and stories. Please come join us!

This next show will be the night before Thanksgiving at 8:30 p.m. CT Wednesday night, Nov. 25, 2020. It says 6:30 p.m. on the link but that’s Pacific time 😉

For tickets, please click HERE

Please join Gary and Georgia this coming Sunday, Nov. 29th at 2:00 p.m. CT as they share stories and songs on their Middleman Burr Facebook Page HERE. They will be playing songs requested by you during the week…to make a request, please email us at: middlemanburr@gmail.com

Admission is FREE but if you feel inclined to tip:

Paypal: http://www.paypal.me/middlemanburr and Venmo: @Middlemanburr

See you there!

Do you have a favorite song that you’ve heard Gary or Georgia play at one of their shows? Would you like to own a handwritten copy of those lyrics and hang them on your wall? Georgia or Gary (depending on who wrote it) would be happy to write it out for you; sign it and send it your way. For price and payment information, please send them an email at middlemanburr@gmail.com

Music has a magical way of taking us back to a time or moment that was life-changing in our world. When you hear a certain song, you can remember where you were when you first heard it…whom you were with at the time…whom you lost…what you were doing…what you were feeling. It’s a shortcut to a memory that few other mechanisms can bring back to life so quickly.

Have you ever thought of having a one-of-a-kind touchstone for a very special event in your life? A song written specifically for a wedding… birthday… graduation… funeral… celebration?

Maybe you have a company that is looking to put its mission statement to words and music…your own company song that can be played at annual events to really zero in on your message and what your business stands for?

If a custom song sounds like something you might want, this is your chance to have two award-winning songwriters create that song and deliver it to you with a professional recording sung by either Gary or Georgia.

For more information, please email us at: middlemanburr@gmail.com to schedule your FREE CONSULTATION.

 

On Oct. 25th, the “SongwritingWith:Soldiers” one hour special aired on PBS. If you missed it, don’t worry: you can check it out HERE. You’ll hear the stories behind the songs written by soldiers and award-winning, chart-topping songwriters including Bonnie Bishop, Gary Burr, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Jay Clementi, Radney Foster, Mary Gauthier, James House, Will Kimbrough, Gary Nicholson, Maia Sharp, Darden Smith, and Georgia Middleman

 

Voting was Tuesday. It’s only Thursday but the wait to see who our next president is almost unbearable! So instead of sitting in front of the TV all day and holding our breath, we wrote a little song about it to make us feel better. Hopefully, it will make you feel better too!

It’s funny what will bring back memories and inspire a blog. 

Right now I have to stop my recording because our lawn service is outside mowing. It is getting to be the end of the season and they try to get in as many mows before the first frost to allow them to stay open until Spring. They are mowing once every two days.

What memory does this encourage to pop into my head?

My Dad wanted to kill me.

If he didn’t actually want to kill me, he was certainly fine with the possibility that he would come home from work one night and there would be an extra chicken leg on his plate and one less chair at the table.

My father made me mow the lawn. I’m not sure if my older brothers had the job before me. If they did, they did not pass on any tips or tricks about how to do it. I was thrown into the job with no training other than “This is the rope. Pull it.”
Our lawn was a lawnmower’s deathtrap.

It had a top field area. That was where we played football or threw the Frisbee. Not too big. It took about a half hour to do this section. There were two enormous willow trees up there and about six other trees plus a pole vaulting pit my father built for me to practice. (I pole vaulted in high school. Impressed? Don’t be.) Then there was a long hill that led up to the field. The angle wasn’t too crazy. I had to lean a little to keep the mower on all four wheels, that’s all. Keep in mind…the chronology was this: I was originally doing this with a PUSH mower. No power except what came from my scrawny little twig arms. So…no power. I eventually graduated to a self propelled mower but that only added to the thrill…danger….idiocy. If a push mower rolled over and somersaulted down a hill…no one died. If a self propelled one went over….someone was losing a limb. And by someone I mean….

Then there was the area around the house. Lots of gardens. That ordinarily would be a complicated maneuver but…we were Burrs. That means we can’t grow things. The gardens were more inspirational than practical. Nothing was actually alive in any of them. I was entrusted with my own garden when I was young and decided to grow gourds. I felt a kinship with gourds. Pretty on the outside…hollow on the outside and served no discernable purpose. 

That brings us to the death trap. The front yard. A very steep angle down to the street. This took strategy.

If I tried to push the mower UP the hill it would take me about fifty rows. AND I ran the risk of my sneakers slipping out from under me and a self powered mower flipping down over my back. Let’s cal that the back up plan. Or…

I could stand at the top of the hill and lower the mower fifty times. Unfortunately the mower weighed substantially more than I did (hard to believe, right?) and it would either slip out of my sweaty hands and run off across the street and into the neighbor’s yard, killing their duck, or it would drag me after it as it crossed the street and went into the neighbor’s yard. Neither option felt right. This option did allow me to keep all my limbs so that was a plus.

Last option would be laterally.

(This was my next to last option actually. The last option would be to run into the house crying that I had been stung by one of the million bees that swarmed under our pear tree.)

Laterally meant I would have to mow on an angle much steeper than the back hill but it had the advantage of only having about ten rows. That was usually my choice. I tried the other ways once in a while just to see if the older I got, the easier they would be. It had nothing to do with age. It was all geometry and bees.

I’m sure my Dad thought it was a life lesson. I certainly look at the little, level lawn that I have now and wonder why the hell I have a “lawn service.”

I don’t drink. No one in my immediate family ever did. We don’t have any great moral problem with it. We just don’t like the taste of it. 

No matter what alcohol you give me…fine Irish Whiskey…Guinness…expensive wine…it all tastes like Binaca to me.

And I have the kind of sensitivity that makes bloodhounds resent me. You could put three drops of alcohol in a gallon of Coke and I can taste it. That’s some mighty Binaca, my friend.

All through high school and college my best friends kept trying to find something I would find drinkable so I could get drunk with them. Oh sure, Dean and Billy could have been out helping the homeless or raking some widow’s front yard…but they had a more pressing project. They had to get Gary drunk.

Whenever I would go to a party or gathering with either of them, I made sure to scout out the lay of the land. I was looking for a corner with some sort of plant. Living or fake…it didn’t matter. I just needed some place to pour out my drink without them noticing. It is a proven fact that if you don’t ingest the alcohol but you instead pour it into a plant…you stay sober, the plant dies and the homeowner gets confused.
ONE TIME it worked. We were juniors and we heard that the senior class was having their big end of year blowout at a restaurant that was literally walking distance from my house.

The room had corners but no potted plants. The drink of choice this evening was rum and coke. They always say that a drink tastes better the longer you drink it. That is not the case for me. The first sip is “Hmm…I might be able to drink this.” The second sip is “whew…I’m not sure about this.” By the third sip it tastes like fermented roadkill.
But I must have gotten distracted. I was a junior and I still hadn’t talked to a girl yet so it couldn’t have been that. I don’t remember how it happened…but I got drunk. I probably drank half a rum and coke. 

The party is a blur but I remember I ended up sitting on a railroad tie out in the parking lot, watching the world spin like a Four Tops record.

I wasn’t sure what you were supposed to do when you are drunk. I had observed the talking too loud and close part. Also the “Hey! Let’s..(inset death inducing activity here)” part. Ditto the throwing up part.

I really didn’t feel like any of those things. I just felt dizzy and confused and I wasn’t sure where my friends were.

I remember a man coming over to me. He asked me if I was all right. I looked up and saw that it was a policeman. Don’t panic. What law was I breaking sitting here? I was too young to drink but I didn’t have a drink ON me. Just some portion of a drink IN me.

He asked my name. I told him my name. Suddenly the inner voice who had seen too many Dragnet episodes shouted in my head “Don’t tell him your name! Clam up!” Too late. He knew my name.

“Where do you live, son?”

I gained enough of my senses to tell him I lived on Harrington Street, just a few blocks away. Hah. I didn’t live on Harrington. I lived on Baldwin Street. One street over from Harrington Street. He’ll never see though it.

I vaguely remember him giving me a look that said “You’re a moron and one day you’re probably going to be dating my daughter so I should probably shoot you dead right now and cut thru the red tape.”

Instead he grunted and walked away.

I staggered to my feet and began walking in a direction that I hoped was home.
I remember falling asleep under a bush about three houses away from home. I woke up around two in the morning and gathered enough of my senses to get into my own bed. I’m pretty sure that it was my own bed. It had pillows.

I didn’t wake up the next day saying “That was way cool. Can’t wait to do it again!” I don’t think Dean or Billy actually knew that they had achieved their goal. 

That’s pretty much how I am today. I go to parties, find a corner near a plant and try to look cool with a drink in my hand. If someone comes and notices it’s only for show…I pour a little in the plant every few minutes when they’re not looking.

Every one is happy. Except the plant. Morte.

I found this show “playbill” in a box in my attic. March 21, 1977. I was one year away from getting a record deal but I was already working with Harold Kleiner in NYC and things looked promising. My band was breaking up so we all decided to go out with a bang and put on a big show. Not unlike what we still do in the Fall when I return to Meriden, CT and round up the old gang.

I had to go through this with you. What a bizarre trip down memory lane. Okay. Here goes.

Arcadia Ballroom. Loved this place. It felt like our Fillmore East. Great crowds. Great sound. Pretty girls. After this show Johnny P went to work for the Dogs and they always played here so I spent a lot of time standing at the mixing board. And flirting with Mark Mirando. Did I say flirting?

I meant flirting.

Moose on the Loose? Well, I guess you gotta call a show something. I guess I thought the rhyming words were funny. I thought it would be amusing for a bunch of people to have to admit they were going to attend a “Moose on the Loose” concert. We even made up little round tickets, as I recall. Wonder if I have one of those deeper in this box? I would stick my hand in but I fear mice droppings.

One Armed Bandit was the band I was in after I returned from Santa Cruz. It had Kevin and Dean in it from the CA band and… Barbara. Eddy was now on steel guitar. I see we played Country Song. This was the song that I heard on the radio a few years before and it made me fall in love with Pure Prairie League. Dean sang it. That’s cool.

Mexico is a song I wrote. It was one of two songs I recorded in a studio that made Harold Kleiner call me from CBS and start helping me. Not a bad Eagle’s rip off of a song.

Bump Bounce Boogie…well, you didn’t have a hot girl in the band and NOT get her up front. This was a Texas swing song that we undoubtedly mutilated. Babs was great on it.

Time to showcase Paul P.T. Kroll. He was the Dylan of our town. He was the leader and lead singer in the band that I went to Santa Cruz with…but he was now back in CT and “at liberty”. We couldn’t get him to join the band but he was willing to get up and sing a few. I wish I could recall what songs they were.

Martin Beck!! I see we then reformed the Santa Cruz band and played some of the songs that did NOT get us a record deal in California.

Round and Round was one of Paul’s that I loved. I have a cassette of it somewhere but I don’t recall how it goes. I know it had the word “Round” in it. Something in the Air was the Thunderclap Newman song from the radio that PT did in his own, cool way that, for me, beats their version. Then came MY song, Leave Me Blind. This song ended up on the solo record I made the next year. Tommy Sepiol was originally the lead player in the band that went west but as soon as we got there he quit to take up classical guitar. (as lead guitar players are wont to do) I never knew at what point he decided he didn’t want to play rock and roll anymore. Maybe what we played was not his idea of rock and roll. He did manage to become an incredible classical guitarist. Bastard. He rejoined us this night to play a cool guitar part on this song. I still remember setting up the folding chair in the middle of the stage so he could play some solo numbers and I could go to the bathroom.

Mike Showerda came out with an acoustic guitar and sang the JD Souther song Silver Blue. Awesome. I’m sure I was out of the bathroom by then.

Whispering Moose, as I recall, was a semi band we threw together just for this show. Hence the Moose reference. We did a mish mash of songs from various bands we had been in…Grizzly Bear (Dean’s fave and a song I fell in love with when I first heard it on a Youngblood’s album at the WPI library where I used to go and listen to albums I could not afford to purchase.

Kansas City Southern. Lots of PPL songs in this show. Quite the foreshadowing, eh? No wonder they hired me. I knew all their shit.

Smoke Smoke!! The only reason Johnny P would come out from behind the board. He came up and sang this song. Quite the moment of theater. I am looking at a picture of the two of us doing the song as I type this. That’s why there are so menniuy mistjhkikes.

LEO BOOGIE! There’s a name I forgot. I hear he’s still around. A boogie woogie piano player with enough personality to make Dean and Eddy hide in the corner. RC Cola!! How cool that we did an NRBQ song since I became friends with Big Al after I moved down to Nashvegas.

Remember the hot girl singer? Gotta have more of her. She got her own little segment while we backed her up. All these songs put Eddie’s steel guitar to good use. Loved these songs. We were all in love with Babs. I can say that now.

I see I got MY solo section. I probably tried to weasel out of it. I think the first song…The Love You’re Letting In is an original. If it is…it is lost in the mists of time. I’m sure it was a classic. Sleep’s Dark and Silent Gate is a huge downer song about death so it is wonderfully appropriate that I play it during this festive evening. I apparently had not learned about the show business concept of “pacing” yet.

That’s right. We had an electric guitar player named Eric Sabo in the band for a while. He was way above our talent level. He enabled us to play Steely Dan songs…and here’s where we did just that. Reeling in the Years. I wonder if I strapped on Eddy’s white Strat and played the harmony parts? If so, they probably sucked.

Riot in Cell Block #9 was Dean’s showcase. I still can hear him screaming out “The whole rhythm section was the purple gang!!!!” That boy could sell a song.

PT comes back to sing Lucinda. I kind of remember this song. I don’t know if it was an original.

To wrap up the show we did my song Goodbye Rosie. This was the other song on the original reel that I sent to Harold and it got me on the road to “Success.”

It says here we had a special guest. Anyone out there remember this show? Do you remember who this was? And what did we play as a Finale? Dean was always good coming up with great songs to wrap up shows with. I don’t remember. Too bad.

That was a fun night. The logistics were nutty. It made every session or concert I’ve ever put on since seem pretty damn easy.

We lost John Petrucelli a few years back. That was crushing. As far as everybody else on the list, everyone is still on the right side of the grass, right?

Come on. Anyone out there at this show? Got any memories of your own?

Okay. It’s time for the old guy to yell at the kids to get off his lawn. Here are my thoughts about the ACM Awards show last Wednesday night.

 

I actually liked the format they had to use to stay safe. I would much rather have a show with no audience than one with an audience that’s being told when to cheer and probably sweetened with canned cheers in the production booth.

 

Yay Bluebird!!! Even though it was barely recognizable…the tables were different, the pictures behind the stage were different…even the MIC STAND was brought in special. Still. Everyone got to see where we work.
It is kind of sad that, despite being a country music awards show, it took a pandemic to get the show in Nashville.
How did they figure out who was going to be where when the winners were announced? That is perplexing. Did they put an award on a stool at every venue and make sure one of the nominees was standing by to walk out and accept? Logistics, baby!!!

 

Do you ever get down on your knees and thank the Spanish language that the word for girl is “senorita?” Without that one word, country music would never be able to have songs about margaritas.

 

I will chime in and complain like all old songwriters. There was a time when every song up for song of the year was written by one writer, maybe two. Now, with one exception, every song seems to be written by committee.

 

Two of the ladies from Runaway June were suppose to come over last Wednesday and work on a demo but they cancelled at the last minu…oh. That’s why.

 

I have decided that, while most of the songs are now about the same thing, it has come down to the producers to make them all sound different. It is mildly entertaining to hear how they manage that.
Lovely “In Memoriam” spot. When they do it at the Oscars, they are all famous…..but it’s sure a lot harder when some of them are friends.

 

All in all….one and a half thumbs up. Nothing I would stay up for but I was willing to tape it and watch it in sections. Georgia and I actually had our own show the same night.
I gave that show two thumbs up.

This is the time of year I would be getting ready to head up to my old hometown, Meriden, Ct and do a show.

 

Every couple of years I have been going up and playing with the musicians I grew up with. Guitars would be pulled out from under beds and callouses would be reformed on fingertips. Always a wonderful reason for all of us to stay in touch and eat steamed cheeseburgers together.

 

One year Georgia and I did a show together up there that was a blast. Usually the shows would be an excuse to get old bands back together to relearn Beatle songs. The audiences were always about 90% blood relations. We always rent the ballroom at the local hotel and set up a stage and a dance floor and off we would go.

 

We do them in the Fall, timed so that I would get to see some of the autumn splendor. Driving up to the top of West Peak and climbing Castle Craig would give me the view of my old city that I needed to remind me what’s important. (Spoiler alert: Not having vertigo as you are climbing Castle Craig is what’s important.)

 

West Peak is where Mike and John and I would go to sit, sheltered from the wind, and look out over the city and dream our silly little dreams that mostly revolved around none of us staying in Meriden.

 

Don’t get me wrong. Meriden was a terrific place to grow up. I could walk to school. I could even walk home if I wanted to have lunch at home during grade school. GRADE SCHOOL!! That’s crazy.

 

In High School I walked to and from school with a baritone horn case in alternating hands. To this day both my arms are five inches longer than they should be for a man my size.

 

I would walk from school (junior and senior high) all the way downtown to the YMCA where Mike and I would work the desk on the kid’s side. Mostly the two of us would play ping pong for hours at a time. I would walk home in the dark. No worries. I took judo for seven years. No one was gonna mess with me. I was a badass.

 

This year would have been the year we did a show. Because of the pandemic it was not to be. This makes me very sad. I hope everyone back in Meriden knows how much the shows mean to me and how much I wish I could come up and play.

 

So to Kevin, Mike S, Robbie, Markie, Gary H, Gary K, Tommy, Dean, Mike V, Bruce…and all the rest of you old thugs (and your respective lovely thug spouses)…I can’t even tell you to go to Lido’s and have a slice on me…or go to Les’ and get a cone. (At least Les’ is still there!!!!!).

 

Keep your masks on. Stay safe. Next Fall we’ll think of a silly name for the band and an even sillier one for the event and we will all get up on stage together and rock.

 

Then we’ll all head for the Middletown Diner.

It’s Labor Day. The ultimate contradiction since the name implies that this is the day we labor.

 

But no….

 

We get today off. A nice three day weekend.

 

Yesterday was March. I’m pretty sure it was. What? September?

 

We blinked and we are at the end of the summer. What a strange feeling. Georgia and I had a whole summer’s worth of shows and traveling to do and it went away.

 

The last five months have been full of home made desserts and Peaky Blinders.

 

What has been the craziest thing is my writing. I’ve gone nutso with it. Turns out when I have to write… I don’t like to write.

 

When I don’t have to write…I’m a wild man.

 

Songs are leaking out of me like ….

 

I’m sorry. Every simile I can think of right now is disgusting.

 

“Like _______ out of a runner’s ____ who just carb loaded at Taco Bell.”

 

“Like __________from the _____________ of a teenage boy on Prom Night”

 

Yikes.

 

See? I can’t stop writing sensitive and pithy lyrics.

 

By the end of Labor Day I will undoubtedly have labored myself into a new song. I have about three albums worth. What do I do with them? My storage room can’t hold any more boxes of cds with my face on them. (Maybe I should always put Georgia’s face on my cds. Then they would sell!)

 

I could make videos for all the songs and put them up on Youtube. (If I were twenty and had forty more years to live.)

 

I could find a plugger here in town and actually shop them around to the new artists and see if anyon…….sorry. I couldn’t even finish typing that sentence. I was laughing too hard.
So….Happy Labor Day everyone. Blink and we’ll be wishing each other a Happy Thanksgiving and then a Happy New Year.

 

I’m going to invest in some of those eye clamps like they used at the end of “Clockwork Orange.”
Can’t blink….can’t lose any more time.

Monday Musings
I gotta tell ya….writing blogs to be released every Monday morning was a lot easier when I would spend the week out in the real world doing what I used to call “stuff.”

 

Georgia and I would go out to restaurants and the waiter would do something that made us laugh or at the very least say to each other “Well, there goes HIS tip.” Boom. That’s a blog right there.

 

I’d go to an office down on the Row to write with somebody and I would see all the signs hanging from the office buildings, telling me about another twenty-year old writer who just had a number one. Boom. I got a blog about how it feels to NOT have any signs hanging on buildings down on Music Row. (Hint: It feels great. I have embraced my anonymity and it makes my underworld activities so much safer for my “crew.”)

 

I still go grocery shopping but since I am wearing a mask and everyone I see is hopefully wearing a mask…I can’t recognize anyone and no one recognized me. I don’t have to say hello to anyone. It is an introvert’s wet dream.  The downside is that I run into no one who might have an interesting story to tell me that I could then write as a blog and claim it actually happened to ME.

 

I have been doing these blogs for a long time so I think I can be forgiven for a little experiential plagiarism.

 

But we have a pact, remember? I made the early, unfortunate choice of not putting an expiration date on this little exercise so on and on and on it goes until I am stealing whole chapters out of books I’ve read and passing them off as my own life.

 

That’s all for now. I have to get back out in the yard and keep whitewashing the fence with my pal Huck….

Back at The Bluebird

Last Friday night Georgia and I were onstage, singing at the famous Bluebird Café. The audience was quiet and attentive.

Both of them.

This was the Bluebird’s first virtual show…a test run, as it were. Georgia and I have been doing virtual shows on a platform called Stageit every Wednesday night ever since the quarantine hit. We know how it works and we shared our knowledge with the Bluebird to try to help them get up and running.

It was strange to be there playing to an empty house but it was empowering too. It felt like we were reclaiming a bit of our industry, fifty minutes at a time.

That night also made us both think about our history at the club and remember how much it means to us. I have some amazing memories from my years of playing there. Allow me to share a few:

The Bluebird is where I was performing a showcase and my background singer Faith got a record deal instead of me. That’s okay. She was prettier.

I played in the round with amazing artists like Michael McDonald, Carole King, Kenny Loggins, John Sabastian, Richard Marx, Olivia Newton John…the list goes on and on.

We played birthday pajama parties there. We had a band that included hit songwriters Vince Melamed, Jim Photoglo and Bob DiPiero and we were called Mel DiBurpho and every spring we would celebrate our collective birthdays by having a pajama party at the Bluebird. The audience wore pajamas too and it was a blast.

We would do crazy things. We’d set an alarm and when it went off we would take our break…even if it were in the middle of a song.

We would order pizzas for the whole club and auction off autographed slices (the crust).

One year I bought two huge teddy bears and sliced open their stomachs so I could slip my feet into them and wear them all night as slippers.

Most of my friends are Bluebird friends. I met them there or played with them there or saw them there and went up after the show and introduced myself and begged them to be my friend.

Friday night we felt like we were helping to nurse the club back to health, in a small way. We were very careful and health conscious. I hope they do more of these shows. Just seeing the neon bluebird lit up behind the stage made me feel a little better about the world.

We didn’t order pizza but if we had… we could have gotten away with a small.

Monday Musings

In 1974 Pure Prairie League was playing Wesleyan College, right up the street. I had recently returned from Santa Cruz and was working at an auto parts store. I took the job in a desperate effort to resist the gravitational pull of Dad’s business. Let me type that again: an AUTO Parts store.

I had no idea what tie rods were, but for several months I pretended I did and handed them over to people who seemed to really need them and trust me. With luck they nodded and handed me $37.50. Sometimes they asked me questions like “Do I need to replace the floivan if the retro gaskets are spoogled?” That’s when I became the Bill Murray character in the Greek Diner sketch. Frantically nodding my head and hoping one of the grizzled veterans would step up and answer.

This job did not pay well enough to allow me concert tickets. I drove up to the campus in the late afternoon and looked for the auditorium, hoping I could hear a little bit of their sound check.

I found the venue, parked the car and set my ear against a large metal door.  I could hear them running through “Country Song”…the very song that made me fall in love with this band! It was so cool to hear them working it out…starting and stopping…..great harmonies. The song finished and I thought that was about as much excitement as I was going to get when suddenly the door opened and out came their bass player, Mike Reilly. He was incredibly warm and nice to me (didn’t offer me tickets even though I very plainly told him I was too broke to come to the show) and chatted with me for a nice while.

Pure Prairie League went through some strange transitions in the next bunch of years. They got Vince Gill in the band and went pop with saxophones and stuff and put out their big pop hit “Let Me Love You Tonight” . They appeared on Midnight Special. This was not my favorite time for them. I sort of lost interest in this new version but treasured the old records and the memory of that afternoon at their sound check.

One day in 1980, Harold, my producer in NYC,  called and said he had an interesting proposition for me. He was also my publisher and had been sending out my tapes a hundred at a time all over the country to try and get my songwriting career going. One of the people he had been sending regular tapes to was a producer who was in talks to do an album with Pure Prairie League. The band had a slight dilemma. They had just fired Vince Gill. (Their side of the story. Fired? Quit? Vince will have to tell you his own damn version over breakfast at Noshville) They hired a new guy and just had to fire him because on the first gig he had sex with the housekeeper at the hotel and the hotel management frowned on that.
The producer knew my voice and thought I would be a good fit. Would I be interested in flying to Cincinnati and auditioning for the slot?

I hopped on a plane (on their dime…holy cow this is real show business) and I went out where I discovered that, rather than being a voice the producer insisted would be the missing piece….I was one of many singers they were auditioning that week. One of the hopefuls had just won Star Search. If it came down to him and me, my only hope would be that they would quiz us on car parts and I could tell them how much a tie rod costs.

GB-PPLThe good news? They chose me. I was now the lead singer of one of my favorite bands. The bad news? They had a saxophone. No steel guitar. A saxophone.  They were a much more rock and pop sounding band than I remember. It was still an amazing lineup. Al Garth on sax and Merle Bregante on drums, from the Loggins and Messina band (foreshadowing?) Tim Goshorn, a great lead guitarist who’s brother used to be in the band and wrote several of their hits during the “Two Lane Highway” era. Mike Reilly still on bass. He did not remember our conversation all those years ago. (Do I not make the impression I think I do? He was probably on drugs.)

The downiest down side was that my idol, Craig Fuller, was no longer with them. He started the band and wrote all those great early songs like “Amie” and “Early Morning Riser.” That meant I was singing Amie. I can’t tell you how many people came up to me and thanked me for writing that song and telling me how great it was. In the beginning I tried to give credit where it was due and tell them Craig wrote it. After a few months I just started saying “thank you” and signing their breasts. I signed very illegibly so they would see what they want to see.

After about a year I got the great news that Craig Fuller was rejoining the band. I would still have plenty of songs to sing but he would take over the ones he wrote. Craig is a brilliantly cynical bastard. At one outdoor concert we got to the last chorus of Amie, where we stop singing and let the audience carry the song. We had about 10,000 people singing at the top of their lungs. That would make me pretty damn emotional if it was a song I had written. Craig sidled up next to me, leaned his head close to mine, smirked and said “Touching, isn’t it?”

I stayed with PPL for about six years and had some wonderful experiences. Vince and I were both inducted into the Songwriter Hall of Fame on the same year so we laughed about our connection. Their great steel player John David Call is back with the band these days. Reilly is still on bass and looks more and more like “Old Luke”, the guy on their album covers.. Their wonderful piano player Michael Connor passed away as did Tim Goshorn….yikes, we’re losing people.

One of the great seminal country rock bands. And “Amie” is one of the best songs ever written about an underage French Canadian prostitute.