MANHATTAN, NY—Paul Richard “Richie” Furay was about 20 years old when he finished college and left his hometown of Yellow Springs, Ohio, to become a folksinger in New York City. This was 1964. There he met Stephen Stills. Together they led the nine-member Au Go Go Singers, the house band at the Cafe Au Go Go folk music club. The Au Go Go Singers recorded one album together. Furay was working at an aircraft engine company when he heard the beginnings of a country rock movement developing in California. He contacted Stills there and they formed Buffalo Springfield with Neil Young, Bruce Palmer, and Dewey Martin. The group had a hit song but split after two years and three albums, with Stills and Young moving on to greater fame.
Intending to pursue country rock, Furay formed Poco in 1969 with Jim Messina, Rusty Young, George Grantham and Randy Meisner in the late 1960s. That band also looked poised to break into the big time but never did; Furay left Poco in 1974 after six albums, and Messina went on to fame with Loggins & Messina. The Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, with J.D. Souther and Chris Hillman, was Furay’s next attempt at rock and roll stardom, but that group recorded one marginal hit single and two albums before disbanding. Although he has participated in short-lived attempts to reform Buffalo Springfield and Poco, Furay has been a solo artist since 1976 and since 1983 a pastor of a church in Broomfield, Colorado. The Richie Furay Band presently consists of Furay on vocals and rhythm guitar, his daughter Jesse Furay Lynch on backing vocals, Scott Sellen on lead guitar with his son Aaron Sellen on bass, and Alan Lemke on drums. The most current album is the 2007 29-song double CD Richie Furay Band Alive.
At B.B. King Blues Club tonight, Furay performed a handful of Buffalo Springfield songs and a handful of Poco songs, but also introduced some of his newer material. Early in the set, Furay sang a medley of three Neil Young-written songs he sang in Buffalo Springfield, “Flying On The Ground In Wrong,” “Do I Have To Come Right Out And Say It” and “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing.” Later in the evening Furay sang three others, including the band’s only hit song, “For What It’s Worth,” which was originally sung by Stephen Stills, and an encore of “On My Way Home,” originally sung by Neil Young. The Poco songs included the better-known “Pickin’ Up The Pieces” and “A Good Feelin’ To Know,” plus three others. A sparse and tender encore of “Kind Woman,” a song dedicated to his wife of 47 years, was the bridge, a song written for Buffalo Springfield but better known by Poco. Furay also sang the sole Souther Hillman Furay Band hit, “Fallin’ In Love.” The new songs included the title-track of a forthcoming album, Hand In Hand. These lyrics described the faith and hope that comes with a mature love; the song may be the sequel to “Kind Woman,” nearly 50 years later. Furay’s daughter sang lead on one new song as well, “A Girl Like That.”
Furay is 70 years old, but tonight he sang as well as he did in his prime. Similarly, his repertoire has stood the test of time. The problem tonight was that country rock is no longer cutting edge music and the exciting innovation of those songs has diminished. The songs were reworked somewhat for the stripped down band as well. Poco frequently had several instrumentalists playing pedal steel, banjo and guitar off of each other, but tonight’s band featured one talented guitarist driving those songs. Furay and his band performed well, but the show was especially suited for the nostalgic country rocker.
Visit Richie Furay at richiefuray.com.