By Collin Breaux
After more than 50 years of playing music, legendary country rock band Pure Prairie League will perform in San Juan Capistrano right before the start of summer.
The band behind hits including “Amie” and “Let Me Love You Tonight” is scheduled to perform at The Coach House on June 18. Bass player and singer Mike Reilly says they always look forward to a West Coast run, because they don’t get out in this area as much as they used to.
“We got a million friends down there,” Reilly says about the band’s fan base and fellow bands in Southern California.
Reilly thinks the concert will be fun, considering the band remains in high spirits after 53 years of performing. In fact, Pure Prairie League is also getting ready to record in the studio again.
The members, however, are not touring as frequently as they were in the 1970s and ’80s, as well as reducing their schedule these days.
“We’re all getting long in the tooth,” Reilly said.
California is a fun spot for the band to tour, because the Golden State has been a historic hub for their country rock style of music, he says.
Pure Prairie League was in the middle of the country rock explosion that happened in the ’70s, which took a long time to catch on as a genre, Reilly reflects.
Speaking of the genre’s roots in folk rock, he recalls how fellow stalwarts The Byrds mixed country, folk, and rock around the same time.
“To me, it’s just a wonderful, natural progression,” Reilly says of how country rock has come along.
Pure Prairie League always wanted to play music people could enjoy and sing along to, he says. While Buffalo Springfield took stances on the social issues of the day, Pure Prairie League shied away from political overtones.
“We didn’t feel it was our place to get up on a soapbox,” Reilly says.
He feels a sense of gratitude for being able to continue performing in front of audiences who know their songs and join in for the chorus.
“People, after all these decades, want to come out and pay their hard-earned dough to watch these old farts play,” Reilly says. “They bring their kids out.”
The older audience members tend to get transported back to their college days when Pure Prairie League plays the familiar catalogue, he says.
As for the new music they’re making, Reilly says Pure Prairie League isn’t trying to make hit records anymore—though that would be nice—or wedded to the big-record labels from their heyday.
“It’s really nice for us to record some of our own songs again,” Reilly says. “We get to do it on our own and take our own time.”
Reilly calls their new songs “good” and says they play them on stage sometimes to gauge how fans will react.
Pure Prairie League won’t be around forever, though. Reilly urges fans to take advantage of the opportunity with the upcoming show at The Coach House.
“I’m not saying we’ll be around another 53 years,” he says, “so take the chance to see us while you can.”
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