Singer/songwriters Kenny Loggins, Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman recently formed the new band Blue Sky Riders, and were profiled by Huff/Post50 in February. They are finishing their first album and will be chronicling their experiences as a band in this blog.
In 2007 I was working on my CD for Target, "How About Now," when I met the very talented Nashville Songwriters' Hall of Famer, Gary Burr. He and his fiancee, Georgia Middleman, are known as Nashville "guns for hire." These "behind the hits" songwriters were living quite blissful solo lives, collecting their "mail-box money" until I came along.
I asked Gary if he was open to working together. He was, so we set about writing some songs, most of them based on my journal entries from the first few years of my recent divorce. In many ways for me, mining those journals for nuggets of musical inspiration was a painful process, yet Gary and I spent as much time laughing as we did writing. And the songs were good -- some of them damn good. But the best part was that when we sang them together, it sounded like "sibling harmony." And I couldn't help thinking to myself, "If this were 20 years ago, with this effortless a mix of fun, songs and voices, we'd have started a band."
Something pushes you when you make art for a living, something beyond logic. Julia (my ex) used to call whatever that is, "the bread crumbs we follow to get to ourselves." So you look for the diamonds hiding in the grass, because that's where inspiration lives, that's where the fun is, and that's what making music is all about. Creating something to spark you, some new musical landscape to explore, to get the creative juices flowing. It's what keeps you young. Hell, even alive.
So that "band stew" cooked inside me, and even while I was working on another CD, about a half a year after our first collaborations in Nashville, while on a run through the foothills of Santa Barbara, the endorphins kicked in and I KNEW it was time. Right there, on the side of the road, I pulled out my cell phone and finally called Gary to ask him if he'd like to form that band. He, of course, thought I'd lost my mind, but after a second of chuckling, he agreed with something like, "Why Kenny, that's a dandy idea..." When we hung up, somethin' tells me he never really expected to hear from me again. ("Stars, ya know. They're all a bit nuts. I've learned to just adopt a 'wait-n-see' attitude.")
But I'm funny that way, and the feeling, the inspiration to do something NEW wouldn't let me go. So even while I was recording my next "Parent's CD," every now and then I would check back in with Gary, just to let him know I was still the proverbial dog with a bone, and was still dreaming on the band thing.
Then, another day running through the hills, once again the endorphins kick in, and out of the blue I suddenly realize we need a third member! Three-part harmony. Never done that before! And it's gotta be a female voice. A singer/songwriter of some high credibility, but preferably, an as-yet undiscovered talent. It's gotta be all be about the writing!
I called Gary. "You know any great chick-singer/songwriters?"
"Hell yeah," he replied, "Georgia Middleman. She's the best I've ever worked with. Sings on all my demos. Our blend is magic. Plus, Georgia just wrote Keith Urban's hit, I'm In," he added. "She's good."
Coming from Gary Burr, that's one hell of an endorsement, so I agreed to fly out to Nashville for a meeting.
And what a meeting! Within our first three hours together, the three of us wrote our first song, and we're singing with a three-part blend that comes once in a lifetime. I was as high as a 10-year-old boy hearing "Hound Dog" for the very first time, like a kid I knew once, who hitch-hiked his way to the Monterey Pop Festival (the Woodstock before Woodstock), in the summer of 1966, only to have the course of his life changed forever.
At that moment "me n GnG" started seriously considering the "band thing," which honestly, at this stage of my life feels a lot like Mickey Rooney saying to Judy Garland, "Hey kids...Let's put on a show!!" It's crazy talk. It's a million-to-one long shot. But it sure is fun!
Check out part three of a series of videos in which the Blue Sky Riders answer Huff/Post50's big life questions. Here, Kenny gives his advice for the next generation; Georgia talk about who she would like to reincarnate as; and Gary discusses his biggest regret.