Kenny Loggins and Gary Burr were writing songs together and starting a new band seemed like a good idea at the time. But unlike a tattoo or most political affiliations, the band still seems like a good idea.
And that, more or less, is how Blue Sky Riders come to be playing at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek tonight.
But before we can tell you that story, we have to tell you this story.
Hey! Let’s start a band!
Loggins and Burr were writing songs for Loggins’ latest solo album when it occurred to Loggins that they should start a band. They dismissed it as absurd, but the notion wouldn’t leave Loggins’ noggin.
So he called Burr. They talked for a while and decided to give it a try.
It was an easy sell, Burr said.
“Walk up to any writer in Nashville and you don’t have to scratch very hard to uncover a performer,” Burr said.
They needed a female voice, but they did NOT drive over to Georgia Middleman and make her an offer she could have refused by saying, “Hey darlin”! How’d you like to go for a ride with us and our dogs. We just had our truck washed!”
Although that might have been kinda romantic, Middleman said laughing.
What really happened was Loggins called Burr back and suggested that if they were going to start a band, then they’d need a female singer.
“I have a feeling that she’s Nashville based, and I have a feeling you know who it is,” Loggins told Burr.
Burr was sitting next to Middleman while he and Loggins were talking.
Turns out that Middleman and Burr had started dating after being friends for 17 years.
“I’ve been a huge fan of all of these guys. When the chance to go on the road came up, I was happy to go,” Middleman said.
Burr is a songwriter, so he thinks about stuff like the dynamic between three people in a band, and especially two guys and a girl in a band.
“I wanted to make sure I wasn’t closing one door by opening another,” Burr said.
They wrote the music for their “Finally Home” album and they’re on the road all summer. That’s a bunch of togetherness, but it’s great so far, Middleman said.
In photos, Georgia is in the middle — a rose among the thorns, they say laughing.
They actually think about stuff like this. With Kenny in the middle they looked like a Loggins backup band. They’re not.
They put in an acoustic set in the middle of a show so they can all strut their personal stuff. Some shows see a Kenny Loggins set. Every show will feature a bunch of Blue Sky Riders songs they wrote especially for this project.
Loggins, as you likely know, has lots and lots of material, as do the others.
Middleman has written for Keith Urban, Faith Hill, Kenny Chesney and Reba McEntire, among others.
Burr is in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. He has written 13 No. 1 hits and has penned songs for Tim McGraw, Reba McEntire, LeAnn Rimes, Ricky Martin and Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson and played and written with Ringo Starr and Carole King. Burr’s accolades also include Songwriter of the Year by ASCAP, Billboard and Nashville Songwriters Association International.
“We tend to work on something until we all say, ‘Yeah that’s it,’” Loggins said. “It works because we respect each other.”
Apparently they respect each other enough to hit the metaphorical flush handle when they don’t like a song.
For example, if Middleman doesn’t like something, they don’t do it, Loggins said.
Does young Ms. Middleman really have that kind of veto power?
“I do have that kind of veto power, and it’s great,” she laughed.
“We really lucked out,” Burr said. “Georgia and I have been writers for hire in Nashville for a long time. When it came time to write for this project, we make it a point to write a BSR song, not a Kenny Loggins song, or a Georgia Middleman song or a Gary Burr song.”
The Blue Sky Riders started riding down this road already. “Finally Home” follows the 2011 EP “Live At The Rutledge.”
“I felt the need to do something different and get the creativity flowing again. I had run out of things to say as a solo artist,” Loggins said. “There’s an ease in writing and a blend in our vocals. I keep getting a great vibe from it.”
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vail daily.com.
“We tend to work on something until we all say, ‘Yeah that’s it.’ It works because we respect each other.”