On Saturday night, Kenny Loggins will walk onto the stage in the D&R Theatre as one-third of the opening band, The Blue Sky Riders. After their set is done, the singer will return as the main show to play songs from his solo career.
Most will remember him from the early ‘70s as a duo with Jim Messina then later as a solo artist. Since they parted in 1976., Loggins has released 12 platinum albums and won several Grammys.
In the new band, The Blue Sky Riders, Loggins is joined by Georgia Middleman and Gary Burr, who are both songwriters and solo artists.
In a phone interview this week, Loggins said this collaboration represents a new phase of a music career some considered over. While working with Burr for his 2008 album, Loggins realized they were doing great work together. With the addition of Middleman, they met and wrote their first song together the same day.
The Blue Sky Riders released their debut album, “Finally Home” on Jan. 29 and are now on their first tour together. The biggest push for this band, Burr said, is that it is performing during a time many see the artists as in the “cocktail hour” of their lives.
“We’ve decided to go out and do the improbable, which is to compete in a marketplace that is traditionally not very welcoming to people over a certain age,” he said. “We’ve decided not to care. To me, our songs are joyful and defiant.”
All three members said their favorite song on the record is “Just Say Yes.” Originally written as a bonus track, it was the last song written and was meant to add an upbeat pace to the release.
“When we wrote that song, it was just so good and we loved it,” Middleman said. “So we stopped the presses and got it on there. It’s kind of a special song in that way.”
This song is the most upbeat one on the album. Loggins said that they enjoy performing it so much that they plan to write many more like it for future projects.
Loggins told his agent that this summer he wanted to play in venues he’d never been to before, also called “secondary markets.” Instead of playing in Seattle again, Loggins is performing in Aberdeen and Snoqualmie this month, then finishing the tour in Bow, Wash., this October.
“Secondary markets are secondary because they’re harder to get to,” Loggins said. “The touring travel has been more rigorous, but I love the audiences. They’re very appreciative because a lot of acts don’t go to those towns.”
The Blue Sky Riders released the album on their own record label, 3Dream Records. Although all three agreed it’s been great to be in charge of the creative process, all small businesses face a very real challenge: funding.
“Every time we play a show, anything we get goes into the pot for the record label,” Middleman said. “We are pretty self-sustaining by (putting) the money we get performing back into the company.”
They have not signed any other bands, focusing on the Blue Sky Riders for now, but it is a possibility, she said.
Every song on “Finally Home” was written as a collaboration between all three. This occurs whenever the three of them can be in the same room for an extended period of time.
Middleman and Burr are married and live in Nashville, while Loggins lives in Santa Barbara.
Whenever they were able to, they would get together for up to a week at a time to do nothing but write.
The group also writes the music composition to completely work out each song during the writing process.
“My dream of the Blue Sky Riders was that it would be three writers who also sing,” Loggins said. “We got incredibly lucky that we also have three lead singers.”
Although in sync for the writing and producing, they each have different styles for the writing process. Middleman prefers using a laptop, which Loggins is working on getting better with.
Burr sticks fiercely to pen and paper.
“When the Songwriter Hall of Fame wants a copy of it to put in their museum, you’ll both be glad I wrote it down on paper with a pencil,” Burr said.
While Middleman and Burr are working on solo albums, Loggins does not currently have any side projects.
“I’m focusing on the Blue Sky Riders, because that’s where the inspiration is for me,” Loggins said. “I’m waiting because I know when the time is right, I’ll start just automatically writing my own stuff. Just hasn’t happened yet.”
Saturday’s show will be comprised of a rehearsed and chosen set. Loggins tries to create a new set every tour to keep it as fresh as possible.
Anything from “The Art of Letting Go” to “Celebrate Me Home” to “Conviction of the Heart” may turn up.
Middleman generally takes the place of Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac in the duet “Whenever I Call You Friend” from Loggins’ 1978 solo album.
Currently, the Blue Sky Riders are working on a Christmas EP, which will be released in time for the holiday season. In the beginning of next year, the band plans to begin working on its second album.