What’sUp Interview: Pure Prairie League’s Mike Reilly – Band to Play Greenwich Odeum Feb. 23

Band to Play Greenwich Odeum Sunday

Pure Prairie League (Photo: Laura Schneider)

Pretty much everyone over the age of 50 (40?, 30?) knows the song, and the chorus by heart … “Amieeee, what you wanna do …”

The FM radio classic of the 1970’s almost didn’t make it. Originally released in 1972 on the album Bustin’ Out, “Amie” was re-released as a single in 1975 before it got widespread attention.

Pure Prairie League wasn’t too well known until that song, with its cheerful chorus and ambivalent lyrics (“falling in and out of love with you, don’t know what I’m gonna do”) became a radio staple and concert highlight.

The band celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and has a full slate of touring planned. I spoke to guitar/bass/vocalist Michael Reilly last month about his role in the band and more.

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“I knew the band when they started in ’69; I was doing something else, but when I got the opportunity to join in on the second album, I jumped at it. I never thought back then that we’d get to the point of celebrating Pure Prairie League’s 50th anniversary and all of the sudden we’re here.”

The band’s country-pop style yielded some hits in the early 80’s, most notably “Let Me Love You Tonight.” At their start, they combined county, rock and even a little bluegrass. Much of that music is fresh once again.

 Reilly noted, “that resurgence – it’s all on the wheel. Music is just a repetitive process on the wheel of life. It comes around sometimes, not as soon as some people would like, but I believe that people’s tastes, what they listen to, and what they’re exposed to can bring about a resurgence. I think that’s great.”

Pure Prairie League was the ultimate college band a few decades back. Many fans remember their epic shows on campuses across the country. Reilly mentioned that he never gets tired of talking about “Amie.”

“Our demographic is pretty much my age, 60-70, people that grew up and went to college in the 60’s and 70’s, we used to do 250-275 college shows a year back in the 70’s, it sort of became part of their soundtrack,” explained Reilly. “The fact that we crammed ‘Amie’ down everyone’s throats for ten years kind of turned that into a classic.”

Fans will be pleased to know that even at 50, the band isn’t thinking of quitting anytime soon.

“We’re working on new tunes; we’ve had a couple of new songs in the set for about a year. The next project is going to be Mementos Volume 2. I’m going to get a bunch of guys who were in the band from 1999 to the present and we’re going to re-record ten of the old songs that haven’t been touched for years and four new ones. Its going to be an interesting project.”

He’s also looking forward to Sunday’s show.

“We’re feeling really lucky and really energized that we get to do this. If the last show was any indication, the people were avid fan, and everybody hung out after the show to talk to me and the guys in the band. There were two other bands on the bill – Firefall and Orleans – and everybody in the theater stayed around to talk. It was a great night, standing ovations out the ying yang. We’re lucky and blessed that we get this kind of response this far down the line.”

Expect a great show Sunday, February 23 at the Greenwich Odeum. Marielle Kraft opens. For tickets and further details, click here.