Sometimes, inspiration hits when and where you least expect it. For a recent example of this, look at the story of the Blue Sky Riders, a trio comprising of soft-rock icon Kenny Loggins, as well as highly respected Nashville singer-songwriters Georgia Middleman and Gary Burr.
"I was working on a solo album for Target," says Loggins, "and the first song we wrote together became the title song, 'How About Now,'" he said referring to his songwriting collaboration with Burr. "When we did the demos and sang together, I noticed we had a particularly strong vocal blend. It just popped into my head that it might be fun to try a band. We both dismissed it as absurd, but even a few months later, it just wouldn't let me go. I kept thinking it would be fun and interesting. So, I called Gary, and said 'I think we should give it a try, if you're into it. But, let's include a female singer. I have a feeling that she's Nashville based, and I have a feeling you know who it is.' He said 'Yes, I'm sitting next to her."
Burr picks up the story. "Georgia and I had just started dating after knowing each other for seventeen years. She was literally sitting next to me on the couch. I didn't just blurt it out, but I thought about it for awhile, as there is a dynamic between three people in a band, much less two guys and a girl in a band. I wanted to make sure I wasn't close one door by opening another, but it all turned out great."
That could very well be the understatement of the year, The debut album from the Blue Sky Riders, "Finally Home," is full of strong lyrics and impeccable harmonies -- all in all, music that defies genre classification.
"We came up with the idea that it kind of is Pop / Americana," confirms Burr, who has penned hits by artists such as Faith Hill, Conway Twitty, and Garth Brooks. "We set out to make a record like the old records used to be -- where you couldn't tell what the next song was going to be by what you just heard. It could be a different feel, or we could sound like a different band. The connective tissue of this record is the quality of songwriting, the harmonies, and the sound of the voices. Other than that, we jump around from New Orleans to acoustic three-part harmony folk music to pop music. It's a nice journey."
Loggins agrees, but also adds "That being said, it's not so eclectic that you can't feel the Blue Sky Riders is the center of it all, because we wrote it all together. As we wrote more and more, it became more cohesive with who we are. We like to say there was a fourth entity when we were writing, and it was the Blue Sky Riders. You can almost not tell which part is whose. It's like the blending of the three writers creates this fourth sound that none of us could do individually."
Though on an individual level, each member has enjoyed success, working together as a trio brings about a different intangible. Loggins can attest to this, going back to his days as a part of Loggins & Messina.
"Any organization is different based on the personalities involved, but there are certain things that are a constant – like getting up at 5:30 in the morning for a TV or radio interview. The work is a constant, but how the individuals approach that is different from place to place. Jimmy was always a hard worker, and willing to do whatever it took. He was my mentor, and that's where I learned it. The stuff I learned with Loggins & Messina I now apply to Blue Sky Riders. I know it's hard work. I've been here before," he says with an energized grin.