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Richie Furay, Architect Of Country Rock, Goes Country

As I say in the intro of Episode 217, the opportunity to speak with Richie Furay came over the transom and out of the blue. He’s lived in Colorado since the 70s and he’s been off and on the touring circuit in recent years. But where most of my conversations are ones I seek out, this one came to me, and it was a welcome surprise. Furay was an architect of country rock as the co-founder of both Buffalo Springfield and POCO, version 1.0, before the band mellowed into a soft rock staple. He came over with a small entourage on a swing through Nashville to make his debut on the Grand Ole Opry, and promote his new album of contemporary (leaning) country covers. He was as cheerful and amiable a guy as you’d ever hope to meet.

When he took the Opry stage, Furay said he felt the full weight of country music history and got a great reception. I asked him if he’d thought about the mixed record of country rock at the Opry, where acts like Elvis and The Byrds encountered famously ambivalent audiences.

“You do think about it,” he says. “We were starting something in Los Angeles that was new in the current music scene, but it was (also) certainly old. Because, you know, some of my favorites were like Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent and Carl Perkins and the rockabilly guys. They were country rock, and we were country rock. I wrote in my song ‘We Were The Dreamers’, redneck and hippie man, they didn't stand on the same stage together, you know? But today, it's just music, and that's what it's all about. But there was a day when there was a definite conflict.”

Enjoy this high speed spin through his New York folkie days meeting Stephen Stills and Gram Parsons, being lured to California, negotiating tumultuous change in band personnel and putting performing life aside for a decade to pursue the ministry.

Also in the hour, my delightful encounter with Nashville newcomers Monique and Chauntee Ross, the violin and cello duo Sista Strings, as we cover their classical music background and their collaborative flair with songwriters, including tours with Allison Russell and Brandi Carlile. See my full feature on Sista Strings and hear the full conversation here.

Craig Havighurst is WMOT's editorial director and host of <i>The String, a weekly interview show airing Mondays at 8 pm, repeating Sundays at 7 am. He also co-hosts The Old Fashioned on Saturdays at 9 am and Tuesdays at 8 pm. Threads and Instagram: @chavighurst. Email: craig@wmot.org</i>