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Back to back to Bethel: Let the good times roll

Scores of fans lined up for Pure Prairie League autographs on CDs, shirts and old school LPs.


November 17, 2011

Considering that the brakes on my truck failed this past week, I was unsure that I would be rolling anywhere, much less to Louisiana or the prairie states—but a well-placed call to one of my (not so secret) crushes delivered a mechanic to my front door, tool belt (and brake pads) at the ready. Hearing the rising panic in my voice, he soothed my jangled nerves and got to work, making it possible for me to get on the road... in search of good times. (Thank you JW!)

Unencumbered by fear, I made my way (once again!) to the Bethel Woods Performing Arts Center (Bethelwoodscenter.org) to check out American country rock legends Pure Prairie League (PPL), joining a faithful legion of fans who turned out in droves to hear the tight harmonies and masterful musicianship of these guys, who have been entertaining country fans since their first bona fide hit “Amie” climbed the billboard charts in 1975.

One of the reasons I love all things country is that every song tells a story, and PPL current members Mike Reilly, John David Call, Rick Schell and David Lee Clark still have the gift of (musical) gab, performing standards like “Falling in and out of Love,” “Two Lane Highway” and “I Can’t Stop the Feelin.’” While hardly resting on their laurels, the band displayed their expertise, employing the pedal steel guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddles and washboards as they chatted with the audience. “We’ve played a lot of great venues over the years,” they called out to the crowd “but playing here, at Bethel Woods, is unparalleled!”

As the crowd roared with enthusiasm, the guys riffed on Woodstock and the “disco scare that almost caught on” while reminiscing about the good old days, transforming the event gallery into a honky tonk, weaving more musical tales like “I’ll Be Damned If I Let You Break My Heart” and “Let Me Love You Tonight.” While signing everything from CDs to T-shirts and (remember vinyl?) LPs that fans had brought along, the boys laughed when I invited them to “join me down the road a piece,” at the Dancing Cat Saloon (www.dancingcatsaloon.com) after the show. I explained that local band “Yasgur” was performing, and the guys promised they would follow me there, using the title of PPL’s 2005 CD release “All in Good Time.” True to their word, the group showed up, the Cat was packed, Yasgur rocked the house and the good times continued to roll.