STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
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It was 1970 when Jim Messina made the fateful decision to produce a new ABC/Dunhill songwriter with folksinger tendencies named Kenny Loggins.
“At the time, he didn’t even own a guitar,” said the Messina of the eventual hit making duo Loggins and Messina.
A seasoned recording engineer and producer, who had also experienced some success as a member of the bands Buffalo Springfield and Poco, Messina managed to set up recording equipment at his house, and put a guitar in Loggins’ hands, to get a sample of his ideas. According to Messina, Loggins played “Danny’s Song,” “House at Pooh Corner” and a never-released song called “My Love’s Gonna Tumble on You.” “I still have them (the demo recordings) some place,” he said. “I have a great sense of accomplishment … because he became a very successful solo artist, and most importantly, diversified his style.”
Their biggest hit together, Messina’s composition “Your Mama Don’t Dance,” hit the top 10 again in the ‘80s via a remake by the Bret Michaels-fronted hair band Poison. “At first, I was a little shocked. I started looking at their music, and their album and their fans. I thought: ‘This is definitely for them.’ I didn’t realize the message I was sending out in that song — oh, this is about rebellion. I was just talking about my parents not listening to the music I liked,” he said.
Scheduled to play a concert Feb. 26 at Sellersville Theater, Messina said his new booking agent informed him that there are many venues on the East Coast he hasn’t been in years. “That’s what has motivated me to play more dates. I’m at a point in my life where I don’t really like being in the studio anymore. My voice has gotten better over the years. My playing has gotten better over the years,” he said.
Messina’s career-spanning set list will be similar to his 2016 live album “In the Groove,” which is available not only in the traditional vinyl format, but also as a loaded/reusable USB flash card with folders of the songs as mp3s, and as WAV files for burning to CD, video of the concert’s encore, song lyrics, album artwork and other content.
Messina’s band for “In the Groove” featured Poco steel guitar and dobro player Rusty Young. The album revisits “Kind Woman” by Buffalo Springfield (the ‘60s band Messina was in with Stephen Stills, Neil Young and Richie Furay), “You Better Think Twice” and “Follow Your Dreams” by Poco (the band Messina was in with Furay and future Eagles members Randy Meisner and Timothy B. Schmit) and country-rock arrangements of Loggins and Messina’s “Angry Eyes,” “You Need a Man” (which Messina said he wrote for Loggins to sing in the name of changing his folksinger image) “Keep Me in Mind” and “Holiday Hotel,” as well as “Listen to a Country Song,” which became a hit for singer Lynn Anderson.
“In the digital age, where you can download, copy and rip off, one thing you can’t rip off is a great performance,” Messina commented.
Messina — who also leads songwriters performance workshops, paints watercolors and builds furniture — has set goals for himself to continue building his audience, graduate to 1,200-seat venues, find a record label home, then record new music.