Jim Messina to play new music, old hits at Standing Sun

By Raiza Giorgi

In a time when the Civil Rights, Women’s Liberation and Vietnam War protest movements were all heavy topics in American culture, popular music was one of the things that brought people together.

The rock ’n’ roll genre was in transition, and Jim Messina wanted his music to be a source of hope and positive thinking.

“Crosby, Stills and Nash were very vocal about their political views and I love them for that, but I wanted to be heartfelt and humorous,” Messina said.

His fans will get an opportunity to hear a chronological set list when he plays two shows at Standing Sun LIVE in Buellton on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 7-8. The audience will hear songs from his time in Buffalo Springfield, Poco, and Loggins and Messina, as well as from his solo albums and everything in between.

“I am really excited for this show because it will be intimate and I will be presenting work from my new album ‘In the Groove’,” he said.

Messina was born in California but after his parents divorced when he was young, he split this time between his father in California and mother in Texas. His father taught him to play guitar at 6 years old and he hasn’t stopped since.

“I knew I wanted to be a musician and loved spending my time listening to The Champs (“Tequila,” 1958), Freddy King, The Torques, Merle Travis, Chet Atkins, among some. I had the best of both rock and country,” he said.

Messina became an assistant to a studio engineer at Sunset Sound where some not-yet-famous musicians got their starts, including The Doors, Lee Michaels, and the up-and-coming Buffalo Springfield.

Before being asked to play bass with them, Jim Messina produced albums for Buffalo Springfield.

“I had never heard Buffalo Springfield play live. I just produced their albums, but then they asked me to play bass in their final album and I got my first shot playing with them. I tell you, that was an incredible time. I remember playing places like Whiskey A-Go-Go and people just screaming while we played. It was intense as we slipped out the back door and people were ripping fringe off my jacket as I got into my car,” Messina recalled.

Buffalo Springfield was a group of folk rock musicians including Steven Stills, Richie Furay, Neil Young, Bruce Palmer, Dewey Martin — and Messina for their final album.

After the band broke up, Messina, Furay and Rusty Young started Poco, which mixed country with rock ’n’ roll — thus beginning the country rock genre, even though he stayed with Poco for only two years.

“Poco is still going. I just left, that’s all. Richie was the primary songwriter and I wanted to challenge myself elsewhere, and our musical interests just changed,” Messina said.

Messina helped train a new bassist, and Clive Davis signed Messina to an independent contract. His first project was with Kenny Loggins, and he intended to stay with Loggins only until the newcomer felt comfortable, Messina laughed.

“I thought it would be a short project, and then nine albums later we parted ways,” Messina said.

“I thought it would be a short project” when he was paired with young Kenny Loggins, Messina said, “and then nine albums later we parted ways.”

Loggins and Messina wrote iconic music including “Danny’s Song,” “House at Pooh Corner,” “Your Mama Don’t Dance,” and “Watching the River Run.” They parted ways in 1976 after seven years of making music together.

Messina went on to produce several solo albums and reunited with Poco to make an album called “Legacy” in 1989.

Messina was living in Los Angeles and decided he wanted to escape the Hollywood life with his son, so they moved to Montecito. When his son entered Laguna Blanca he met the music teacher there, Michaela Laza (now Messina). She was an opera singer who had come to Santa Barbara to teach and be close to Los Angeles to perform.

“I had been driving through the Santa Ynez Valley since forever. I would stop here because it reminded me of the old rural mining towns that I loved as a kid. I bought our place in the valley in late 1998, and living here has been a dream. The people are friendly, there’s a sense of community, and my kids have grown up in a small town where we watch out for each other,” Messina said.

The chance to play at Standing Sun came about as Messina wanted an intimate venue where people could take in the music.

“I’ve been to Standing Sun to see shows and I really love the atmosphere,” he said.

For tickets to the shows, which start at $68 each, log onto www.standingsunwines.com and click the Music link. Standing Sun is at 92 Second St. in Buellton, east of the Avenue of Flags.

For more information or to buy Messina’s new album, log onto www.jimmessina.com.