John Ford Coley coming to the Capital City

John Ford Coley in concert - Photo courtesy of John Ford Coley
John Ford Coley in concert - Photo courtesy of John Ford Coley

Pop legend John Ford Coley will be performing live on September 24, in Montgomery at the Eastside Grille patio.

The concert will be held in an intimate setting, giving Coley an opportunity to connect with fans as he plays his catalog of hit songs.

Coley (born John Edward Colley) is a Grammy nominated platinum and gold award winning recording artist. He was a part of the pop rock duo England Dan & John Ford Coley (with the late Dan Seals) from 1970 until 1980.

The pair had four number one hits and eleven Top 40 tunes to include “Love is the Answer,” “Sad to Belong,” “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight,” “Nights are Forever Without You,” “We’ll Never Have to Say Goodbye Again,” and many more.

Coley tours around the country singing many of the duo’s hits and other favorite songs. In between extensive road duty, Coley lives in the Nashville area with his family, where he’s penned a book entitled Backstage Pass, based on his years in the music industry.

Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): Hi John, tell us about your recent tours.

John Ford Coley: It seems like I still get to travel all over and I’m very happy about it. I just came back from the Philippines a couple of weeks ago where I played with the groups America and Ambrosia. About a month before that I was back in the Philippines and in Hong Kong (right in the middle of the Swine Flu scare) for about a month.

And then I literally went from one coast to the other including Charlotte, North Carolina, Denver, Colorado, Salt Lake City, Utah, and San Francisco, California. I was in St. Maarten with Ambrosia and Terry Sylvester (formerly of the Hollies) for about a week in April and really liked that trip.

Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): You had previously recorded a live CD in the Philippines, correct?

John Ford Coley: Yes, the CD was recorded in October of 2007 in Manila. The sound guy just decided to record it and since I always have fun playing in the Philippines it’s pretty much a reflection of the time I spend there. They really love the songs that Dan and I recorded and what’s fun is that they know all of the lyrics and love to sing along. I encourage them even further.

So, it includes the bigger hits and a couple of songs like “Make it With You,” by Bread in honor of my friend, James Griffin, the co-founder and lead guitar player of Bread. Jimmy passed away a couple of years ago. I had been in a musical group with him and Terry Sylvester.

Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): The Philippines is a long way from your home in Nashville. Does your family travel with you?

John Ford Coley: Oh, it’s really not that far away. It’s about 4+ hours to L. A. or San Francisco where I fly out. Then there is another 17 hours to Manila with a stopover in Guam. Come to think of it, that is a long way away.

But, I get to sleep and read a lot on planes. Fortunately, I was an English Literature student when I went to college; therefore, it’s good for me since I do like to read. I think my backpack with all the books I carry is actually heavier than my luggage.

My family doesn’t travel with me unless it’s short trips and we can go by car for a weekend. The kids are still in school, but they do love jumping in the car and heading out. It’s got to be in your blood. Fortunately, it’s in theirs as well.

Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): Are you producing other artists or just strictly touring right now?

John Ford Coley: I’m generally doing both. I had produced a friend of mine, great country artist named Tom Wurth. He’s just released his CD called “If The Road Runs Out,” which is on his website. That was a cut he had written for Ty Herndon a couple of years ago.

Tom and I also produced several sides on rocker Eddie Money. We took some of his older hits and gave them a more country feel. Vince Gill came in and sang on a couple of the songs with us. It’s really quite a thrill getting artists of that caliber together in the studio. We did have a fun time.

I’m about to go into the studio shortly and record my first ever solo CD and I’m getting excited about it. I’d had a collection of songs over the years that when I play them live, people ask where they can get them. I had just never put them on disc before.

We thought that since I’ve played so much as an acoustic act for the last couple of years, we’d make it more of an acoustic CD; somewhere between a James Taylor and Dan Fogelberg approach. I really love the freedom of playing acoustic.

Over the last decade, I’ve been touring quite a lot. Fortunately, I do love to play. I’ve never gotten tired of it and even if it’s the same song I’ve played for 30 years, there’s always something fresh about it each night.

Besides, now I generally get to spend a little time in the town I’m playing in so I get to see the history of it. Before, we would hit the town, see the airport, see the hotel, see the arena, eat at the Denny’s after the show, see the hotel, and see the airport again as we fly off to the next destination. I usually only saw the town as we drove from point A to point B. I like this better now… and the audience generally brings cakes, cookies, and pies, so I’m continually stuffing my face.

Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): Is your book, Backstage Pass, available now?

John Ford Coley: Yes it is. It’s only been available for a couple of weeks and I’m very happy with the responses I’ve gotten. People seem to think it’s funny, which is what it’s supposed to be. I’ve put it up on my website, and it should be found soon on Amazon.

I originally thought I would only have about 20 pages and a story here and there, but 200+ pages later, I soon found that I had to even omit some stories. The book is about the humorous experiences I’ve had over the years, happenings that still amaze me, many of the bands I’ve traveled with, and the entertainment people I’ve met.

I’m a Southern boy, and have always loved listening to stories growing up. So, it has been fun for me to actually get a chance to tell stories.

Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): Are you traveling on tour with a full band?

John Ford Coley: It’s always mixed, depending on what the promoter at the venue I’m playing wants. I personally love to just grab an acoustic guitar or keyboard and play something. I call it “Playing in the Raw.” If you’re on stage alone and mess up a song, the audience doesn’t have to have an IQ of 186 to know who messed up. You’re really out front. It’s a challenge.

I also enjoy playing with a band. You can play more solos and play an even greater variety of material. At the Montgomery date, I’m playing with a band this time. Most of the time when I play with other band like Ambrosia or Orleans, I generally only get to play four or five songs… just the biggest hits. This time, it’s just me, so we can get to play as many songs as we can.

Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): You’ve previously had concerts in Montgomery. What do you like about the city?

John Ford Coley: Yes, I’ve been blessed to play in Montgomery several times. I’ve played in the park and had to time my songs with the trains coming by the station and loudly blowing the whistle. I’ve been to see the Biscuits play in the baseball stadium. I’ve played at the Hank Williams Museum with Georgia Middleman and Byron Hill, which I really enjoyed because I’m a big museum geek.

I am also a history freak. I love the character of Montgomery. Because of all of the historical markers, I know what happened when and where, who stood at what spot, and believe that some of my family members (before they moved from the area long ago) might have been involved in some way.

Standing on the Capitol steps and looking out over the town gives me quite a wonderful sensation. I can stand there for hours reflecting upon all of the historical events that have occurred in the city.

I actually came through last year from a gig in Point clear and spent the day in the city just looking around. Let’s just say that now I don’t get lost in downtown Montgomery anymore and I’ve figured out the one-way streets. I’m looking forward to coming back.

Tickets to see John Ford Coley live at the Eastside Grille in Montgomery are on sale now at Eastside Grille, 6667 Atlanta Highway, Montgomery, Alabama, (334) 274-1200.

VIP table for 6, meet/greet with John pre-show, $150; reserved seating with meet/greet $25 for front row; reserved seating in advance $15; reserved seating day of concert $20; reserved bar seats $20.

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Article by Melissa Parker

© 2009 Our Prattville. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the express written consent of the publisher.

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