Loggins & Messina
Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina reunite for a tour that concludes in Hawaii
Jim Messina isn't quite sure where he is, which, he jokes, is not unlike how he felt during much of his six-year tenure with Kenny Loggins.
'Sittin' in Again'
Featuring Kenny Loggins, left, and Jim Messina, right
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Blaisdell Arena
Also: 7 p.m. Sunday at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, tickets at $45, $55 and $65
"I know we're playing a huge venue tonight and we've been traveling all day," he says from the tour bus he shares with Loggins and the band. "Now I remember: We're in Connecticut."
Nearly three decades since the pair split up, following hit after hit, Loggins and Messina are back together in the 47-city "Sittin' In Again" tour that finishes with two Hawaii concerts this weekend.
When Messina looks back on the 1970s partnership, the former Buffalo Springfield and Poco member realizes it was a union that inevitably could only have a limited life span.
The duo was "born to break up," he says. After a self-imposed exile from music to raise his son Julian (now 13) and three years of Gestalt studies, Messina figured out the partnership's core problems.
"From Kenny's perspective, when he came into Loggins and Messina, he had been expecting a solo career, but it turned out to be a duo," Messina says. "We can gather from his input that that was something he didn't want to do or was comfortable with.
"L&M was a distraction from what he had in mind, and a distraction for me from just wanting to be a producer, but having to go back and being an artist again.
"In retrospect, it was something that really needed to happen for me to fulfill what I had not in Poco and Buffalo Springfield. And it was something that needed to happen to Kenny so he could have that solo career and be the best he could be alone."
Loggins says that "the strength" of the duo "was the very thing that took it apart: our differences."
"We're two very different artistic people," Loggins said. "The stuff he likes and the stuff I like -- the directions and styles -- are not necessarily the same thing. So what the tension that worked was to synchronize those different styles into one music. But it also brought a level of tension that couldn't last for a very long time."
Loggins was, at the time, a new singer-songwriter, and the plan was Messina would produce Loggins' solo debut, but the emphasis shifted as the project began to take shape.
"Kenny mainly wrote folk songs, so I was giving him some of my songs to see if we could get more of an edge, get more rock with it, and also rearranging some of his tunes to have different flavors other than folk stuff," Messina said. "I had gotten a little more involved than I would have preferred to, and also I realized that I couldn't just send him out into the world, that I should be there, (too)."
COURTESY OF TOM MOFFATT
While Jim Messina has put on a bit of weight since the '70s, he's still rockin'.
MESSINA'S plan was to do the first album as a duo, then retreat fully into the producer role, with Loggins stepping out on his own. But when the "Kenny Loggins with JIm Messina" debut "Sittin' In" became a major success behind the hit singles "House at Pooh Corner," "Danny's Song," "Vahevala" and "Nobody But You," Messina became part and parcel of the act.
Their self-titled 1972 sophomore album included the duo's signature hit, "Your Mama Don't Dance." Two more studio albums, "Full Sail" (1973) and "Mother Lode" (1974), and a live album, each became gold or platinum-sellers before the pair decided to end their partnership with '76's "Native Sons" and a farewell tour that produced the following year's live album "Finale."
Loggins then built a highly successful solo career, with hits like "Footloose," "I'm Alright," "Whenever I Call You 'Friend' " (a duet with Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks) and "Danger Zone."
Messina's own career, however, never took off. After a brief reunion with Poco in 1989, he mostly stepped away from music. Then last year Messina, largely because of self-realizations through his Gestalt studies, decided to return to touring with a set of low-key dates.
"The studying led me to the fact that I really am a songwriter and music is what I love to do," Messina said. "I also understood the patterns in my life and discovered that I wasn't so unique. I was very much like many other people who had a choice to get well and leave a narcissistic world or continue to struggle with it."
Loggins and Messina assist separate charities in Santa Barbara, Calif., where they live, and the two eventually hooked up to play together in a church.
"It was an opportunity to spend some time together, have some fun to create some music and an opportunity for Kenny and me to sit down and do some things we wanted to do," Messina says. "The time was right and here we are."
Loggins was reluctant to get back together because of his own successful career and, he said, "I didn't want to mess with that. I was having too good a time."
BUT IN the meantime, Loggins and his wife went through a separation and divorce.
"During that time, Jimmy showed up and helped me with the benefit concert ... and reached out to me as a friend and someone who's been through it all," he said. "Suddenly I had this sense that it was the right time, that I was open to it emotionally and creatively.
"It felt like it could be fun. A few months of just going back and sort of collecting that part of myself from when I was 23 years old."
"We could now make intelligent, grown-up decisions to keep us from falling into the same trap," Messina said. "We're interacting more as friends and companions. We share the same bus, sometimes the same dressing room, and have brought our kids out to share the silliness."
This new phase in their lives has opened up other doors, including "writing songs and making some music together after the tour," Messina said.
The first half of their concert is vintage Loggins & Messina, while the second half includes a "Sittin' In" segment during which other musicians come on stage to play.
"We've put the word out for a lot of our friends in Hawaii, but we're not going to spoil the surprise," Messina said.
The tour visit has been a surprise for Messina's son, an aspiring drummer, who only knew his dad as an acoustic guitar player.
"It blew his mind that I even played the electric guitar, and after he saw the concerts, audience reactions, and read the reviews, he said 'Dad, I know what I want to do now,' " he said.
The reunion tour is at the top of Messina's musical career.
"I feel so much more comfortable than 30 years ago," he says. "Maybe it's because I have a lot of love in my life, my son, a wonderful lady, and Kenny is back."