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Go up the country (country-rock, that is) with Pure Prairie League

The venerable band visits The Center for Arts in Natick on June 16.

It’s difficult to keep track of how many different people have been members of Pure Prairie League since the Ohio-based band first started out in the late 1960s. It gets even trickier when you find out that some of the personnel joined, then left, then joined again.

For their June 16 concert at The Center for the Arts in Natick, there will be at least one member who’s been aboard since their first album – pedal steel man John David Call – up on the stage, joined by Mike Reilly on bass, Donnie Clark on guitar, and drummer Scott Thompson, who have been in the lineup for the past decade.

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That first self-titled album, released in 1972, introduced the country-rock sound that would be featured on all of their albums, and still makes up most of their live sets. The first album’s cover also boasted the 1927 Norman Rockwell painting “Dreams of Long Ago” – showing an old-school cowboy holding an album. Later dubbed Sad Luke, he would eventually grace every Pure Prairie League cover.

Ask any PPL fan what the group’s biggest hit was, and the answer would most probably be “Amie,” from their second album “Bustin’ Out.” Nope, that laid-back and likeable one sure got — and still gets — a lot of radio play, but it only reached #27 on the charts. Their best-selling single, and the only one to crack the Top 10, was the jazzier and poppier “Let Me Love You Tonight” (back when Vince Gill did his stint as the band’s lead singer).

They’ll certainly be playing and harmonizing on those tunes at TCAN, but here’s hoping they’ll also get around to one of their finest (non-hit) originals, “Falling In and Out of Love,” and maybe even one of their rare covers, the rollicking “That’ll Be the Day.”

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