Laughter floats as gently among the members of Blue Sky Riders as cottonball clouds in a summer sky. Though their band is relatively new, the trio tease and jest with the ease of longtime friends. It's a harmony as perfected as the ones in their music.

"All three of our voices go wherever (the music) needs to go," says singer and guitarist Georgia Middleman. "So we all do really different things from song to song."

There's no frontman for Blue Sky Riders; the country-themed group shuffles leads and harmonies without the anchor of a single face and voice.

"I think it's the ideal," says Kenny Loggins, another of the band's vocalist/guitarist double threats.

Yes, the Kenny Loggins, he of the rock hits and movie soundtracks and Grammy Awards.

"People expected my project to be a 'Kenny and the ...' and we purposely didn't do that because it isn't that musically," he explains. "It isn't about diminishing any one of us -- it's about each of us being at the top of our game."

The "Blue Sky" portion of the name came from an idea Middleman and vocalist/guitarist Gary Burr were tossing around.

"We needed something edgy to put at the end of that," Middleman says.

Enter the dog.

"When Kenny was in Detroit, he fell in love with a dog and wanted to name it something Detroit-like and he thought (soul blues rocker) Mitch Ryder would be great," she says.

Collaboration: And so Blue Sky Riders was born. For a band just hitting its toddler years, it boasts decades of experience. The combination of wisdom and youthful energy keeps the sound fresh, the members say.

Blue Sky Riders
Kenny Loggins will be a member of his own opening act Thursday, Sept. 12, at the Strand-Capitol in York. The Blue Sky Riders -- Loggins, Georgia Middleman and Gary Burr -- will kick the show off with harmony. (blueskyridersband.com)

"You can hear a little bit of each of us, but we like to say that when we write, there's a fourth person in the room, and that's Blue Sky Riders," Loggins says. "The music that we're writing is an evolution of what any one of us would do."

All three members are skilled songwriters who bring pieces to the table.

"I feel like all the writing I've done with various people have been the stepping stones that have led me to this," Burr says. "I'm prouder of this than any of that stuff."

"That stuff," by the way, includes nearly three decades of writing songs for country stars like Tim McGraw, Reba McEntire and LeAnn Rimes. For Blue Sky Riders, though, collaboration is the name of the songwriting game.

"We do everything together," Middleman says. "We make a plan to meet and we sit in the room. One of us may have a starting point to jump off of and we just go."

"We didn't want to be one of those bands where I bring in a song and teach it to them," Burr adds. "We wanted it to be brand-new material with the three of us staring at each other over a bottle of Jack Daniel's." He laughs, and Middleman and Loggins join in the joke.

Playing live: The band's first full-length album, "Finally Home," debuted this year. Much as the group loved recording their tunes, they also appreciate that being a guitar-based band makes stage shows a joy rather than fretting about how to reconfigure the songs for a live performance.

"It's great to have new material that I love playing," Loggins says. "It's really fun to get up and play these songs live and have them sound great live, sometimes even better live than on the record."

For the concert at the Strand-Capitol in York, all of that enthusiasm is just the warm-up. After opening with Blue Sky Riders, Loggins still has his full headlining performance to deliver.

"It's so comfortable," he says. "My own gig is many years of refining it into what it is -- still the same groove, still the same melody, but a lot of sections that have evolved over time."

Middleman admits to a bit of fangirling during the show.

"I sit in the audience after our set ... and it's weird because you get to see all these iconic performances, you get to see every era for him," she says. "He's working double hard to do this every night (and) as a fan I get to enjoy it."

See the show


Singer-songwriter and guitarist Kenny Loggins will deliver a concert featuring decades of hits at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St., York.

He'll open the night with his new band, Blue Sky Riders, featuring fellow singer-songwriters and guitarists Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman.

The show will mix country with rock and jazz for a wide-ranging musical experience.

Tickets are $59-$74.

For more information, call (717) 846-1111 or visit www.mystrandcapitol.org.

For more about the Blue Sky Riders, visit www.blueskyridersband.com.

-- Reach Mel Barber at mbarber@yorkdispatch.com.