Supergroup Cimarron 615 Journey a ‘Brand New Distance’ on Debut

Rusty Young was a constant in Poco. The legendary country rock outfit endured a lot of growth and change over its five-decade run, but the one thing that never changed was Young. When the band’s last original member passed away in early 2021, it seemed to mark the end of the long-running act. However, like with many things, the end just meant a new beginning.

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Poco’s remaining members—veteran bassist Jack Sundrud, drummer Rick Lonow, and rookie guitarist-vocalist Tom Hampton—were now adrift, left to decide the fate of the band’s legacy. But first, tribute had to be paid to their leader.

My Friend: A Tribute to Rusty Young brought Sundrud, Lonow, and Hampton together, teaming up with former Poco member Michael Webb and frequent Young collaborator Bill Lloyd to honor their mutual friend. Together, they crowned themselves Cimarron 615 for the recording—pulling from their Poco ties (“Rose of Cimarron”) and their Nashville roots (area code 615)—and contributed five songs to the tribute.

By the time the album was recorded, they were offered a record deal, and the makeshift group of ragtag legends became a band.

With all members having Poco roots, however deep or shallow, Cimarron 615 became a way for them all to carry on the Poco legacy—not in the sense of recreating the band, but instead keeping alive its diverse sound and rugged spirit. It was also a way for them to continue honoring their late friend beyond the tribute album.

A record deal meant an album was in order. A decision was made from the beginning that the five veteran artists, all seasoned songwriters, would contribute two songs each to the record, and Brand New Distance was born.

“It’s a real democratic situation,” Lloyd tells American Songwriter, saying that that approach set the stage early on for a diverse record to be made. “I think we all went into it whole-heartedly,” he continued. “I figured between all of us, we’d come up with something that we’d all be proud of and we did.”

Having multiple songwriters, Sundrud explained changed the dynamic of things. “A lot of times in a band, you’re kind of vying for getting your songs on the record and there’s an element of competition,” he explains, adding that the pressure was taken away with this album. “It really made it more fun.”

Each member brought in one song to begin with and then they went from there, looking back at the work they had done over their collective careers. With five songwriters on the album, Sundrud explains, “We each brought a bit of our own flavor to it … All of our influences get to come in there.”

Brand New Distance sees all members’ styles and skills on full display. “Michael comes from a more rock and roll background,” Sundrud shares. “I brought in some bluesy elements. Bill has this power pop thing going on that’s great. Rick is kind of a little more eclectic, but he brought in that bluegrassy tone. Then Tom is kind of a balladeer. I think all together it was just a really nice mix.”

“We got used to each other’s styles, too,” Lloyd adds. “It really feels like a band.”

The result is a marriage of their decades-worth of experiences. Brand New Distance is an album alive from start to finish, buzzing with chemistry between the players, overflowing with skill from a seasoned quintet, all the while blazing a new trail for an up-and-coming band to shine.

Each song on the album is different from the next—a nod to Poco’s impressive range —but the songwriting is unmatched and the arrangements are untouchable across all ten tracks. Full of poignant lyrics and carried by hypnotic harmonies, the album sees everything from stripped-back compositions to hard-rocking arrangements for a record that echoes the past but looks to the future.

Unsure of what exactly that holds for the band, Sundrud said, “We’re all just taking it one step at a time.”

“Even though we’re all veterans,” Lloyd added, “it’s a baby band. We’re right at the beginning of this thing.” The pair joked with Lloyd saying they’ll happily play your next backyard party. Sundrud rebutted, saying they’ll start booking some stadiums soon. For now, the band’s business card reads both: for backyard parties and stadiums. But wherever they’re headed, it’ll be a journey to a Brand New Distance.

Cimarron 615’s debut album is out now.

Photo by Jeff Fasano / Courtesy of Jensen Communications, Inc.

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