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Fogerty at DeSalvo's in Chicago [1988]

 

by David Joens

For a Chicago based John Fogerty fan, it was a dream come true. Fogerty, backed by a power-house Chicago blues band, performing in a small blues bar where the beer was cheap. The event happened recently at DeSalvo's Bar on the week-end of Feb. 19 and 20, 1988.

An ad in the paper had said that Duke Tumatoe and the Power Trio would be recording a live album at DeSalvo's, a near west side bar in the warehouse section of Chicago. You know, by the meat packing plant. Placed near the bottom of the ad was the line, "Produced by John Fogerty."

On Friday, the 19th, a crowd of over 350 appeared at DeSalvo's, which has a legal seating capacity of 213. Many in the audience were hoping for an appearance by Fogerty.

That's not to short change Duke or the Power Trio. Long a staple on the Midwestern college and bar circuit, this all-white blues band knows how to put on an invigorating show, with a combination of original songs and blues standards. Fogerty caught their act last year and was so impressed that he offered to produce an album for them.

At DeSalvo's, Fogerty's faith in the band was proven. Duke performed a screaming version of "Kansas City," and led the audience in sing-a-longs "Sweet Home Chicago," "Hand Jive," and "If I hadn't Been High."

Fogerty sat through the show in the back at a small table with an unidentified, mid-thirties blonde companion. For the most part, he was left undisturbed by the audience, although a few well-wishers, including myself, went up to him.

He seemed a little distracted that night and wasn't especially in the mood to be bothered. Still, my sister got his autograph and I asked him a few questions.

Fogerty said he'll probably be touring this year and when I asked if he was coming out with an album soon, he said he certainly hoped to have one out this year as well. I recently purchased the unreleased "HooDoo" album and, because it now ranks as my favorite album, behind "Bayou Country," I asked if there was any chance he'd release it. He looked at me like I was nuts, or maybe he just didn't understand the question and didn't really respond.

Anyway, after Duke performed a short third set, he asked if he could bring out a friend of his, who was a "pretty good guitarist." The highly charge audience, which in numbers was probably down to less than 100, roared its approval as Fogerty made his way to the stage.

What followed was one of the hottest sets of music that Chicago, home of great music, has ever seen. Fogerty and the band broke into a really incredible version of Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally," which brought the crowd to its feet. That song is tailor-made to Fogerty's voice. Duke followed that song with a rocking version of 'Booglaoo on Broadway." Then Fogerty, whom Duke described as a "most peculiar fellow," responded with the
stuff legends are made of.

He started with Born on the Bayou" and followed with "Rock and Roll Girls," a killer one-two punch if there ever was one. Fogerty replaced the sax solo on the latter song with lead guitar, playing in his restrained, concise way. Bo Didley's "Before You Accuse Me," which Creedence did on their "Cosmo's Factory" album, came next, with the Power Trio doing some really nice bluesy background vocals.

Request night followed, with the band performing whatever the crowd asked for. Three classics rolled in a row; "Bad Moon Rising," "Proud Mary," and "Centerfield."

Fogerty really didn't want to do "Proud Mary," saying he hadn't performed at a wedding in 15 years. Duke said he had never performed at a wedding and he also joked about Fogerty's marital problems. Still, Fogerty and the band did "Proud Mary," although I though Fogerty was a little half-hearted. The crowd, unsophisticated as Fogerty fans, enjoyed it. Duke also had to persuade Fogerty to do "Centerfield.," reminding him that the royalties for that song went to Fogerty and not to his former record producer (Saul Zaentz). The Power Trio really didn't know the song, however, they did a credible version of it.

Fogerty then sang another blues song, "High Heels," which, like "Long Tall Sally," is tailor made to his voice. Duke then closed the set with, "You Don't Have To Go Home (But You Gotta Get The Hell Outta Here.)" Fogerty, ever the polite guest, sat back from his guitar playing at one point and admired Duke's guitar handiwork, asking the audience how Duke did it.

The ten-song set ended at 3 a.m., an hour after DeSalvo's legal closing time.

The next night was a different affair. Duke again put on a rousing show; however, Fogerty was nowhere to be seen. At one point, however, Duke urged the crowd to make more noise, because if they didn't, his producer might not be happy and wouldn't play for the crowd. Still Fogerty made an appearance during Duke's third set.

To put it as simply as possible, Fogerty appeared to be wasted. He stumbled to the stage, passing my table. When my brother reached out and shook his hand, Fogerty nearly fell down. On stage, a stream of profanity, the type one hears from a drunken sailor, spewed from his mouth.

Fogerty again led off with "Long Tall Sally," but if the night before he had done a historic version of the song this night he did a horrible version. His voice was completely off key and his guitar playing was also not very good. Duke then performed "Boogaloo On Broadway" again, and Fogerty's guitar picked up a bit.

However, he then performed the most embarrassing version of "Born on the Bayou" imaginable. Again singing out of key, Fogerty began mixing up the verses. It was so bad that in the final verse, a confused Fogerty sang a line from each of the three verses, finally mumbling rather incoherently by the finish of the verse. He then played guitar for one more Duke song, and stumbled off the stage to let Duke finish the set.

I hate to report how disappointed I was in the second night's show. But, we are all John Fogerty fans and I think you all should know, as members of his fan club, exactly what happened during one of his performances.

Too, let's not forget the first night's show, which was rock and roll history. Before a small, small crowd in a hot,sweaty bar, one of the legends of rock and roll performed with a relatively unknown band and rocked the roof off. That was and is the Fogerty performance that I will always remember.

As far as Duke Tumatoe, I can't picture the album, or any album or recording, catching the fever pitch of a Chicago blues bar. But, if any album comes close, I hope it is the Duke's. I also hope that a Fogerty tune is included on it.

Reprinted from Peter Koers CCR Fan Club Letter by permission of the author.

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