Monday, June 06, 2005

The Summer Tour

It's time to head back out on the road for what should be an interesting summer tour, with John Fogerty opening for headliner John Mellencamp. Similar rootsy music, but Fogerty clearly has the edge in singing, songwriting and musicianship - the three things I value in a performer - though Mellencamp has some pretty great tunes, too. JF likes to have a guitar hook begin most of his classic songs, a technique that Mellencamp incorporates on many of his hits as well.

But those hooks! A CCR or solo tune from Fogerty is instantly recognizable. He seems to come by naturally what all guitarists strive for - the quality that guitar legend Les Paul quizzically described as "can your mother recognize you on the radio?". A distinct and complete style of playing that blends Bakersfield twang with tremulous Duane Eddy licks, rapid-fire Chuck Berry riffing and Freddie King phrasing all dipped into swampy reverb.

The very sound of those singles somehow reminds me of a kid looking out a car window on a family camping trip and seeing a strange and slightly scary hoodoo shack. Sure, it's probably just a shack, but maybe there's something deeper and weirder going on inside. You can smell the decaying vegetation. You can taste the humidity. You hear mournful music filtered through crumpled tin and rough-hewn wood.

I remember staring at the album covers of CCR from my older brother's collection. Long hair and beards and plaid flannel shirts and perfect sub-three minute singles that remain timeless. What a treat to hear them live from the source every night.

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