John Fogerty “Choogles” At Cipriani Wall Street During The Samuel Waxman Foundation’s Collaborating For A Cure Gala
By Anne Raso
This was my third time seeing John Fogerty live and interestingly enough, I have seen him in three very diversified New York settings: at the outdoor venue Jones Beach about 12 years ago, at the Beacon Theater about four years ago and just last week at the luxurious private club setting of Cipriani Wall Street in front of a crowd of socialites and successful businessman in a fundraiser for the Samuel Waxman Foundation (a cancer research fund). Each of these three shows provided two hours of non-stop hits for audiences who appreciate this great American treasure and while the three crowds were very different background-wise, everyone in the audience knew all the words to the songs (whether they were 17 or 67)!
Fogerty doesn’t age and has kind of made the blue plaid shirt a fashion statement in rock (long before Kurt Cobain wore one). As a matter of fact, he donated a “meet and greet “as part of the live auction for the Samuel Waxman Foundation. The guy who won it for a cool ten grand—who told me he only wanted to be identified as “Chris X” in print—actually got a plaid shirt thrown in the deal. Fogerty spent over 15 minutes chatting with Chris X and his Wall Street pals and even signed the shirt to “Uncle Bob” as per the winner’s request. (Fogerty did confirm with me that the shirt did not actually belong to him and that it was a doppelganger of one of his shirts!)
The superstar was gracious with his time even though he was due to hit the stage very shortly, and even posed for shots in front of a step and repeat. I was lucky in that I was sitting upstairs with only a couple other journalists, Fogerty’s lovely wife Julie and his nephew Bob Fogerty who seems to have done road management for well over 20 years now. I got a bird eye’s view of the stage, the set list, the monitor and the well-heeled crowd.
Truth be told, the 1969 Tour that he is now on is a look at the past—which coincides with the release of Fogerty’s excellent autobiography, Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music, which covers not only the singer/guitarist/songwriter’s early life, but his coming out of the army in 1968 to form Creedence and take them to massive heights (only to have problems in 1972 that were the result of a terrible contract with a corrupt record exec at Fantasy Records). Fogerty talks about the acrimonious split of the band (which resulted in not talking to his brother and bandmate Tom until he was on his deathbed in late 1990, dying of AIDS that was the result of a bad blood transfusion) and finally being able to have creative and financial freedom as an artist. There are funny road stories along the way—to me, at least, the highlight of every great rock autobiography.
OK, so back to the Cipriani show. Let me say that the acoustics are insane in this place because it is a converted old bank building with 70-foot ceilings and monolithic columns. There were about 750 people in attendance and everyone got on their feet (even if they had high heels on) once Fogerty and the band took the stage. He played many Creedence hits but could get to them all. It was amazing to realize how much great music this man was responsible for both as a solo artist and member of Creedence. The set included “The Old Man Down The Road,” “Centerfield,” “Have You Ever Seen The Rain,” “Fortunate Son,” “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” “Hey Tonight,” “Born On The Bayou,” ”Keep On Chooglin’,” “Travelin’ Band,” “I Heart It Through The Grapevine” and “Sweet Hitchiker.” ““Proud Mary” was saved until the end and it got the yuppies to literally loosen up their ties, which is saying a lot at a very “buttoned up” black tie function.
The real beauty of John Fogerty live is not just being mesmerized by the timelessness of his songwriting but the fact that he is an underrated guitar player. Nearly every song gets beautiful extended guitar solos, which are generally not on the original records. He also owns some beautiful guitars and switches them often—he has a blue plaid Les Paul that matches his most famous shirt, which got the crowd grinning. There is barely any chatter between songs at a Fogerty show—it’s all meat and no filler. I will be going back for more “chooglin’” as soon as I can!
Photo courtesy Lawlor Media/Craig Barritt/Getty Images