january 2009

Chooglin' In '09

John Fogerty Returns With A Chronicle On DVD, A New Blue Ridge Rangers On CD

John Fogerty: Watch closely, and listen up

Take heart, you legions of roots rock 'n' roll fans who know there can never be enough John Fogerty music in the world: in 2009 Fogerty will keep on chooglin' with new projects on both DVD and CD

As per the latter, do the name Blue Ridge Rangers ring a bell? The first post-Creedence album in Fogerty's distinguished career, with which he extended his juggernaut of timeless hit singles with "Jambalaya" and "Hearts of Stone"? No one-off wonders they, the BRR are ending a 36-year hiatus with a new album, John Fogerty: Return Of the Blue Ridge Rangers. Moreover, all the original BRR members are back in the fold, a fairly easy undertaking since Fogerty himself was the lone member of his one-man band back then. This time around, in sessions at Village Recorders in Los Angeles, Fogerty has expanded the lineup to include Buddy Miller, Dennis Crouch, Jay Bellerose, Greg Leisz, Jason Mowery, Jodie Kennedy, Kenny Aronoff and Hunter Perrin. (For the mathematically challenged, that's eight musicians helping Fogerty do what he did all by himself in 1973.) In the studio, Fogerty worked with fellow producers T Bone Burnett and Lenny Waronker.

"This seems like the right time for the Blue Ridge Rangers to come back," Fogerty said in a prepared statement. "The last time around, it represented something of a clean slate for me and that country rock sound is still something I hold dear. We're really excited about revisiting the whole sensibility that Blue Ridge Rangers represent."

The DVD project should be a real treat for Fogerty fans, as it amounts to a retrospective of his monumental career and a reflection on the personal journey that took him from El Cerrito, CA, to the pantheon of American rock 'n' roll.

Produced by digital technology pioneer George Johnsen (Babylon 5, Star Trek Borg Invasion), the documentary, titled John Fogerty—Comin' Down the Road, uses Fogerty's June 24, 2008 concert at London's Royal Albert Hall as a point of departure. That performance, marking his return to the venue after having last performed there 37 years earlier, was the culmination of a lengthy European tour. The tribulations that befell the journey that took him from the first Albert Hall concert to this summer's return could not have been foreseen by the rock legend back in 1971, but the upshot of all the tumult in his professional life was a deep fear that he might lose his muse, never write another song. To say he got over it would be an understatement, given his recent, stellar work.

The concert was filmed by director Ted Kenney (U2 3D) as a 12-camera HD shoot and highlights songs from throughout Fogerty's life in music, from the Creedence classics to his solid body of work as a solo artist, up to and including "Creedence Song" from his recent Grammy-nominated Revival album. Backing musicians include Kenny Aronoff (drums), Billy Burnette (guitar), Hunter Perrin (guitar), Jason Mowery (fiddle) and Dave Santos (bass). Fogerty's teen-aged sons, Tyler (15) and Shane (16), also join the band on guitar during the course of the concert.

The film offers a look back over the years between Fogerty's Royal Albert Hall performances and chronicles the artist's struggles in confronting a plethora of legal, financial and business issues that sidetracked his brilliant career. It documents his ultimate triumph over adversity, when he found comfort in family life and vindication as an artist and creative force. It examines a creative journey that was frequently stalled by various business disputes, including the legal action wherein he was sued for plagiarizing himself and was ultimately vindicated in a precedent setting case from which his fellow artists have benefited.

Much more than a concert film, Comin' Down The Road tells the story of Fogerty's personal "revival" that is the culmination of a life-long journey. Highlights include Fogerty's recollections prompted by visits to his childhood homes in El Cerrito, CA, a visit to the site of "Cosmos Factory," the storied rehearsal facility and studio that begat his hits for Creedence Clearwater Revival, and a location shoot at the headquarters of Fantasy Records in Berkeley where his recording career began in earnest with Creedence, nee The Golliwogs. He provides insight into the creation of his signature songs, including a trip to the location that inspired "Green River."

Specific release dates for both the DVD and the new album will be announced soon.

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (www.johnmendelsohn.com)
Website Design: Kieran McGee (www.kieranmcgee.com)
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY; www.flickr.com/audreyharrod), Alicia Zappier (New York)
E-mail: thebluegrassspecial@gmail.com
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024