It was 1992, and I was on a bus tour heading from Modesto, Calif.. north on I-5 when we went through the town of Lodi, Calif.
I looked out the windows of the tour bus and, to no one in particular on the bus, I started singing the song Lodi, by Creedence Clearwater Revival, my all-time personal CCR fave.
Some people thought I was making the lyrics up as we went through the sleepy northern California town. I just laughed and said, “No, just singing along to John Fogerty,” the CCR founder and lead singer who wrote the song.
Thursday night, I got to sing it again with Fogerty playing along, approximately 20 feet in front of me, at the Motoplex Speedway in Spallumcheen.
As I said to Rona, the media relations co-ordinator for Fogerty’s appearance, as Fogerty belted out Lodi, I can die a happy man now.
The 66-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member delivered an amazing two-hour show in front of an older, appreciative crowd of nearly 4,000 at the speedway.
Looking and sounding great at 66, Fogerty opened his show with six consecutive songs from the CCR catelogue: Hey Tonight; Green River; Who’ll Stop The Rain (a song he wrote after attending Woodstock where it rained most of the weekend, and everybody at the speedway was glad Thursday afternoon’s downpour and early evening rain stopped by showtime); Lookin’ Out My Back Door; Lodi; and Born On The Bayou.
Backed by a killer five-piece band, which included arguably the best drummer in the world, Kenny Aronoff, who helped set the beat for the night, Fogerty then broke into some of his solo artist songs, like Gunslinger and Don’t You Wish It Was True.
Engaging the crowd with a story about his young daughter, Kelsey, Fogerty was interrupted by a fan who wanted to wish his girlfriend a happy birthday. Fogerty obliged, and continued on with his story about how his little girl is a rainbow in his life, then broke into the CCR classic Have You Ever Seen The Rain, much to the delight of the crowd.
Next, it was a dynamite cover of Roy Orbison’s Oh Pretty Woman before breaking into another CCR oldie, Keep On Chooglin’, with Fogerty showing his talent with an awesome harmonica riff.
He finished the night with a mix of CCR and solo hits, the last five being Down On The Corner, Good Golly Miss Molly, Bad Moon Rising (which brought about the loudest cheer of the night) and Fortunate Son. Fogerty’s two encores were Up Around the Bend and Proud Mary.
If there was a smidge – and I mean so small you need a microscope to see it – of disappointment, it was that Fogerty did not do his biggest solo hit, Centerfield. Nor did he do CCR staples such as Suzie Q, Cotton Fields, Travellin’ Band and I Heard It Through The Grapevine.
But I don’t care, and I doubt a vast majority of the crowd cared.
We saw a rock and roll legend, an icon who, for years, did not play any CCR songs, hurt by ongoing disputes with CCR band members and record companies. What we saw on Thursday was a man having a great time, sounding fantastic and playing his music, songs that have lasted nearly 40 years and have resonated with millions.
Setting the tone for the evening was Canadian rocker Colin James, a man who, every time I see him – and Thursday was the third time – looks like he’s enjoying himself more and more each time he takes the stage.
Helped out by a four-piece band, James delivered an hour-long set with a mixture of heavy rock, jazz, blues and his stunning version of the Van Morrison hit Into The Mystic.
James got the crowd into a party mood with such favourites as Five Long Years and Voodoo Thing.
The rain stopped and, with a nearly full moon rising, the North Okanagan was treated to a fine night of fabulous music.