June 20, 2014 | by Mark McDonald
Jackpot! Double Jackpot! – But Not Like You Think

John Fogerty and 3” Rain Make for Memorable Night

By Mark S. McDonald
Editor, sportsandoutdoors.guru

DUST DEVIL, Texas — It’s not often that a rock-and-roll icon comes to town. For timeless John Fogerty to show up, on the same improbable night it rains in West Texas … Jackpot! Double jackpot!

Load up on lottery tickets, Mabel. Pack my overalls. We’re going to Vegas!

Forgive the giddy spill-over, but here in the Permian Basin, halfway between Fort Worth and El Paso, we hopeless optimists cling to a stubborn existence, leaning into dust storms and looking to the heavens during drought. In this nondescript land, big league acts fly over us on their way to L.A., so marquee entertainment can be sparse, while we survive on our wits and your need for energy. {Counseling and therapy helps, too.}

So here was John Fogerty – songwriter, lead vocalist and master guitarist – from the original cast of Creedence Clearwater Revival, the guy I had been wanting to see in concert since the late 1960s. {insert wisecrack here} Forever in blue jeans, topped with familiar blue plaid shirt rolled up to the elbows, Fogerty might be the best guitar player you ever heard.

At age 69, as he proved the night of June 18, he still very much the entertainer, skipping around the stage with Mick Jagger’s energy but more talent, and a raging rhythm of a man half his age.

It’s a simple quintet: Three other guitars, including son, Shane, plus a dynamic keyboard Bob Malone and drummer Kenny Aronoff, who just might be the best on the globe, having worked behind Smashing Pumpkins, the Stones, Paul McCartney and John Melencamp. These guys command the audience with a powerful, honest set list, and deliver the goods.

Iconic old-school rocker and R&B fixture, John C. Fogerty recently lit up West Texas.

Iconic old-school rocker and R&B fixture, John C. Fogerty recently lit up West Texas.

“Down on the corner, out in the street”

“Willie and the poor boys are playin’”

“I see a bad moon risin,

“I see trouble on the way’”

“Born on the bayou”

“Who’ll stop the rain?”

Or my all-time baseball anthem: “Put me in Coach, I’m ready to play – today.”

One hour, 55 minutes, for those of you scoring at home … Two hours of non-stop, raw musical meat that had an Ector County Coliseum crowd of 4,000 on its feet. Which was not always a pretty sight:

Middle-aged women, beers raised to their memories, dancing with each other, their jiggling arm flab creating an indoor breeze all its own … A Viet Nam vet standing in the aisle on stiff legs, white beard down to his chest, his bald head bobbing, wrists tumbling over each other in spastic circles. Was that The Monkey? Or the Cool Jerk? Not sure. But the poor guy needs to lay off the electric shock treatments.

All in harmless fun, of course, as Fogerty, long past the ugly public break-off with CCR and “in a happier place now,” drew on an endless supply of material that never gets dusty. On the heels of all that kick-ass rock, his more recent work – “Mystic Highway” and “Hot Rod Heart” – drew equal and mounting praise from a crowd that fed off Fogerty, and vice-versa.

AAA-you!”

Fogerty shouts, waving to the audience with a one-syllable salute that sounds like a grateful sneeze. This we recognize as California clip for “thank y’all.” Can this man keep touring, driving even the driven Aronoff to pursue the art? To care this much?

This much we know for sure. Fogerty still writes from the soul and punishes guitars, both acoustic and electric, to create a backbeat and a soul detectable from the first notes. Fogerty music is Niagara Falls. It cannot be ignored.

After all these years, decades really, a Fogerty concert is like going to a homecoming game, with your alma mater coming out on top. And to walk out of the arena, to see wet pavement, to inhale fresh, clean air that Bejing would go to war over, it was one glorious evening.

In West Texas, a rain gauge is standard equipment for the eternal optimist. In this case, it shows proof positive that, yes, it does rain. Just not much, and not often.

In West Texas, a rain gauge is standard equipment for the eternal optimist. In this case, it shows proof positive that, yes, it does rain. Just not much, and not often.

Next morning, my rinky-dink rain gauge here at McDonald Manor showed 3 inches of liquid gold. It’s unofficial precip, but in this parched country, we’ve been on water rationing since Kim Kardashian broke in her first training bra. We received 8 inches all of 2013, so we’re the IRS of rain. We’ll take all we can get, when we can get it.

You could feel the joy in the thirsty earth, desert plants saluting the morning sun, trees sighing with relief. Today, might be the first day of our next drought, but morning coffee never tasted so good. Ahhh, smell that? Rain, blessed rain.

There are plenty of reasons to live in West Texas, and typically rock and rain are not among them. For one night, they were.

Long-time Fogerty fan, Mark S. McDonald is a refugee from five Texas dailies, and is now working on his next book, “They Gave Us Baseball: Now Look What We’ve Done,” to be released in early 2015. He cannot read sheet music, but claims he can play the radio.

 

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