Fogerty Brought the Swamp to the Trop
Got to tell you, I am a child of the 1960’s. Got my first walking papers about the time that the Freedom Rider bus was firebombed in Anniston, Alabama and began my long-winded speech patterns the day the Berlin Wall began construction. I had the early sixty’s painted all around my simple soul and it has always been a part of my subconscious life. And it was in that time that I also first began to get my interest in music almost simultaneous with my love for baseball.
But in the 60’s there was no “walk-up” music or even a interesting musical interlude between pitchers strolling from the mound or hitching a ride in a golf cart to the mound. But if there was to be music played at the ballpark at that time period, Cajun Bluesman John Fogerty surely would have had a well selected portion of the baseball world humming his tunes or people swaying in the stands to his beats and guitar.
Not to be forgotten in 2010 is the fact that his signature song about his love for the game, “Centerfield” is celebrating its 25th year. And what better way to celebrate than to invite almost 30,000 of your closest baseball friends to join in the festivities with you. So last Saturday night, during their yearly “60’s Night” when the young lasses of the Rays Team were dancing to songs only their parents would have played prior either on vinyl or 8-track, the scene quickly evolved into a classic bluesy music fest honoring Fogerty’s contribution to that era’s music.
And some around me were upset that he actually started with “Centerfield” first on his long play list, but because of the plethora of tunes and melodies he would evoke in all of us that night, in the end, it only seemed right. So he took to the stage with his Home blue Rays jersey and his small baseball bat-shaped guitar and brought the crowd instantly into his own little bayou-inspired trip.
And sure right after the song when he brought his highly accented Cajun drawl to the microphone thanking the crowd and talking about the adventure we were about to take…I felt transported to a small darkened nightclub in the French Quarter, or the back porch of a swamp bar somewhere around Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Fogerty had just come to Tropicana Field after performing at the 2010 Swannee River Jam on Friday night with fellow artists like Travis Tritt, Zac Brown Band, John Michael Montgomery, rockers Kansas and the LoCash Cowboys. How wild is it that he would mosey right down southbound on I-75 from Live Oak, Florida near the Georgia/Florida border to the confines of Tropicana Field before resting a spell before hitting the Scandinavian leg of his upcoming European Tour.
But immediately after he got finished playing “Centerfield”, Fogerty discarded his Rays jersey to moans from the crowd, but got into the spirit of the night dressed in a brown plaid flannel shirt and jeans and changing guitars to begin our transformation of the night into a Blues mini-fest of all his Credence Clearwater Revival moments and his own special take on the music scene. The minute the first chords were played on his electric guitar of “Born on the Bayou”, the crowd was whooping and hollering for more. And it is classic to hear people still singing a song that was written so long ago, and before most of them were ever imagined in their parent’s minds.
“Lookin’ Out My Backdoor” caught some in the crowd by surprise that they forgot he did the classic tune, but the crowd dancing and singing to the tune quickly brought the rest of us into the journey one more time. From “Fortunate Son” to “Up Around the Bend” Fogerty kept the Trop thumping with drumbeats and guitar riffs until we all felt we had lost 10 pounds just from the constant singing and dancing among the aisles and stadium Field Turf II.
No, I am not talking about the slow ballad classic “Garden Party”, but it was extremely amazing in its own right on Saturday night. What I think the crowd had been waiting for was “Proud Mary”, and Fogerty and his band mates did not disappoint any of us in the least with this classic song that everyone knew, even those under twenty years of age. It is a song that transcends gender and age boundaries and really emotionally takes you into another realm of music greatness.
And Fogerty sang it like it was his very first time bellowing out the tune with the extreme emotion in his heart and a deep soul of a man who knows this type of Cajun-influenced music has a place in every section of the World and in all of our hearts and mind too. Got to tell you some nights I leave the Rays/Hess Express Saturday night Concert Series with a ringing in my ears from the high bass or the implosion of sounds to my eardrums.
On Saturday night I left Tropicana Field with a constant ringing in my ears of classic blues/rock songs I want to repurchase again on I-tunes or other music sites. but also wanted to again relish in my car the music of Fogerty and a section of this country often misunderstood or forgotten. One tremendous concert series artists down, and nine to go.
If this weekend’s guests, ZZTop is even remotely close in comparison to the music and memory flashbacks I had with Fogerty on Saturday night, it is going to be a long year watching these artists take stage. But in the end, it is the music that shapes us. That evokes the memories and the emotions of times in our lives where joy or sorry are housed.
Forgerty brought back those youthful Fraternity parties and backyard BBQ’s I grew up with as a young kid in the Citrus/Hernando County regions where my parents had a weekend fishing cabin. It reminded me why I love living in this region of the country, and how music truly shapes your life in so many ways.