On Stage: ‘Revisiting’ one of the 60s top acts

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Creedence Clearwater Revisited

Fans of music from the late 1960s know that a concert by Creedence Clearwater Revisited is a safe bet. And, in recent times, the band’s area concerts have been hosted by safe places to bet.

Around a year-and-a-half ago, Creedence Clearwater Revisited performed at a casino in downtown Philadelphia. On March 8, the band is headlining a show at the Xcite Center at Parx Casino (2999 Street Road, Bensalem, 888-588-7279, https://parxcasino.com).

Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Creedence Clearwater Revival was a huge band.

The four musicians from the San Francisco Bay area were responsible for a huge number of hits, including classic rock standards such as “Proud Mary,” “Born on the Bayou,” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain?,” and “Lookin’ Out My Back Door.”

In 1982, the band dissolved in what was a rock-and-roll version of one of the nastiest divorces you could ever imagine.

It immediately became obvious that there would never be a revival of Creedence Clearwater Revival featuring the four original members — rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty, bassist Stu Cook, drummer Doug Clifford and guitarist/vocalist John Fogerty.

Now, a reunion of the four is impossible because Tom Fogerty passed away in 1990 due to complications from back surgery.

And, the possibility of Clifford and Cook reuniting with John Fogerty with amiable results is somewhat as likely as Obama and Trump going on a kayaking expedition together.

Fortunately for fans of Creedence Clearwater Revival, the band’s music has been kept alive through Creedence Clearwater Revisited — a group put together by Cook and Clifford 24 years ago.

The current quintet features lead guitarist Kurt Griffey, lead singer/rhythm guitarist Dan McGuiness, multi‑instrumentalist Steve Gunner, Cook and Clifford.

“The original Creedence was four members – two guitars, bass and drums,” said Clifford, during a recent phone interview from his home in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“Now, there are five of us. The fifth guy does all the overdubs, keyboards, rhythm guitar, percussion and harmonies. With five, we can really reproduce the songs well.

“This is our 25th year with the project and we’re still doing what we do. Steve has been with us since Day One. Kurt has been with us seven years and dan is in his fourth year.”

The was no super catalyst for the formation of Creedence Clearwater Revisited.

“In 1995, I got Stu to move to Lake Tahoe, where I was living,” said Clifford. “We were hanging around a lot and decided we wanted to do some music. We wanted to play together. We were jamming together in the studio – bass and drums – and it got boring.

“We said to each other – we need to get a band. And, there was no-one playing Creedence music, so we put this project together. It wasn’t that difficult. The personality just evolved from the players. Staying true to the music was the easy part.”

Lead guitarist Kurt Griffey brings crowds to their feet and the front of the stage with his solos.  He has recorded and toured with other notable musicians including members of the Eagles, Foreigner, the Moody Blues, Wings, Lynyrd Skynryd, Santana and Journey.

McGuiness has a powerful voice and a soaring range and Gunner provides musical versatility to the band.

Not too many people remember what the original Creedence sounded like in concert. Because Creedence broke up so early, there was a huge void for live performances. Creedence was nine-and-a-half years in the making and three-and-a-half years touring.

With Creedence Clearwater Revisited carrying the torch, fans can hear what Creedence Clearwater Revival sounded like onstage.

When fans hear Creedence Clearwater Revisited play, Creedence music is what they get — 100 percent Creedence Clearwater Revival music.

“If it’s not Creedence, we don’t play it,” said Clifford. “We’ve never made any new music with this band. We don’t want to. We play the hits.

“1969 was a banner year for working – three albums and tours. Then, there was ‘Cosmo’s Factory’ in 1970 – an album that had six hits.

“We have what the fans want — Creedence music. They come for the experience. We never get tired of playing Creedence music. We find that it’s best to focus on the most popular stuff. We keep it simple. And, in a lot of cases, we nail it just as good as Creedence Clearwater Revival did.

“We do 45-50 shows a year. Our audience ranges from eight to 80 – and it gets younger all the time. We have probably the broadest demographic of any band in America.”

The Creedence songs may be old but for the members of Creedence Clearwater Revisited, playing them never gets old.

“We just go out and have a good time – and so does the audience,” said Clifford. “And, most importantly, we have the proper level of authenticity.”

Video link for Creedence Clearwater Revisited – https://youtu.be/HjuXin4iEXc.

The show at the Xcite Center at Parx Casino will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35, $45, $55, $65 and $75.

Other upcoming shows at the venue are Reba McIntyre on March 9, JB Smoove on March 16 and Norm Macdonald on March 27.

If you’re a fan of loud, relentless, aggressive metal music, then the place you want to be on March 8 is the Theatre of the Living Arts (334 South Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1011, http://www.lnphilly.com).

On Friday night, the venue on South Street is hosting the Decibel Magazine Tour featuring Morbid Angel, Immolation, Necrot, and Blood Incantation.

Necrot

Necrot is a badass band from a badass city – a three-piece death metal/punk band from Oakland, California. Necrot – Luca Indrio, Sonny Reinhardt, Chad Gailey — is touring in support of its critically-acclaimed new album “Blood Offerings,” which was released last June via Tankcrimes.

The album solidified Necrot’s position as one of the top young metal bands in America. The record earned the Number 29 spot on Billboard’s Hard Rock Chart and Number 52 on Billboard’s New Artist Chart upon its first week of release and continued to rack up sales ever since.

“We haven’t gotten back into the studio for a while,” said Gailey, during a phone interview Wednesday from the Town Ballroom in Buffalo, New York. “We plan to go into the studio at the end of the year.

“We’ve just been touring non-stop since the album came out. We did two North American tours – full U.S. and Canada tours. We were in Europe touring for 40 days and we played a bunch of festivals. We’ve been keeping busy that way.”

The band’s work on “Blood Offerings’ began more than three years ago.

“We started putting the songs together for ‘Blood Offerings’ around the end of 2015,” said Gailey. “We worked on them in between some of the small tours we did in 2016.

“We recorded the album in August 2016. We did the initial tracking with producer Greg Wilkinson at Earhammer Studio. We’ve recorded all most all of our music there as well as stuff with our different individual projects. We all have different bands but Necrot is our main band.”

“Blood Offerings” was mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege and comes shrouded in the unhallowed cover art of Marald Van Haasteren. The limited vinyl edition comes as a foil-stamped, gatefold deluxe LP available in four color variants.

“Once we had the initial drum tracks and scratch guitar, we’d play live in the studio and build on it,” said Gailey. “We all came up with songs together. We did 10 songs but only used eight of them on the album.

“We finished the album in January 2017.This is our first full-length. Before this, we just had demos and singles. This had to be the best we’d ever done – or else.

“There are a lot of bands on this tour, so we only get to do a 30-minute set. We can realistically only play about six or seven songs so half is from ‘Blood Offerings’ and half are songs that appeared on our demos. We picked the strongest from each and we’ve gotten great response. We play the ones we know people will like.

“Touring with Morbid Angel headlining, we’re the second band on out of four. It’s killer to play 30 minutes every night. It’s a perfect amount of time for people to be drawn in — in-and-out and leave them wanting for more.”

Video link for Necrot – https://youtu.be/bTNas0q5exI.

The show at the TLA, which also features Morbid Angel, Immolation and Blood Incantation, will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $28.50.

Other upcoming shows at TLA are Hippie Sabotage – The Beautiful Beyond on March 7, Trevor Hall on March 9, State Champs on March 10, Lords of Acid on March 11 and Trippie Redd on March 12 and 13.

Badflower

Badflower, a California band featuring singer/guitarist Josh Katz, lead guitarist Joey Morrow, bass guitarist Alex Espiritu and drummer Anthony Sonetti, will be performing at Fillmore Philadelphia (1100 Canal Street, Philadelphia, 215-309-0150, www.thefillmorephilly.com) on March 8 as part of “The Noise Presents Nothing More – The Truth Tour.” The tour also features Nothing More, Of Mice and Men, and Palisades.

On February 22, Badflower released its highly-anticipated debut album “OK, I’m Sick” via Big Machine/John Varvatos Records. The band, which was nominated for an iHeart Radio Award for Best New Rock/Alternative Artist, scored a Number 1 hit at Active Rock with its song “Ghost.”

Badflower racked up more than nine million views on the music video for “Ghost,” and performed the hit on “The Late Late Show with James Corden.” The song lodged itself at Number 7 on Billboard’s 2018 Year-End Mainstream Rock Songs Chart and the band’s current single “Heroin” is in the Top 15 and climbing at Rock Radio.

“Alex and I went to school together at Santa Susana High in Simi Valley,” said Katz, during a phone interview Wednesday from a tour stop in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“We’ve been playing music together forever. Anthony was in another band near is. Joey is from the Bay Area. We were living in the same building in Hollywood when we were in music school.”

Badflower released their debut single “Soap” via Hundred Handed Records.

“Our first single was ‘Soap’ in 2015,” said Katz. “That was the song the label picked to put out. Since then, we’ve had much bigger singles.”

Badflower’s fortunes took an upturn with the arrival of John Varvatos in its world. Varvatos is an American contemporary menswear designer and record label owner.

“John put one of our songs in a fashion show,” said Katz. “That had a big influence on our career.”

A demo version of the band’s song “Animal” was used in Varvatos’ show during New York Fashion Week. Badflower went to New York City to showcase for Varvatos and head executives at Republic Records. Not long after, the band signed with Republic Records. In 2016, Badflower released its debut EP “Temper.”

“We had ‘Temper’ finished and we were in limbo after being signed to that indie label (Hundred Handed Records),” said Katz. “When we signed with Republic, we told them that we had already begun making a record in our garage.”

The self-produced collection impressed the label and Republic released “Animal” as the first single. “Temper” dropped in November 2016 and Badflower was named Apple Music’s Artist of the week. iTunes named “Animal as one of the best rock songs of 2016 and “Temper” as one of the best rock albums of 2016.

“We started working on the new album in October 2017,” said Katz. “We started writing and recording immediately after a tour. We were writing songs that applied to our lives as well as life in this society and this generation. It couldn’t have been written in any other time period.

“The song ‘Ghost’ we didn’t even want on the album. We thought it was too heavy and that we’d be vilified because of the way we looked at suicide. Nobody talks about suicide this directly. I felt that it was an important topic that we needed to deal with. I’m very pleased with the response the song has gotten. It was the Number One rock song in the country.”

“Ghost” was inspired by the singer-guitarist’s struggle with panic disorder. The song resulted in a catharsis for Katz, a beacon of hope for fans and a hit single.

Badflower is the first act signed to Big Machine/John Varvatos Records, a newly minted partnership between Big Machine Label Group president/CEO Scott Borchetta and Varvatos, the iconic fashion designer.

Badflower’s new single is a song called “Heroin.” It has nothing to do with dying, accidental overdoses, drug addiction or event with the lethal white powder itself.

“The current single ‘Heroin’ was written a long, long time ago,” said Katz. “It’s about a terrible relationship. The overall theme is about addiction but it’s not about drugs.

“We all live in L.A., but we’ve spent the last 10 months touring. We’re out on this tour now and it’s just the start. We’re going to be touring beyond this year. After that, we’ll work on another album. Right now, there is nothing left in the can. We got it all out on this album.”

Video link for Badflower – https://youtu.be/79EjzCJlSYE.

The show at The Fillmore, which also features Nothing More, Of Mice and Men, and Palisades, will start at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $26.50.

Other upcoming shows at The Fillmore are Dan + Shay on March 9, The Wall Experience on March 10 and Ella Mai on March 13.

Roomful of Blues

On March 9, The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) will welcome the return of Roomful of Blues, a Rhode Island-based band with a recording career that has lasted longer than 40 years and resulted in more than 20 albums.

The band has toured worldwide and has treated fans around the world to its unique blend of a variety of music genres including rock and roll, swing, R&B, boogie-woogie, soul and a number of different blues styles.

Roomful of Blues has received five Grammy Award nominations and seven Blues Music Awards, including “Blues Band Of The Year” in 2005). The Down Beat International Critics Poll has twice selected Roomful of Blues as “Best Blues Band”.

Over the years, more than 50 different musicians have been part of Roomful of Blues’ line-up, including vocalist/guitarist Duke Robillard, vocalist Lou Ann Barton, keyboardist Junior Brantley and trumpeter Fred Jackson.

Roomful of Blues is currently an eight-piece unit featuring guitarist/bandleader Chris Vachon, tenor and alto sax player Rich Lataille, Mark Earley (saxophone), Rusty Scott (piano, Hammond B-3 organ), Carl Gerhard (trumpet), John Turner (bass), Phil Pemberton (vocals) and Chris Anzalone (drums).

Roomful of Blues’ first album was an eponymous release in 1978. But it has been a while since the New England-based band put out a record. Its latest album “45 Live” was released more than five years ago.

“We have been working on our next album,” said Pemberton, during a phone interview Wednesday morning from his home in Worcester, Massachusetts.

“Three or four of us have been writing and Chris has been doing a lot of writing. We all write on our own. When something starts to come together, we get together and work on it. It comes in spurts.”

According to Vachon, “We recorded ’45 Live’ in 2013. It was our 45th year being together, so we decided to do a live record. We did it in Rhode Island at a club called Ocean Mist in Wakefield. We recorded three nights in a row there and there were sell-out crowds every night. It’s our favorite little bar.

“We worked there a lot before, so we knew it was going to be a good situation. We set up with a control room on the side. We played the same set every night. When it was time to put the album together, I ended up picking stuff from all three shows. There were a lot of people there for every show. It was St. Patrick’s Day weekend, so people were really in a party mood.”

Not many bands stay together for more than 10-15 years. Very few make it past 25 and passing a 40th anniversary is almost unheard of. Roomful of Blues is celebrated its 50th anniversary last year but didn’t make a big deal of it.

“We played some shows that were promoted as 50th anniversary shows,” said Pemberton. “But we didn’t really do anything special to celebrate 50 years. We’ve had a lot of albums and a lot of band members over the years. At the last check, there were 55 members over 50 years.

“This lineup is the most stable. I’ve been in the band for 10 years. Rich Lataille is a founding member and has been in the band since 1970. Chris Vachon has been around since 1990.

“We have 25 CDs of history to pull from and we change it up a lot. It we play the same stuff all the time, it gets boring for the fans – and boring for the band. We want to get people dancing. We want to get people moving in their seats. So, we try different things and different songs.

“Half the set is covers – songs the band has done with other people…for example, the album we did with Earl King. We also pull out old blues classics like Magic Sam’s ‘Easy Baby,’ which is a great slow blues song.”

Roomful of Blues definitely knows how to please its fans. It has been doing it for half-a-century.

According to Vachon, “The reason for our longevity is the music we like to play. We’ve had our ups and downs. Some years we’ve toured more than others. We currently play about 150 shows a year. The band keeps getting new fans and there are a lot of older people who have been listening to us for years.”

Pemberton and his bandmates are always happy to have a return engagement at the Sellersville Theater.

“The Sellersville Theater is always a great place to play,” said Pemberton. “They make you feel comfortable. They feed you great food and the staff is very friendly. And, our audiences there are always great. We love playing Sellersville.”

Video for Roomful of Blues — https://youtu.be/p5XkI0zor74.

The show at the Sellersville Theater, which has Gabe Stillman as  the opener, will start at 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $25-$39.50.

Other upcoming shows at the venue are Satisfaction (Rolling Stones Tribute) on March 7, Fates Warning with MindMaze on March 8, The Outside Track with Jules Tarpey on March 10, Tab Benoit with Whiskey Bayou Revue on March 11, John 5 And The Creatures with Dead Girls Academy & Jared James Nichols on March 12, and Howie Day with Emma Charles on March 13.

Jackie Verna

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will preset Eric Gales on March 8 and Jackie Verna on March 10.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host “Music for Jesse” featuring Kate Nice, Allison Lutschaunig, Hope McGinnis, Rik & Wendi Bourne, Dave Loves Donna, Cindy Ross & Mike Perauskas, Blue Moon, The Holts, Casey Chew, and Partial Eclipse on March 8, and Bent Benjamins with Conor & The Wild Hunt on March 9.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will host “A Tribute to David Bowie — Brian Filone’s Bowie Experience” on March 9.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will present The Expendables with special guest Ballyhoo! On March 7, Star Kitchen on March 8, and Jeff Mattson & Friends on March 9.

The Academy of Music (Broad and Locust streets, Philadelphia, 215-731-3333, www.kimmelcenter.org) is hosting the Pennsylvania Ballet’s production of “Giselle” now through March 17.

The Merriam Theater (250 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, 215-893-1999, www.kimmelcenter.org) is hosting the National Tour of “Rent” now through March 10.

The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) presents Ron Bennington, Jim Florentine, Robert Kelly & Rich Vos on March 8, Tony Toni Toné & Jody Watley on March 9 and “Bowie Celebration: The David Bowie Alumni Tour” on March 10.

Annenberg Center (3680 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, https://annenbergcenter.org/events) presents an interdisciplinary/dance/movement program titled “Vessels” now through March 10.

The Grand Opera House (818 North Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-652-5577, www.thegrandwilmington.org) will present Renniw Harris’ “Lifted” on March 7 and 8 and “Songs of Ireland: A Celtic Celebration” on March 10.

The Locks at Sona (4417 Main Street, Manayunk, 484- 273-0481, sonapub.com) will present “Johnny A. – Just Me and My Guitars” on March 8, Richard Bush & The Peace Creeps with Smash Palace on March 9 and David Keenan with special guests Shane Dodd and Jeffrey Martin on March 10.

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