"That Night"

Taking a detour from the subject of photography to that of music. As big a love, or bigger, than photography.

Duke Tumatoe & the All-Star Frogs (later, Duke Tumatoe & the Power Trio) were/are a regional rhythm & blues/rock band. Began following them in 1982, though they’d been around for much longer. I love them! Duke has a distinct guitar sound and style. And his song writing is witty, sometimes sardonic. And it all comes together best in a live setting. I’ve seen the band countless times.

John Fogerty needs no introduction. Creedence Clearwater Revival was one of my favorite bands in the early 70's. They owned the radio waves in 1970 and 1971. Albums were big sellers, singles from the albums, big hits. The sound is unmistakable. Still original and fresh today. One of the most original bands to come from America? They’d get my vote.

When I moved from Macomb to Chicago in June of 1987, I kinda lost track of Duke and the boys. When they played in Macomb it was easy to know they were coming to town. Chicago has so many more clubs it was difficult to keep up. By luck, a college friend, David Cronin, knew I was a fan, and got the word to me that they were going to play a couple of nights at a place on the near west side, and were going to record part of a live album those two nights. The producer of the live album was… John Fogerty!

Remember my comment about how good Duke and company are live? Well, John Fogerty happened to catch them at a club in Indiana one time. Fogerty said seeing them live was something like “Going to a small town and watching the local pitcher throw a 100 mph fastball.” Fogerty was an instant fan, and gave Duke his support.

The gigs were set for two nights. Friday, February 19th, and Saturday, February 20th (1988). My friend, Mark Dial, each got a ticket for Friday night. I don’t recall any word that guaranteed Fogerty would appear. I didn’t care. Seeing Duke again was good enough.

Dial and I met up and had dinner somewhere before. It was my first time on one of the public trains, as we moved towards the bar. Dials’ dinner had made him gassy. “I could clear this train with one flinch of my sphincter, “ he murmured. I gave him a horrified look, which saved everyone.

DeSalvo’s is in an industrial neighborhood. Duke had played there often. In fact, the album artwork for “Back to Chicago” shows the band in front of the bar. Dial and I arrived. Long and narrow, with two sides. One bar side, one side an open room for music. Dial and I arrived and were in. The music room was still roped off. We moved to the back of the bar side, ordered a drink and waited. I was sitting on a chair back, feet on the chair and distracted. Someone said, “Here he comes.”

One of the biggest heroes of my childhood music days, with a pretty blonde at his side, was walking right towards us. I remained calm, kept it casual, and didn’t move from the chair. He wasn’t very tall. I was looking straight into the eyes of John Fogerty. “Hi, John.” I stuck out a hand to shake and got the same response. He and the woman then ducked into the music room and stayed pretty much behind the sound board for the night, away from the fans.

Duke and band did their usual, great show. Three or four sets. Dial and I hung out in back, rather than get into the general admission, standing room, at the front. The place was small. We were in good shape in the back. One of my favorite Duke songs is “Can’t Judge a Book,” written by Willie Dixon. The interplay between Duke and Gus Starr (second guitarist) is awesome. The show got better, the audience wound tighter, as the night went on.

When Duke was done, Fogerty approached the stage. The jam began. That tale may be best told by the link to a story included here… http://riverising.tripod.com/john-articles/desalvos.htm

By the time Fogerty joined in, Dial and I were no longer sitting. We were standing on a table. One of those “folding type” tables used in cafeterias, etc. “Born on the Bayou” is my second favorite song of all time. When they played that, the table dancing and foot stomping by Dial and me was too much. The table collapsed in the middle!

I’ve worn the sweatshirt a few times to Duke shows since. Duke has admonished me. “You shouldn’t be wearing that,” he said once. He’s right. It’s a treasure and doesn’t come out much. Duke signed the left side, Fogerty signed the right side. Ironically, and by coincidence, a poster of Duke hangs above a magazine ad of Fogerty in my living room. The photo of Duke is one I made at some other time.

31 years ago tonight. A once in a lifetime night, with a once in a lifetime thrill.