BWW Review: FORTUNATE SON Tribute to Creedence Clearwater Revival Kicks Off Tuesday Nites UnPlugged at the El Portal
3,000 Miles Off-Broadway proudly presents TUESDAY NITES UnPlugged, a new concert series at the historic El Portal Theatre Debbie Reynolds Mainstage in the NoHo Arts District, featuring some of the finest tribute acts performing today. The presentation styles range from a single performer accompanying themselves on piano or guitar to full bands with all the intricacy and complexity of the original arrangements. The concerts are delightfully intimate, full of good stories and a unique way to experience and enjoy the music, with each concert taking place on the first Tuesday of the month including Fortunate Son on September 3, Elton The Early Years on October 1 and A Taylor Made Tapestry on November 5. All performances begin at 7:30pm, with all tickets priced at $35.
I really enjoyed the first concert in the series, FORTUNATE SON, America's Tribute to Creedence Clearwater Revival, especially since the Country Rockers chose to play amplified instruments, which kept the spirit of the band at a sound level more appropriate to their style. Led by Brad Ford, who has starred as CCR's lead singer John Fogerty since 1994, on guitar and harmonica, FORTUNATE SON band members include Mike Franceschini (Aka "The Butcher") on Guitar/Vocals, Ron Ota (Aka "The Deacon") on Bass /Vocals, and Dan Murdy (Aka "The Matrixx") on Drums/Percussion, all of whom bring the excitement, spirit and grit of America's Favorite Rock & Roll Band, who personifies the turbulent late 60s in their music, alive in each and every song performed.
The evening began with a selection of four songs CCR played at Woodstock, during which the group went on at 12:30am after the audience fell asleep (or passed out) during the Grateful Dead's set which preceded theirs. These included "Born on the Bayou," "Green River," "Who'll Stop the Rain?" and "Bad Moon Rising." Along the way, Ford shared stories about how Fogerty found his beloved 1972 "Acme" guitar online upon which he wrote many of the group's hit songs, after which lead guitarist "The Butcher" was featured in a hard rocking solo.
After sharing the fact the group has just played in Florida the week before and was able to catch a flight to Los Angeles last Sunday pre-hurricane Dorian hitting that state, next up were iconic hits "Lodi," "Down on the Corner," and on to "Cotton Fields" which speaks to CCR's Southern roots. Then Ford shared about his own roots right here in Los Angeles, mentioning the famous County and Western Bar The Palomino, a place many of us in the audience remember attending to see some of the greatest touring CW bands of the day. Honoring Buck Owens, who he saw perform there in his signature "Bakersfield" style, led the group into "Lookin' Out My Backdoor."
And when the last song CCR played as a head banging encore at Woodstock began, you can bet many of us in the audience got up to dance to "Susie Q," a song that had a special meaning to yours truly about when I was listening to it for the first time during the summer of 1968. Just use your imagination on that one...
After a break, Ford brought up the fact that FORTUNATE SON was performing on electric guitars, rather than acoustically, but certainly none in the audience seemed to mind when they launched into "Fortunate Son," then mentioning local Deejays The Real Don Steele, 93 KHJ and KRLA, the popular teen radio stations in Los Angeles which I certainly remember, before "Up Around the Bend," "Hey Tonight," and "The Midnight Special" during which he reminded everyone the real lyric is "ain't no fork or pork in the pan." Seems Fogerty loved to slur his words together, often making them incomprehensible to listeners!
Ford shared how FORTUNATE SON always makes a point to salute and mention all U.S. servicemen during every show, especially noting those who suffered after returning from Vietnam without any support at home. After asking any veterans in the audience to stand, Ford led the applause, thanking them, as well as first responders and law enforcement, for their service and dedication to America and our freedom. "It's a jungle out there," Ford noted before the band launched into "Run Through the Jungle."
By the time the band got to its finale numbers, "Fortunate Son" which was dedicated to all the unfortunate sons sent to war, especially Vietnam, "Have You Ever Seen the Rain," and the rock anthem "Proud Mary," many in the audience were up on their feet dancing and singing along, creating a mutual memory of times past with the joy of youthful exuberance. The evening ended with Fogerty's 1985 hit "Centerfield" which Ford dedicated to all the Los Angeles sports teams! Thank you Brad Ford for your dedication to delivering all these classics with the authentic sound, look and feel of John Fogerty.
FORTUNATE SON continues its nationwide tour with stops in venues of all sizes. Check the schedule on their website at www.fortunatesontribute.com or on their Facebook page. Then order your tickets ASAP and get ready to dance to some of the greatest Rock and Roll music brought into this world by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
FORTUNATE SON performance photos by Sal Gomez3,000 Miles Off Broadway Productions presents TUESDAY NITES UnPlugged at the historic El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood 91601. All shows begin at 7:30pm. For $35 reserved seat tickets and information, please call 818-508-4200 or go to www.elportaltheatre.com.
Upcoming Tuesday Nites UnPlugged concerts at the El Portal include:
ELTON - THE EARLY YEARS starring Kenny Metcalf on October 1, 2019 @ 7:30pm. Fans who love Elton John will adore Kenny Metcalf! It's not just the sequins and the big glasses; it's not just the smiles - when Kenny sings, he takes the audience to a real live Elton John performance. This is a show that transports the crowd to the early career of Elton John's music. The hits sound magical and perfect from "Benny and the Jets" to "Rocket Man" to "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." Kenny's great live vocals and the band's tight sets make this band wonderful for casino events, huge outdoor festivals, prestigious private events, and renowned night clubs.
A TAYLOR MADE TAPESTRY starring Jeannie Austin and Stephen Bock on November 5, 2019 @ 7:30pm. This special event is a recreation of the 2009 Reunion concert at the Troubadour Theatre between James Taylor and Carole King. This intimate, unplugged concert will feature the best music of both of these amazing artists. Taylor Made, The James Taylor Tribute Band, consists of a group of musicians who are dedicated to bringing the uplifting, soulful and memorable sounds of the legendary singer-songwriter, featuring Stephen Bock, Darryl Lieberstein, Clark Pardee, and Derek Phillips.
Carole King's incredible songbook is performed to perfection by sound-alike Jeannie Austin on piano recreates the timeless hits of the world's most revered female singer-songwriter. The show will leave audiences with memories of the music King wrote and recorded: hit singles like "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," "One Fine Day," "Up on the Roof;" and great songs from the Grammy-winning Tapestry album which featured James Taylor on guitar and backing vocals: "You've Got a Friend," "Natural Woman," "It's Too Late," and "I Feel the Earth Move."