The John Fogerty Incident 7.14.23

Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre
Morrison, CO

Words by J. Picard
Photos by Nancy Isaac Photography

"Early in the evening, just about supper time," over at Red Rocks, sound check started to unwind. I walked along the main road through the sprawling complex from the lower north lot to the trading post where I would meet MusicMarauders photographer, Nancy Isaac, for my media pass. It's been decades since Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman and guitarist owned the rights to his music. After fifty years, all of that changed. Around 5:30 PM I scurried past the lower entrances to the fable venue where I could hear The String Cheese Incident and John Fogerty running through classic Creedence material and Fogerty sounded incredible!

Leading up to the show, I resisted listening to any recent Fogerty as I wanted to go into the experience without expectation. On too many occasions I've wandered into a show to hear one of my favorites from the past, only to be disappointed by years of wear and tear resulting in lackluster performances. I could tell that this evening would be different as what I was hearing sounded near flawless. A big smile and goosebumps overtook me as I b-lined it to the post where I found Nancy with a ticket and extra photo pass in hand. A short time later I was joined by my wife, Carly, and we jumped into the climb van to ride to the backstage entrance.

At the top of the climb, also the bottom of the venue, we jumped in line with a bunch of SCI family and friends to enter at 6:00 PM sharp. Our tickets went unscanned and the mad rush of folks sprinted to secure prime real estate in front of the stage, while I jetted to concessions for a couple of Topo Chicos. From there we circled around into the amphitheatre and headed up to row thirty center where we found a bunch of familiar faces! A short time later our best bud Spukes arrived and I yelled "Tio," which means "uncle" in Spanish and was a nickname given to him by my Columbian friends who we took to see Umphrey's McGee at Red Rocks a month prior. As Tio grew closer, it was clear that he was wearing his weathered 2010 "Roots Run Deep" lot shirt from the year we all met. At that point, a good time was guaranteed.

As I had an extra ticket in my AXS account, I posted in the MusicMarauders Contributors Facebook group asking if anyone wanted the ticket. Elliot Siff jumped on the opportunity and I transferred the ticket over to him. Tio purchased a couple more Topo Chicos and it was off to the races! I began to power through cannabis, joint after joint, as String Cheese hit the stage and opened with the classic "Outside & Inside." The notes bounced between the rocks and the crowd began to sway. Additional SCI classics followed with "Lost" transitioning into "Shine!" Red Rocks was indeed shinning. "Look at Where We Are" triggered a moment of reflection and a roar from the crowd in a beautiful moment of presence. "100 Year Flood" went into "Close your Eyes" with a palpable joy in the air in anticipation of the band being joined by the legendary Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, John Fogerty. Elliot popped up and it was great to connect with him. The band closed the set with "Rollover" into "Rivertrance," causing the energy to climb! It was at that point I was offered mushrooms to which I obliged. Red Rocks was buzzing and so was I...

At set break Tio told us that when he was a child his father used to coach his little league baseball team. Before the game his dad would play CCR's "Centerfield" to hype the team up. I jumped in impersonating a fatherly voice and said, "First the chalk talk, then a few words from John Fogerty followed by the National Anthem." Tio belted out a laughter that has come to define his character and brought so much joy to so many. It was a special moment that made me smile. The lights went down and this time SCI returned to the stage with John and his son, Shane. The venue erupted. They lead off with "Up Around The Bend" and the crowd singing every word. I immediately got goosebumps and laughed as I joined in. CCR hits "Green River," "Lookin' Out My Back Door" and "Born on the Bayou" had the place reveling in nostalgia and this wasn't some cheap put on; The music sounded great!

There were multiple times I found myself in disbelief turning to Tio during a ripping solo from John or Shane and saying, "What the fuck?" Tio reciprocating with just a scream. At one point John spoke about getting his old guitar back that he played at Woodstock, as well as the rights to his music and how much it meant to him. The train rolled on with "Effigy," "Long As I Can See The Light" and "Who'll Stop The Rain?!" I consumed some more mushrooms and further elevated an already wonderful experience. In my haze I reflected on the fact that though Michael Kang and Kyle Hollingsworth had stepped up for a couple of limited solos, the band was really sitting back offering the front of the stage to a hero. It was the ultimate sign of respect.

I glanced down in anticipation of what would come next and noticed that Fogerty had his "Slugger" baseball bat guitar as they launched into "Centerfield!" Tio danced, laughed and attempted to capture a drunken video of the song on his phone as he sang, "Put me in coach, I'm ready to play!" He mentioned how happy his dad would be to see him dancing to the song. The hits continued with "Have You Ever Seen The Rain," "Down on the Corner," "The Old Man Down The Road," and "Fortunate Son" to close the set. Bill Nershi, with the help of the Colorado crowd, conjured up a massive "Group Hoot" and then The John Fogerty Incident closed with "Bad Moon Rising" and "Proud Mary." 

I was floored. I can't remember the last time I experienced such an energetic and nostalgic performance. It was executed perfectly by The String Cheese Incident and flawlessly by a man who's age I am half, yet have nowhere near half of his energy to show for it. The lights came up and we wandered down, down, down to the lower road, turning towards the car. The car ride home was a myriad of laughter, stories, bright lights and gratefulness to see one of our musical heroes, apparently still in his prime fifty years later. Kudos to you, John Fogerty, and thank you to SCI for so many fulfilling incidents on the rocks!

Set One | The String Cheese Incident: Outside & Inside, Lost > Shine, Look at Where We Are, 100 Year Flood > Close Your Eyes, Rollover > Rivertrance

Set Two | The John Fogerty Incident: Up Around the Bend, Green River, Lookin' Out My Back Door, Born on the Bayou, Effigy, Long As I Can See The Light, Who'll Stop The Rain, Centerfield, Have You Ever Seen The Rain, Down on the Corner, The Old Man Down The Road, Fortunate Son

Encore: Group Hoot, Bad Moon Rising, Proud Mary


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