We’re spanning generations today, people.
We’ve got some old-school British rockers performing live in Akron, some Canton-bred, old-school soul men offering their final recorded statement and a bunch of folks playing the blues, which is both old school and multigenerational.
First up, because they have the best photo, is classic-rock Boogie Kings Foghat playing two shows, at 7 and 9 p.m., at Tangier on Friday night.
For most folks raised on '70s rock radio, the word Foghat is another name for “Slow Ride.” Likewise, gamers who spent a lot of quality time with Guitar Hero II are likely familiar with the true copyright and rock radio staple.
The band is still led by co-founding member and drummer Roger Earl and, as with most bands (and people) who manage to keep going for decades, Foghat’s story is rife with highs, lows, multiple member changes, starts, stops and some death. But, of course, that’s what the music is for, and Foghat’s bluesy boogie music is for fist-pumping and forgetting your troubles while you scream out “Take It Eeeh-zaay!” and drunkenly lament being a “Fool for the City!”
Truthfully, for me, “Slow Ride” is on that short list of songs I grew up hearing too much. Heard it so often on rock radio and those old late-night commercials for compilations with names like “Top Down Tunes” or “Great Truck Drivin’ Songs,” that though I fully respect its place in the (deep voice) “Pantheon of Rock!,” I could live the rest of my life without hearing it again and be OK.
It’s the same for “American Woman,” “Ramblin’ Man,” “Old Time Rock N’ Roll,” “Takin' Care of Business” and a few others (“Freebird”) that are good songs but, yeah ... I’m full.
One fun fact about Foghat: Their recent tour rider lists six bottles of Foghat Cellars Wine. Yeah, that’s right, Foghat’s got wine and the band wants to be able to drink up to six bottles per show (three 2013 Pinots and three 2014 Chardonnays), so it must be at least decent, right?
It’s the rider of a band full of veteran, well-traveled, hard touring musicians who’ve been rocking professionally for a long time, and know exactly what they need to be comfortable, including back-up guitars because airlines suck and often lose things.
Last of the O’Jays
Meanwhile, Canton’s own O'Jays recently released “The Last Word,” the trio’s final studio album and first release in almost two decades. With 60 years in the music business under their belt, Walter Williams and Eddie Levert, along with Eric Nolan Grant, who’s been the “new guy” for 24 years, don’t have to say anything.
But with songwriting and production from Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini and fellow R&B legend Betty Wright and songwriter Sam Hollander, the album is an unabashed sonic throwback even while the group sings about the current state of the country on “Above the Law,” the Curtis Mayfield-inspired “Do You Really Know How I Feel."
The nine songs are all infused with classic Philly Soul touches including soaring strings, bubbling percussion and old-school vocal melodies, on the fun “Enjoy Yourself,” written by pop’s current retro-pastiche king Bruno Mars, and Patrick Monahan of Train. It’s a fun listen and the two septuagenarian soul men still sound pretty good.
Personally, when it comes to older artists making records, I’ll usually take a shameless dive into the throwback seas of their familiar sound over a desperate attempt at riding whatever the current pop sound waves are.
On Saturday, the Northeast Ohio Blues Association will hold its annual Blues Challenge at the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Jackson Township. The event starts at 1 p.m. and each performer gets about a half-hour to impress. This year’s competitors are Damian Knapp followed by Mojo Theory, Dan Holt, BFH Band, Jake Friel & Nic Clark, Victorious Kaybirds and Paul Borger & Rick Houston.
This local competition feeds the much larger annual International Blues Competition in Memphis, which happens in January. The evening will end with a full set from the Backstreet Blues Band.
The event is also doubling as a benefit for the Domestic Violence Project based in Canton, which provides emergency and support services for victims of domestic violence. If you want to help, DVP could always use cleaning supplies, baby care items, twin bedding and personal hygiene stuff.
Malcolm X Abram can be reached at email@example.com or 330-996-3758. Like him on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1lNgxml, and follow him on Twitter @malcolmabramABJ.