No fools for this city

T here was a time when blues-based rock, and the bands that played it, ruled the American music landscape. Every semi-major city and town had a record store and guitar shop. Music acts like Bad Company, Free, The Who and ZZ Top blazed a path of scorched earth from one arena to the next. And […]

Slow riding Foghat rocks Hollywood Gaming August 17


Foghat bassist Rodney O’Quinn and singer/guitarist Charlie Huhn. Photo: Marko Shark.

By Rusty Pate

There was a time when blues-based rock, and the bands that played it, ruled the American music landscape. Every semi-major city and town had a record store and guitar shop. Music acts like Bad Company, Free, The Who and ZZ Top blazed a path of scorched earth from one arena to the next.

And in the midst of that guitar-driven hysteria, Foghat emerged.

The band formed in London in 1971. Guitarist/vocalist “Lonesome” Dave Peverett, bassist Tony Stevens and drummer Roger Earl had played together in the group Savoy Brown. They joined forces with guitarist Rod Price and released their self-titled album debut the following year. They released a string of popular albums throughout the 1970s and quickly became favorites among the hard rock faithful.

However, it would be their 1975 album Fool for the City that launched the band into rock and roll history with upbeat title track and the enduring anthem, “Slow Ride.”

Guitarist Bryan Bassett joined the group in 1990. Bassett had been a member of the Ohio-based band Wild Cherry in the early 1970s. They scored a hit in 1976 with “Play That Funky Music.” Bassett says the track was practically autobiographical.

“It was sort of a tongue-in-cheek lyric,” Bassett says. “Someone actually did say that to us in a club in Pittsburgh. ‘You better start playing some funky music, white boy—if you want to keep working.’”

After Wild Cherry broke up in 1979, Bassett moved to Florida to concentrate on producing and engineering other acts. It was a welcome change of pace after years on the road in the rough-and-tumble music business.

He found a home with a record label that harkened back to his earliest musical roots. King Snake Records would allow Bassett to use his musical vocabulary to help other musicians realize their artistic vision. The label’s focus was on southern blues. While they only produced around 10 albums a year at their peak, they found an audience with their focus on old-school blues artists.

It was during this time that Bassett met “Lonesome” Dave. Bassett had a blues quartet that gigged around the Orlando area. Guitarist Pat Travers brought Peverett to a show. He and Bassett struck up a quick friendship around a mutual love of “swamp blues” label Excello Records.

“We played all this really obscure blues music, mostly from the southeastern United States—Lazy Lester and Lightning Slim and all these kind of guys,” Bassett says. “Dave knew every one of the songs we played. He was nearly a blues historian.”

When Peverett took out his own version of Foghat in 1990 he asked Bassett to join. Bassett would later join the group Molly Hatchett when the original members of Foghat rejoined in 1993.

“We had just finished a European tour with Molly Hatchet,” Bassett says. “I became friendly with them. I literally got off the Foghat bus and got on the Molly Hatchet bus—switched into Southern Rock mode, got a cowboy hat, started saying y’all a lot.”

After the original members of Foghat again went their separate ways, Bassett was brought back into the fold. He originally thought Peverett just wanted to jam at home, but quickly learned “Lonesome” Dave was ready to get back on the road.

“I said ‘I’ll have to quit my band,’” Bassett laughed. “Dave said ‘OK, I’ll see you in New York on Monday.’ So, I gave my notice. Dave and I were best friends and it was a better situation for me.”

That was 1999 and Bassett has been with the group ever since. Peverett passed away from complications with cancer the following year.

However, the band continued. Original drummer Roger Earl remains and the group added singer/guitarist Charlie Huhn along with touring bassist Rodney O’Quinn to round out their current lineup. Foghat was always a group built around the experience of the live performance, and on that front, nothing has changed.

“That goes back to the roots of the band,” Bassett says. “They were always a hard-touring band. They did 200 dates a year back in the heydays, in the 1970s.”

The band continues to make new music, and while they constantly expand the set list, both with older album tracks and newer singles, they will never abandon the classic cuts like “Slow Ride.”

“It’s the climax of our show,” Bassett says. “It’s the last song we play. There’s not much we can play after that. It’s a great song. Dave wrote it. I think of him every night when I’m playing it.”

The song has had many lives over the years, being revived with the advent of classic rock radio, through the soundtrack for the 1993 film Dazed and Confused and on the 2007 video game “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.”

“We’re probably on our third generation of fans now—grandparents, parents and kids—which is great,” Bassett says. “We love keeping the classic rock thing rolling.”

Foghat will play Hollywood Gaming Dayton Raceway, 777 Hollywood Blvd. on Friday, Aug. 17. Doors open at 6 p.m., opening acts Reyna & Dana and the Amy Sailor Band start at 6:30 p.m. and Foghat begins at 9 p.m. Admission is free, but arrive early for best seating. For more information, call 937.235.7559, or visit hollywooddaytonraceway.com. More information about Foghat can be found at foghat.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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