By Peter Sloggatt
“Slow ride… take it easy.”
If you’re of a certain age – and its not an age with a label like Gen X, Y, Z or millennial – when you read that line you automatically sing it in your head. You hear the guitar rhythm, bob your head to it.
“Slow ride… ”
Maybe you play a little air guitar.
“… take it easy.”
What you don’t really think about is how Foghat failed to take its own advice.
You see, the Brit-based band could be one of the hardest working bands in rock and roll. They’ve been at it since the 70s and over the past 40 years they’ve pretty much stayed the course. They have yet to take it easy.
Foghat rocks hard and plays hard. At their peak in the late 1970s, “Slow Ride” and “Fool For The City” were all but burned into people’s minds. The tracks got plenty of airplay and the band’s infectious, high-energy sound made sure you sang – and air-guitared – along.
And because you listened to the radio, you knew the band by name. From the constant commercials on the airwaves, it seemed Foghat was always playing someplace local: Spit, The Stone Pony maybe.
Live performances are the heart and soul of Foghat, says drummer Roger Earl, one of the group’s founding members and now both a US citizen and Long Islander. While the touring pace may have slowed, “we still do 50 to 70 shows a year,” Earl said.
A show like the one they’ll bring to The Paramount on Aug. 9 will have the hits. You’ll hear “Slow Ride,” “Fool For The City” and “Stone Blue.” You’ll get your “Driving Wheel,” and maybe that awesome cover of Willie Dixon’s “I Just Wanna Make Love To You.”
And then, who knows…
“We try to throw four or five new songs in the set to keep it fresh,” Earl said.
Performing is a part of Earl’s roots. When he’s not on stage himself, he’s watching someone else.
“My father took me to see Jerry Lee Lewis when I was 12,” he said. When he 14 he started heading to Soho where he’d catch acts like The Yardbirds, and the Rolling Stones at the Marquis. And while it’s the first time Foghat will play The Paramount stage, it won’t be Earl’s first trip to the venue. The drummer said he’s caught shows by guitar great Buddy Guy and Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty at the venue.
“Fantastic venue. I’m looking forward to playing there,” he said. And that’s coming from a guy who’s played more than a fair share of concert halls over the past five or six decades.
“I joined my first band when I was 16 or 17… me and some of my fellow schoolmates. It was all about being in a band,” Earl said, adding he’s been with his present band longer than he hasn’t.
“And I still get chills before I go out,” he said. “It’s not until I sit at the drums and count, one, two, three, four… Then I relax.”
That and when he’s fishin’, which is one reason why since 1973 Earl has called Long Island home.
Catch Foghat at The Paramount Aug. 9, 8 p.m. Tickets run $19.50 to $65 at the Paramount box office, or visit paramountny.com.