WHAT: Foghat, Special Guest of Larry the Cable Guy
WHERE: Menominee Nation Arena
1212 S. Main St., Oshkosh, WI 54902
WHEN: 7:30 PM Saturday, January 27, 2018
Iconic rock band Foghat has amassed eight Gold records, one Platinum record and one Double-Platinum record. Formed in London in 1971, the band has experienced numerous personnel changes but has retained its energetic, hard-driving musical style and is recognized for its dynamic live performances. Foghat is best known for such hits as “Slow Ride,” “Fool For the City,” and a cover of “I Just Want To Make Love To You,” written by Willie Dixon. The band continues to put out new music every couple of years. Its well-received latest effort, Under the Influence, was released in 2016.
Foghat will be the first music act to perform at the new Menominee Nation Arena in Oshkosh as the special guest of the evening’s headliner, comedian Larry the Cable Guy, on Saturday, January 27.
Also appearing will be Foghat’s performing aerialist whose stage name is Linn Vixxen. She takes on the persona of the Belly Up Girl on the cover of the Foghat Live at the Belly Up CD. Her real name is Jennifer Meullier. She is a native Oshkosh girl and her father still resides here in Oshkosh. Jennifer is the wife of Foghat Tour Manager/Engineer Randy Meullier. She is very excited to be back home for a few days.
Foghat members consist of founding member Roger Earl (drums, percussion, backing vocals), Rodney O’Quinn (bass, backing vocals), Bryan Bassett (lead guitar, backing vocals), and Charlie Huhn (lead vocals, rhythm guitar).
Interestingly, Earl and his wife Linda partnered with California winemaker (and avid Foghat fan) Steve Rasmussen to create Foghat Wines after the band performed at the California Mid State Fair in 2007 . The name seemed perfect for the brand since fog regularly moves in from the coast, covering the vineyards. The Earls take part in every aspect of wine making and Foghat Cellars’ motto is, naturally, “Music and Wine…Passions Combined.”
Roger Earl recently called me to chat from his houseboat home on Long Island.
Jane Spietz: Hi Roger. To start things off, please share the origin of the band’s name. I believe it has something to do with my favorite board game.
Roger Earl: Hello Jane. You’re right. Scrabble. The late Lonesome Dave (Peverett), our original singer, was playing a game of Scrabble with his brother when they were like 13 or 14. Dave made up the word ‘foghat’. His brother John said, “That’s not a word!” And, sibling rivalry is what it is, but they eventually got it right. Later on we were travelling to see the artwork for our first album. I was driving into London from where we had been rehearsing in Oxfordshire. I said, “Well, what are we going to call ourselves?” It was just me, Lonesome Dave, and Rod Price (late Foghat lead guitarist). We were literally walking up the stairs. The name had come up before and we had a bunch of other names. We said “How about ‘Foghat’?” and everybody said, “Yeah, what’s in a name.” So, we’re Foghat. That’s it. We’ve been called a few other things as well over the years. (Laughs)
JS: What do you feel is the spark that has enabled Foghat to continue to create and maintain opportunities to share its amazing music with multiple generations?
RE: It’s rock ‘n’ roll music. I think right from the beginning we’ve stayed pretty true to what influenced us. Even our biggest hit, “Slow Ride,” is sort of based on a John Lee Hooker riff. We’ve always been a rock ‘n roll blues band, bar one or two songs. I think we had a hit with one ballad, “Third Time Lucky.” Dave used to refer to that as a ‘slow rocker.’ (Laughs) We have a lot of young folks coming to our shows now. Either their parents or older siblings turned them on to it or they heard it through various games, movies, and soundtracks. It feels good that a lot of young people really dig the band. We have a lot of young friends. So maybe we got it right in the first place. It’s all a question of attitude. Everybody who’s ever been in the band has been up for playing. I love what I do.
JS: You have a true passion for the blues. Which blues artist has been the most influential in cultivating your love for this musical genre?
RE: Probably Muddy Waters. When I learned to play drums, Muddy Waters had a live album in 1961, Muddy Waters Live at the Newport Jazz Festival. I heard that record and it was like magic. No one could play like the drummer that was on there. It was just the music, the attitude. I got to meet Muddy later on in life in 1977. And I got to play with him a couple of times in his band. Beautiful man, really fabulous. Had a great attitude. It’s really cool when you meet one of your musical heroes and they are really great people.
JS: You auditioned for the great Jimi Hendrix. Please share that experience.
RE: I didn’t get the job! (Laughs) It was pretty fantastic, actually. I was 20 years old. I got a call asking if I would care to audition. Jimi was very generous. I probably played for 45 minutes or more with him. I’d never heard anybody play that way. It was like completely new music. And then he started playing slow blues and he did a Chuck Berry song. He was very kind. In fact, he came up to me and we sat talking about some songs he’d written the night before. I got to meet him a few times after that. It was a sad day when we lost him. He was real special, unique.
JS: You have stated “We are still a work in progress.” What does that mean for Foghat?
RE: It is true. We change our repertoire each year. We add another two or three songs to keep it fresh. I practice every day, spend an hour or two. I enjoy playing. You can always learn something new. It kind of surprises you. Music is a work in progress. The members of Foghat were always pretty much in charge of the band – what material we did, how we recorded, how we worked, and which producers we worked with. Nobody told us what to do. Pretty arrogant bunch! (Laughs) We were always very much a band. It was never just one person.
JS: Roger, you are an admitted avid fisherman. Do you plan to do some ice fishing during your stay in Wisconsin?
RE: No. (Laughs) If somebody wants to take me out ice fishing, yeah, I’ll go ice fishing with them, no problem. I’m kind of a fair weather fisherman. In fact, I live out on Long Island in a houseboat. It was freezing the other day. It was like 20, 30 below. It was ridiculous. I just don’t like going fishing when it’s that cold. But, I’ll go ice fishing. I have done it before, up in Maine a number of years back with a friend. I don’t think we caught anything.
JS: I saw a clever post on the Foghat Facebook page where CNN displayed a photo of you standing outside in a seemingly frozen pose with the caption “Foghat Drummer Frozen 4 Days, Roger Earl Expected to Thaw Sometime Today.” Your initial reaction to this?
RE: (Laughs) That was during the first snowfall of the year. My wife and I went out for a walk and we took some pictures. It was interesting!
JS: I was fascinated to hear that you live on a houseboat. What is that like?
RE: We had a bunch of pipes break in the recent cold weather so we had no water for a week. Actually, it’s beautiful. Nine months of the year it’s a piece of heaven on earth. For about two months, you’re just trying to keep warm. It’s really special. It’s a very cool place. It’s small, but we have rooms outside the house, an office, and I have a room for practice with my drum set up. I love Long Island. Basically, I’m kind of a local because I’ve been here so long.
JS: Foghat is currently touring with Larry the Cable Guy. Roger, you are always smiling and seeming to enjoy life to its fullest, and you also have a wonderful sense of humor. How does it feel to be performing alongside a comedian such as Larry?
RE: We’ve just got one show booked with Larry so far this year. We’ve talked to Larry and his management about doing some more later this summer. But last year, we did half a dozen shows with Larry and Jeff Foxworthy. They’re really cool, really nice people, not at all like their stage personas. I had heard that Larry was learning to play drums. So, during the first show we did, I figured I’d try and break the ice. I grabbed a pair of my drumsticks and knocked on his door. I went in, introduced myself, and gave him the pair of sticks. I told him I could give drum lessons for $3000 an hour. (Laughs) He saw the humor in it. We invited him to get up and join us on stage. He got up and joined me on drums at the end of “Slow Ride.” He also played guitar on one of the songs. Terrific human being. And a real gas to work with. As well as Jeff Foxworthy, who was a lot of fun, too. Really, really cool guy. We weren’t really sure what’s going to happen. They’re beautiful people, they really are, and really funny. If you’re playing music, and making people laugh, life doesn’t get a lot better. As long as there’s some food around! (Laughs)
JS: Foghat will be the first music act to play at the brand new Menominee Nation Arena in Oshkosh. How great is that? Like smashing a bottle of fine champagne against a ship’s hull during its christening. What can the audience look forward to that evening?
RE: I guess I better bring a bottle of our Foghat red wine and smash that somewhere, right? We don’t have any champagne at the moment. (Laughs) We will be playing all of our hits like “Fool For the City,” and will play one or two songs from our last studio album. And we’re going to try to talk Larry into getting up and jamming with us. He’s a riot. You’re gonna love him. He’s very, very funny. I’m really looking forward to performing in Oshkosh. A good time will be had by one and all.
JS: Roger, thank you for your time. I’m so looking forward to seeing Foghat perform with Larry the Cable Guy in Oshkosh on Saturday, January 27.
RE: It was a pleasure talking to you Jane. Thank you very much.
Photos courtesy of Foghat.