Finally, I made it to see John Fogerty of old CCR fame and on his own since about 1972. December 1, 2007, I had purchased a ticket for his concert at the Murat in Indianapolis, but the weather turned ugly with ice and sleet beginning at about 3:00 in the afternoon preventing me from making the two-hour drive to Indy. I determined that I would get to a concert as soon as one came close again.
I watched off and on for concert dates close to Fort Wayne, but none appeared until I noticed that he was coming to Chicago in November. Now, Chicago wasn’t exactly my idea of close; however, the alternatives were locations all across the country. So I ordered my ticket online and accepted that if it was Chicago, then Chicago it would be. The concert was scheduled for the Auditorium – connected to Roosevelt University.
I did the MapQuest thing, opened my paper maps, and plotted out my route. I don’t have and won’t have a GPS – just another one of those things that takes the place of using your mind and senses. I wasn’t sure just how long it would take me to get to the Windy City, so I took off plenty early. I hadn’t been to Chicago since the summer of 1987 to browse around the “Taste of Chicago.”
I was pretty comfortable with the route up through Valparaiso, but I wasn’t too familiar with the remainder of my path. I knew I had to get onto the Chicago SkyWay, and I was getting extremely nervous about the traffic. The only thing I remembered from my previous trips were the crazy drivers who insisted on weaving in and out of the traffic. I envisioned one of those bat-out-of-hell drivers cutting me off sending me over the side of the bridge. But the SkyWay wasn’t nearly as frightening as I remembered. Perhaps it had to do with my numerous travels in the 22-year interval.
I had driven to San Diego and back by myself – Interstate 5 is a nightmare; I had scurried up and down I-95 in Florida – taking my life in my hands; I had driven back and forth to Florida several times – braving Atlanta – my most-feared City; I had traveled to Staten Island to see my son who was in the Navy; and any number of short hops around the Midwest region.
I arrived well in advance of the concert starting time and was quite surprised to see how close the $20 parking lot was to the auditorium. Since I had plenty of time, I walked around a little bit and grabbed a bite at the DQ across the street – not exactly gourmet Chicago fare, but it was dark and I didn’t want to be wandering around by myself too far from the Auditorium.
I watched the people and traffic as I finished my salad and then headed over to the theater. I went in a back way that another concert goer had suggested and, much to my surprise, I was able to bypass the ticket takers and the gathering crowd in front of the theater. I strolled around the lobby of the theater admiring the beautiful architecture, found a seat in front of my entrance, and relaxed for about 20 minutes until I was allowed to go in.
As the theater filled up, I noticed that most of the crowd – but not all – were people in my age range. I saw people waving to each other from their various positions in the theater and chatting in the aisles. I had followed Fogerty and CCR from the days of the late ’60s; the band’s music and, in particular, Fogerty, had always been my favorites. When many my age have been asked their favorites, the immediate answers usually included the Stones or the Beatles. While I liked both of those groups, I was never enamored of them.
The concert was everything I had expected and more. From the first heart-bouncing beats to the last strings of the encore tune, I was not disappointed. John Fogerty has not lost his voice as I believe has happened to many singers in other older groups. The Blue Ridge Rangers are an eclectic group – from the traditional guitar players to an accomplished “fiddler” (also known as a violinist). The music is heavy on bass – which had me a little worried at first since I could feel many of the notes as if they were originating in my heart and wondered if they might somehow trigger an arrhythmia (it’s the age thing).
As I left the concert hall, I was already looking forward to another Fogerty concert. I had thought about staying overnight, but I decided against it. As I drove out of the Windy City at midnight with Christmas lights and decorations brightly shining, I could still feel the loudness of the music in my ears and I thought how much fun it had been and how silly I was to worry about the drive.
The drive home was tiring, and I had to pull into an all-night truck stop to grab about a 20-minute nap which helped me get through the rest of my drive back to Fort Wayne, pulling my truck up beside my home at 4:00 a.m. What a fantastic time – a concert I will never forget, and a wonderful trip to the Windy City of Chicago.