The Long Strange Trip of John Fogerty and Fathom Events
A Discussion on How Fathom Events is Shaping New Directions in Movie Content
by Frank Gonzales/CinéArts (8/22/2019)
On November 11 at theatres across the country Fathom Events will present “John Fogerty – My 50 Year Trip: Live at Red Rocks”, a concert film celebrating fifty years of singing, songwriting and music of one of rock and roll’s most celebrated performers. Recorded in June 2019 concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado, fans can celebrate the music as it happened that night, and enjoy special storytelling moments from Fogerty as he recalls the inspirations and moments that shaped his music over half a century.
CinéArts spoke with Fogerty and to Vice-President of Programming, Business Affairs and Strategy for Fathom Events, Daren Miller, about that special night and how this and many other musical events are putting a new spin on in-theatre programming.
John Fogerty, after all these years, is still the same unaffected guy you’d hope he would be. And it shows every time he steps on stage. This particular show and tour, he said, was a chance to have the fans really enjoy the music chronologically as his career developed. “I’m playing a lot of my hit songs which fans will recognize, but in the context of my 50 Year Trip, which is celebrating my 50th Anniversary.”
For Fogerty it all started in 1969 with a bang! “That year was such a banner year for me and my band Creedence Clearwater Revival because we really blew up in 1969. We released three albums that year so there was a lot of songwriting and producing going on. And of course there was Woodstock!
“That event gathered a bit a publicity, you know! Some of it good and some of it strange, but it was interesting that it happened 50 years ago, so for us boomers it’s something you mark and was part of our lifetime. Credence played really well at Woodstock so I talk about that a bit in the show.”
This opportunity to add more context to an already great concert, was what makes this event so special. It fits perfectly into the mold of content that Miller is looking for as they engage movie theatre audiences. As he said, “Fathom has made a very concerted effort to diversify our overall content portfolio.
“Beyond the Met Opera, which has been a very strong core, we have been expanding into studio and faith-based and anime content, to really diversify. Music is the next opportunity that we’ve identified for growth, and frankly, classic voices like John Fogerty, Lionel Richie, Lynyrd Skynyrd and INXS, to modern groups like BTS and One Direction, have the broad audience appeal that will help us reach that goal.”
Miller acknowledges that contemporary music has its challenges, much like presenting a large-scale opera, but it’s the added value that separate these events from attending the original performance. “The added element, which Fathom does, for instance with the Met Opera, is provide a behind the scenes look, or interviews or other kinds of added value. So a hard core Met fan just eats that up.
“So what appealed with the John Fogerty performance is that he provides a very personal look into the relationship between his music, the journey and the inspiration of his songs. So even if you went to the Red Rocks concert you’re not getting any of that additional information. We add that special, unique value add to the performance.”
Fogerty for his part, does not disappoint. Besides some stellar playing from his band, which features his two sons Shane and Tyler in it, the interstitials between songs are memorable and enlightening. “I was rather surprised when I saw the first version of the filming.
“I was really just listening critically to my performance to make sure that was all ok. But I realized that there was so much information in between songs, and the way the settings of the songs were done were very interesting to me. It was amazing that it captured my attention even after all this time.”
The musician credits his wife for making "John Fogerty – My 50 Year Trip: Live at Red Rocks” so engaging. “My wife Julie put the show together and decided how the songs would be presented. She had heard me talk about stuff over the years and she remembered everything I said! She’d ask ‘do you remember that time you told me about…?’, and other things like that. To me, it was just everyday memories, but she found little parts that were interesting to her, and would probably be of interest to the audience. That’s what surprised me when I sat back and looked at it: it was a lot more interesting than I thought it would be!”
Miller was there on that night in June and knew that this performance would fit right into Fathom’s goals. “I’m a fan and I attended the show, so I was aware the concert was captured. It really clicked off a lot of boxes for Fathom to ask about doing something with it.
“And besides the fact that the show was awesome, the video looked terrific! It told the story of John Fogerty with these interstitials between songs, talking about his inspirations. As a Fogerty fan I was not aware of his motivations or nuances behind his classic songs. So these are the kinds of things that we are excited about and end up serving to that broad movie theatre audience.
“We’re looking to fill out the portfolio over the entire spectrum of music. It’s not about one specific hit per genre or category. Whether it’s a live concert form, or captured live show, to documentaries, these kinds of events really go a long way to expand the theatre offerings to a younger demo. That is clearly something our exhibition partners have an interest in.”
For John Fogerty, this expands his reach and give him a chance to just play and remember the great times touring and playing, and now, performing with his kids. “I started touring again in 1997 after my album Blue Moon Swamp and the offer to tour came up. I told Julie ‘I’m not going out without you.’
“And she looked at me then at the kids and said ‘well I’m not going out without them!’ meaning my two boys. So they’ve gone everywhere with me, my wife and boys and they grew up on the road. So it’s a natural thing to have them with me performing as they are both accomplished musicians with a band of their own. It’s just the best having them in the band and making music with me. These are the kinds of memories I’m excited about now.”
Celebrating 50 years since he played at Woodstock, the new concert film “John Fogerty – My 50 Year Trip: Live at Red Rocks” is showing at cinemas nationwide. Recorded at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado, on June 20th, 2019, as part of John Fogerty’s nationwide “My 50 Year Trip” tour, this concert film includes unforgettable live versions of his hits, “Proud Mary”, “Bad Moon Rising”, “Fortunate Son” and “Centerfield”, along with covers of the Who’s “My Generation”, The Beatles “With A Little Help From My Friends” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Gladys Knight and the Pips.
John Fogerty – My 50 Year Trip: Live at Red Rocks in in Cinemark Theatres on November 11.