Gary James' Interview With Dan McGuinness Of
Creedence Clearwater Revival Tribute
Blue Moon Swamp
Dan McGuinness is John Fogerty! In his Creedence tribute group Blue Moon Swamp, that is. Dan fills us in on how Blue Moon Swamp came to be.
Q - Dan, you bear such a strong resemblance to John Fogerty and you can certainly sing like him. I'm just wondering, could you have a Creedence tribute act where the singer doesn't necessarily look like John Fogerty or sound like him? Would that work?
A - There's a few out there that do both, a lack there of I guess. I don't know how well it works for them. I'm proud of it. Several people have told me, "You kind of look like a young John" or "sound like him." I don't necessarily think I sound like him. I feel for myself, or anybody else, as long as you resemble it and am able to sing it with the same growl, or pull it off and do it respectfully I guess is what was looking for. There are certain phrasings I try to do that are on each song. I'm very happy with the way I do it. But as long as you sing it and play it like the records, like people are used to hearing it, that's really what matters most. People know they're not looking at Creedence or Fogerty when you're onstage. As long as you do a respectable job in portraying it, it should work, hopefully.
Q - It's probably not necessary to have guys in a Creedence group who look like
Doug Clifford or Stu Cook, is it? The public doesn't look at that, do they?
A - No, and that's one of the reasons I went with the name Blue Moon Swamp, because we're a Fogerty and CCR tribute band. It kind of gives me the green light to be a modern day blend of current Fogerty, old CCR, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, because in Revisited their lead singer obviously sings and plays rhythm guitar. Fogerty sings and plays lead guitar. So, we're kind of a perfect blend of the entire history of the band. So, with having it as Blue Moon Swamp, it's more of say a focus on me because of being John Fogerty and then having his band behind him kind of a thing. I was in a Creedence tribute before where wigs were involved and the bass player was trying to look like Stu Cook, People would say to me, "Your drummer doesn't look like Doug Clifford" and I wanted to say "Really? Seriously? Does that matter?" I realize there's certain tribute bands like The Beatles, you kind of have to, if that's what they're looking for. Blue Moon Swamp is more of a Fogerty first and Creedence kind of a thing. They did sort of go hand-in-hand. That way it's kind of like John Fogerty and his touring band.
Q - Did you actually open for Creedence Clearwater Revisited?
A - I have it on my website, kind of a sideways mention. I'm friends with them. They kind of don't want me out there announcing this, but I actually performed with them. In the past, their singer has gotten sick or was unable to perform. They brought me in to sing lead vocals with them.
Q - You mean in concert?
A - Yeah.
Q - Just once?
A - We did it four times all total. Out of respect to their singer, John, I don't go blasting it. The last time I did it, we did a couple of shows in October (2011) and they gave me a nice mention on their Facebook page. I have it on the website, so when someone thinking of booking us will go "Whoaa... did you play with them?" And I'll just say "Yes." It is kind of public knowledge. Stu doesn't want me out there, going "You're doing what?" They're friends of mine. Out of the four shows I did with them, two of them were actual public concerts. It's out there. I just don't go out there saying "I played with 'em! I played with 'em!" Personally I don't want that to be what people remember me for. I hope I accomplish more than that.
Q - That two of those shows were public concerts means the other two were private parties?
A - Yeah. Two of 'em were corporate functions. Most recently we performed in a casino down in Mobile, Alabama.
Q - The casinos can't seem to get enough tribute acts.
A - We do a bunch. In the last eight years the tribute business that I've seen has really taken off. A lot of the bands are dying off or getting old. So if you're a good tribute band, you'll stay busy, hopefully.
Q - Where is the audience for Creedence music these days? Do you play bars?
A - In the Winter time, things everywhere slow down. We've done clubs. We very, very rarely, even when we were starting out, do the nine to ones or the eight to twelves. I do a ton of them on my own in other projects. I'll get an e-mail or a phone call asking "what's your price for an eight to twelve?" I'll say "will all due respect, we don't do that. If Fogerty and Creedence won't do it, we're not gonna do it, 'cause I want to do what they're doing." For the most part, we do our ninety minute, industry standard concerts or two hours or whatever. The audience, as far as age groups, have been all over the place, I'd say leaning a little towards the older crowd. I've been to Fogerty concerts and Creedence concerts and I just go and I'm a face in the crowd. There all over. It's great. The music is still very, very popular.
Q - When was the first time you saw Creedence in concert?
A - It was back when they were first starting out. I think it was around '95. I didn't know anything about the history. I was sitting out there and I had been listening to their band for a little while. I was in high school then. I'm looking on stage and I said "Oh, I guess that Fogerty guy isn't here." I knew that one of them passed away, but I didn't know if it was John or Tom. So Doug and Stu went out on the road. They had Elliot Easton from The Cars at that time, for many years actually. I saw them in Chicago. They asked me, "so, how did you get involved with us?" I'm just sitting there, "well, I saw you guys for the first time in 1995 at Rosemont, Illinois." It ended up being like their first tour. It was really cool to see them at the beginning. It still blows me away that years and years later, I got to play with them.
Q - As you're singing Fogerty's songs, are you aware that nobody was writing the kind of songs he was at the time. I'm talking about songs like "Lodi" and "Lookin' Out My Back Door". That's part of the reason why John Fogerty and Creedence were so great and are so great.
A - Yeah. That's one of the things when I was in high school, I'm dating myself here, in the mid '90s, the Pearl Jam and all that. Seattle blast was out, which I was heavily into, but it was my Junior year, right around the time Revisited started heading out there and Dick Biondi was huge in Chicago radio, big everywhere, but he loved Creedence. He played it all the time on the "Oldies" station. So I heard that at the time and by then it was a good twenty-five years old, but it was still so new and fresh to me because of what Fogerty was writing and singing about. Oddly enough, "Lodi" was the song that grabbed me. All the other ones, I'd buy a CD and go "Oh my God, that's them!" It was one of those bands where every song you heard, you'd know it. Again, I was into all the other stuff, but it was so different and I was really the only one who was into that music. Other people were into The Doors 'cause a lot of kids liked to smoke funny things in high school, so they were all into the drug-influenced bands like The Dead. Creedence was so fresh and pure for me. I just fell in love with it immediately.
Q - When did you put your first Creedence tribute act together?
A - It was about 2005 or 2006. I collaborated with another guy in Chicago. For years I had been singing and people would say "Ever think about doing a CCR tribute band?" I started out playing those songs, so I kind of went that direction, for that sound at least. I get back to Chicago after living in Arizona for several years and some guy says "Have you ever..." and I'm like "Yeah. I've been asked that before." So we kind of worked together and did a website. That initial part of the band is the one that were doing wigs and it was just silly 'cause we weren't focusing on the music. It absolutely drove me nuts, so I went in a different direction and I actually brought some of the band with me and started Blue Moon Swamp. So it was about 2006.
Q - When you're not doing Blue Moon Swamp, you're doing voice-overs?
A - I've been working in and out of radio, sports broadcasting for ten or twelve years and always liked it. I've done a little acting. Anything entertainment, media, I'm just fascinated by it. Being in Chicago, all my friends are film students. I just tell them "if you ever need a voice-over..." I've done a lot of PSAs (Public Service Announcements). I've had radio shows for a few years. I was a minor league baseball announcer for a few years. I could be doing baseball announcing or music and I could be equally as happy. I love it all. I guess a microphone will sum up my entire life. (laughs)