By Pat Prince
When vocalist “Lonesome” Dave Peverett died from cancer in 2000, he took a bit of Foghat with him. However, a vocalist he admired named Charlie Huhn— who last sang with Humble Pie — now carries on the torch by fronting the well-known, blues-based, classic rock of Foghat.
In recent years Foghat decided to make a dream of Lonesome Dave’s a reality: release an all-blues record, writing blues originals and covering songs from the masters. And that is exactly what the band did by releasing the album “Last Train Home,” a firehouse of an album that includes the guitar mastery and engineering aptitude of Bryan Bassett, and musical guests such as well-admired blues guitarist Eddie Kirkland.
How did the idea of putting out a blues record come around? It’s something that the band has thought about for a long time.
Roger Earl: Actually, Dave (Peverett) talked about it years ago, about doing an album of all blues songs, and we never got around to doing just that. Lots of albums that we’ve done would have one or two songs, like our first single “I Just Want to Make Love To You,” and some people maybe thought that we ruined that.
Far from it.
RE: Yeah, far from it. Willie Dixon was happy because he was getting money from the first album because he wrote it. And when we did the live album in ‘77 (“Foghat Live”), it was released as a single again, and again a hit record, so …
And now you’ve made Lonesome Dave’s dream — of putting out an all-blues record — a reality.
Bryan Bassett: We did. Actually, it used to be a sort of ritual of ours. After each performance we would go back to the bus and listen to blues records. We talked about it for years and never had opportunity to do it .
I think Lonesome Dave would be very proud of this album.
BB: That’s good to hear, because I felt like Dave was on my shoulder the whole time.
Charlie Huhn: I personally always keep him in my thoughts, and he gives me motivation. It’s like he’s still here coaching. And he always has, always will. His effort will always go recognized in my book. He’s one of my mentors. I’ve had several shoes to fill in my history, but it’s his guidance, and I appreciate your comment.
BB: What I appreciate about Charlie is the way he’s able to cover Dave’s songs, with the same approach to performing, interacting with the crowd and rocking out.
Over the years, Foghat has gotten the chance to jam with many blues legends.
RE: Yes, that’s a highlight of my life, definitely. We did a show for the New York Public Library (Blues Benefit for the NY Public Library in 1977). They didn’t have any sort of collection of blues records. And Dave was really keen on doing it. We were doing the “Stone Blue” album at the time, and Foghat was basically the house band for Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Otis Blackwell, Johnny Winter, Eddie Kirkland ... When we met Eddie, he used to play with John Lee Hooker, in the early ’50s, in Detroit, and we met Eddie the week we were doing rehearsals in the New York City. Eddie had a band there and they were just horrible, so Eddie said to our manager, ‘Can you get rid of them?’ They were young. they didn’t know how to play, so we backed Eddie. And I would play for Eddie Kirkland anytime, anywhere, anyhow. He’s an absolute gem. He’s got a great voice still. He’s a great guitar player. So now we recorded seven or eight songs down in Florida with Eddie and we only had room for two of them on the new album.
CH: 86 years old, still real fresh. Prolific writer.
How did you arrange for him to come into the studio?
CH: We asked his agent and manager when he was available. He had just gotten back from Europe. He drove his car down. We sat in the living room and played for a day.
Eddie just fit right in?
RE: The first couple of songs, it was a little tentative, I think. I don’t think Eddie was really sure quite what was gonna go on.
CH: And he changed stuff all the time, just like a real blues guy. All of sudden it was like, boom, you were into the four-chord, a measure early, and you’re like, “Okay. I’m following you.”
RE: And by the time we got around to the third song, I think Eddie realized we were there for him. And then it was great.
How did you choose some of the songs on the new album ... the ones from other blues artists?
CH: Well, we all had our favorite blues songs that we’d grown real close to over the years. And then Roger said, “Well, we have to do some Savoy Brown songs, too. So what about “Needle and Spoon?’ And I said, ‘Yeah!’ I used to drive hours to see Savoy Brown in the late ’60s, so this was all coming full circle. And we knew we had to write some originals, too. It’s fun to get that stuff out, too, because it’s got to come out.
Speaking of Savoy Brown, do you still keep up with Kim Simmonds?
RE: I think Kim has been playing better than he ever has. His guitar playing is great. We talk two or three times a year and we see each other.
CH: Boy, if Savoy Brown ever got back together, I’d buy the first ticket!
Savoy Brown is known as a British band that did better in the States. But when I first found out years ago that Foghat was a British band, I was surprised.
RE: We grew up listening to American music. Everybody sang with American accents.
CH: People who are younger and their influence wasn’t from Savoy Brown, probably didn’t know the history of the band Foghat by listening to just radio airplay. You can research and learn about the history of the group but a lot of people didn’t do that either. Early on, they (Foghat) couldn’t get arrested over in their own home country.
This new album can also be about turning a younger generation onto the blues, too.
CH: Yeah, they’re the ones that really need to learn about it.
Well, kids see the band on things like Guitar Hero, then they know about Foghat. They see this album and might say, ‘Wow, what’s this stuff?’
CH: Guitar Hero’s been really good to the band, in that it has introduced us to the younger generation. Now, as far as introducing the younger generation to the blues … I don’t really know how to do that, but I think that once they hear and realize that we are a blues-influenced band they will put the connection together.
Now, the name “Last Train Home” … it doesn’t have any farewell statement to it, does it?
CH: Oh, no. It’s just about a relationship that went bad and the title kind of just stuck. So there’s no underlying, subliminal message there.
RE: What you can do is play the CD backwards, and then you’ll be enlightened. (laughs)
CH: Yeah, hold it under a black light.Which in the ’70s, many probably would have done.
Putting this album aside for a moment, what Foghat album are you most fond of?
RE: The first album, which we did with Dave Edmunds. I am particularly fond of that, the way Dave Edmunds actually pulled it all together for us. He was fabulous to work with. All the arrangements to the songs were pretty much there and we were struggling trying to mix it ourselves in various studios.
Then we got to Rockfield Studios, and Dave Edmunds had the night shift and we finally said to him, ‘Dave, can you help us out on this?’ and it came to the point where he would say ‘Let me play piano on this. You need piano right there.’ or ‘Let me try my guitar on this one for you.’ And the next thing we knew he’s producing our album. Thank you, Dave. Incredible player and engineer.
The band had just played a NASCAR event, playing the national anthem, with mixed reactions I’ve heard.
BB: We played that as a band. Me, personally, it was great. It’s an honor for me and to my patriotism and we’re honored to do it. It was our first performance of doing it and we wanted to do it very plainly so people can sing along with us. And we wanted to show our support for the military overseas.
Now, after touring to support this album, what’s next for Foghat?
CH: We haven’t put our finger on exactly what we want to release next. Right now, we just keep writing and recording, stay productive, stay active.
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