When it comes to choosing bands for the annual community concert series Rollin’ on the River, who better to tap than a Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute? The original CCR not only has a 1988 album of the same name, but the legendary band’s original drummer, and current drummer in the second installment, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, Doug Clifford, lives right here in Reno. The dots all connect, and luckily, so did Chicago-based tributers Blue Moon Swamp’s lead singer Dan McGuinness, and the park festival’s planner, RN&R General Manager/Publisher John Murphy.
“For a couple of years now we’ve been talking back and forth,” McGuinness says of connecting with Murphy. “He’s a fan of the music, and we liked the event—it’s very fitting for us.”
Coming all the way from the Midwest to play at the month-long series, McGuinness—who says this will be the group’s first time performing locally—and his fellow members are taking the opportunity to mini tour, with planned stops in Utah and California.
“About 97 percent of our shows are usually out of town,” McGuinness concedes, adding that collectively the members of Blue Moon Swamp are primarily travelers for the tribute band alone—they each spend their time at home playing in separate original music outfits.
“I have an original band [on the side]—creatively and artistically, it’s satisfying because people still come to hear my songs, and that’s great,” he admits, in regard to the balance of performing both original and cover material.
While McGuinness was always a fan of CCR, he confesses he never intended to make a living off the music, it just sort of happened that way. Living in Arizona as a kid; McGuinness was a late bloomer to the realm of music—not picking-up a guitar until he was 18. But once he had his music legs under him, the natural performer, who doubles as a sportscaster and actor back home in Chicago, took to his early crowds at the open mics where he’d perform. And they in turn, encouraged him to take it one step further.
“People would tell me to be in a tribute band,” McGuinness admits. “I got approached about it a lot. When I came out to Chicago, I decided to put a foot in the water and test it out, do a couple shows—then people started calling, and it just kept building … tribute bands are really popular right now.”
Part of the automatic appeal could be attributed to McGuinness’ physical similarities to CCR’s legendary singer, John Fogerty. It’s easy to transport yourself back in time—visualizing being front row at one of the original CCR concerts during its hay day in the late ’60s-early ’70s—when McGuinness prances onstage, donning a plaid shirt and bandana—shaggy hair flowing. He’s a prime candidate for being the missing Fogerty brother (the one John and original guitarist Tom Fogerty forgot).
“I’ve heard that I look like him after shows,” McGuinness admits. And when it comes to the performance aspect, he really channels the Fogerty within. “I’m a working actor when I’m on stage, and people respond very well to that. You gotta respect the audience.”
Included in that respect is giving the people what they want—which is, in regard to a tribute band, the hits.
“If you go out there and don’t play ’Proud Mary,’ you might get a shoe thrown at you,” McGuinness says with a laugh. “There’s a reason [the songs] have been around this long—and we acknowledge that. We’re good listeners—even though we’re the ones providing stuff to listen to.”