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Interview: Musician Randy Linder discusses his tribute to John Fogerty and CCR

Randy Linder
Courtesy of Randy Linder, used with permission

Randy Linder and his travelin’ tribute band will be making their way down to the Paradise Performing Arts Center on Saturday, June 21, to perform the hits of Creedence Clearwater Revival. The doors will open at 7, and the show begins at 8 p.m.

Advanced tickets are $24 can be purchased in Paradise at Grocery Outlet; Izzy’s Burger Spa; PostNet; and World Printing. Tickets can also be purchased at Jaki’s Hilltop Cafe in Magalia, as well as The Music Connection and Herreid Music in Chico. An additional $4 will be added to tickets purchased at the door on the day of the event. Children and teenagers can purchase their tickets for $20 at the door.

The Chico Events Examiner recently conducted an over-the-phone interview with Linder before he performed at a venue in his home state of Washington. Linder talked about how he originally had no plans to start a tribute band and how his opinion of them has changed now that he created one. He also opens up about the bands that inspired him to be a musician and how it feels to be the second result in a Google search of “Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute bands.” Check out the full interview below.

David Wangberg: I saw on your website that the list of places at which you performed doesn’t include Paradise. Will this be your first time in the area?

Randy Linder: Yes, it will. It will be the first time being in Paradise. I’ve played several times at the Cascade Theatre in Redding, Calif. That would be the closest place I’ve performed to that area.

DW: And it looks like you’ll be going from Paradise to the Cascade Theatre the next day.

RL: Yeah, that’s the place I’ve played several times. This will probably be our fifth time back there over the last few years doing the Creedence show.

DW: I came across another interview you did, and you were talking about how you missed out on a lot of the grunge music that took place in your home state of Washington. If there was a way for you to travel back in time and revisit that era, when bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam were just starting off, would you go back and see one of their local concerts, if you knew that someday they would be considered classic rock?

RL: Absolutely, because they did a few gigs, before they were popular, in my hometown of Olympia. You bet, you know, if I could have seen into the future and known that they were playing anywhere around there, I would have loved to be able to say that I saw them some little teeny club..

DW: Is there a band from Washington that you could say you saw them play before they became popular?

RL: No, not really. When I was in junior high school, that’s when Jimi Hendrix became famous, you know. I was a little bit too young at that point in time to be out and about and seeing acts and so on. There really aren’t any of them that I caught before they became famous.

DW: In that same interview, you also said that during the 90s, you never thought you would do a tribute band.

RL: That’s true. I started the tribute band in the year 2000, and up until then, I really did not know that doing a tribute band was in my future. As it’s turned out, it made a very positive difference in my career, but it wasn’t until about the year 2000 that I just made the observation that tribute bands were such a big business.

And now I’m of the opinion that they’re a very important thing, because it would really be a shame if the only way you got to see something that would be like a Creedence concert, for instance, is if you had been the right age and in the right place at the right time. But because of good tribute bands, you can kind of relive the past and enjoy it.

DW: And what’s great about them is I’m 29, and a lot of the tribute bands that have been coming through Paradise are all of bands I’ve never seen live. I grew up listening to them, but I’ve never seen them live, so this is great to see a good tribute band do a live performance.

RL: Have you enjoyed some real good ones there in Paradise?

DW: Yes, I have. We had a Johnny Cash tribute show; an Elvis Presley tribute show; The Beach Boys; and The Beatles. We’ve had a lot of them come through, and they’ve been really fun to attend.

RL: I agree. I went and saw The Fab Four, the Beatles tribute show, here in Washington, and really enjoyed it. I’m a big fan of The Beatles, and I enjoyed that.

DW: Back to before you started your tribute show. What would the Randy Linder to whom I’m speaking now say to the 90s Randy Linder, who was kind of hesitant on starting a tribute band?

RL: I would say, “Wake up and smell the coffee.” I used to think that all that tributes meant was a tribute to Elvis, because that’s all I thought about when I thought of a tribute. Elvis tributes were basically what came out first. Before, I just didn’t give the tribute industry its due, you know. Now, I realize that it’s a huge industry.

I just signed an exclusive contract with a tribute company called The Tribute Trading Company. And they’ll be booking me and about 20 other tribute bands all over the country, and we’re all signed exclusively with that company. It’ll mean that my career is going to take another big jump right now. But, back in the 90s, I just did not realize that was a possibility, and now I do.

DW: I was doing a quick Google search of all of the Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute bands, and I actually just typed that into Google. And you came up listed as the second result. The first was a Chicago-based tribute band called Fortunate Sons. So, what does being the second result in a Google search mean to you? Does it have any meaning to you at all?

RL: Well, it means that I get a few phone calls, you know, and I get to make a bid on a few more gigs than if I wasn’t on there. It takes a while to reach that. You have to get yourself out there and play several shows. One of the things about the Internet is it really opens up the whole world to you. I’ve gotten calls to do things that I’ve done that I never would have been able to do if it wasn’t for the Internet, because they wouldn’t have gotten my number without it.

DW: And I saw that you’ve played not just in the United States, but you’ve played in different countries as well, which is really fascinating. Is that because they’ve all contacted you on your web page?

RL: Those two jobs that I did out of the country – one was in Mexico and one was in Guam – were as a result of people I’ve worked with in the business before from Reno. One contact was from Carson City and one was from Reno.

I used to play with an Eagles tribute band down in Arizona, and I did my Creedence set with them. And they got the job in Mexico and that was a real treat, because that was the largest crowd I played for – 14,000 people.

And another one of the musicians that knew those people I met through them. When he got a chance to go to Guam, he wanted to do a variety show, and I was doing [a Bob Seger tribute] at the time. So, he hired me to come and be Bob Seger in Guam, and I just enjoyed that tremendously. But those two gigs were as a result of just knowing people in the business.

DW: I saw that you also do an acoustic tribute to Fogerty. For this upcoming Paradise show, is it going to be a mix of acoustic and electric, or is it just going to be electric?

RL: It’ll all be electric. It’ll be a 90-minute Creedence concert just very much as it would have been back in the day. When I saw Creedence for the first time in 1969, I was in ninth grade. My first rock concert I ever saw was Creedence.

DW: A lot of their songs are no more than three minutes long; they’re all very short songs. How much do you usually perform in a 90-minute set?

RL: 22 songs. Some of the songs are short, but some of them are long like “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” runs about 10 minutes [and] “Suzie Q” runs about seven or eight minutes. A few of them are long songs, but most of them are pretty short songs.

DW: Yeah, one of my friends posted on his Facebook page a music video for “Fortunate Son,” and it’s only a two and a half minute song.

RL: Yeah, we extend it a little bit.

DW: Oh, yeah, because it’s live.

RL: Yeah, we extend it a little and throw in some guitar solos and more stuff in it.

DW: I read on your website that you have been in the music business since 1968, the year in which Creedence started becoming successful. At that time before you saw them in concert and before you came across them, who were the bands to whom you listened and inspired you to become a musician?

RL: The Beatles [were one of the bands]. And, when I was in eighth grade, my very first band was an instrumental band called The Reflections, and we were inspired greatly by the instrumental group called The Ventures. The Ventures played instrumental versions of some songs that also had vocal versions of them. They also played a lot of cool songs that were written as instrumentals.

DW: This is my last question for you. Usually, when I think of classic rock, I think of all the stuff from the 60s through the 80s, and there are even some 90s bands that get played on the radio like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. For this genre, do you think there’s a cutoff point, or do you think in 20 or 30 years, we’ll hear music [released] now being considered classic rock?

RL: I don’t. I think there is a cutoff point. Now, I could be wrong on that, and I could just be prejudice because of my age. But I’m a firm believe that I was really lucky to be growing up when I did, because I think the classic rock… rock music started about 1955. Through, basically, let’s say 1975, I think all the real classic rock is right in there. I mean, certainly, there are lots of rock songs that came out from 1975 to 1985, for instance, that are also really big classic rock songs.

But I really don’t think that the songs that are coming out now and that came out all through the 90s will be as big as classic rock material as our classic rock is now. But, like I say, I could be wrong about that. That’s just my opinion.

Look at all of the songs from 1965 through 1970 that came out that are just anthem songs; everybody knows those songs. Not many songs from 1980 through 1990 are that recognizable to the masses.

Again, I could be wrong about that; that’s my opinion. I just really think that the songs that I was lucky enough to grow up with are the most important. They certainly are to me.

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