Thursday, April 1, 2010

Preshow article 4/2/10 show at Bergan PAC

Todd Rundgren will perform at bergenPAC in Englewood
Thursday, April 1, 2010
The Record
"Rundgren likes to keep things fresh on stage";
WHO: Todd Rundgren.
WHAT: Pop-progressive rock.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday.
WHERE: Bergen Performing Arts Center, 30 N. Van Brunt St., Englewood; 201-227-1030 or
HOW MUCH: $29, $39, $49, $69.
Todd Rundgren remembers a diner near Ninth and Spruce, right in the heart of Philadelphia, close to the houses where he would crash. One dollar got you breakfast – an omelet, usually – ideal comfort food for a musician's stomach and wallet.
"So if you were making $25, $40 a week and had no other expenses," Rundgren said, "all you had to do was feed yourself, which you did through frugal street dining and the occasional kind of hippie potluck."
As bands from his neighborhood fought to find their footing, many descended on Wildwood, filling the bars in the hopes some talent scout would spot them.
"I remember us getting one of those gigs," Rundgren said. "It was so far away from what I imagined my life as a musician would be like. … Fortunately we got discovered not too long after that."
Good or bad, he tries not to let memories hem him into a corner. He wants to make a living off his current albums, his current projects, his current passions.
And when he steps onto the stage at bergenPAC Saturday, those passions will take the audience on a trip into blues country.
"I was kind of pleasantly surprised that blues, while not exactly like a bicycle, was one of those things if you embedded yourself in it at a certain point in your musical career, it tends to come back to you," Rundgren said. "The hardest part about it is keeping it simple."
A student of guitar gods Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, Rundgren dabbled in blues, but made his mark as a pop star. He cracked the pop charts more than once ("Hello It's Me" and "Bang the Drum All Day" are two of his better-known songs), but unlike other artists who feel shackled to their hits, Rundgren does not feel compelled to play his at live shows.
"If somebody comes to the show and all they want to hear is a song I recorded 35 years ago, then I would just as soon they kind of stayed home," Rundgren said.
Portions of Saturday's set list will pay homage to those blues guitarists who influenced him. Rundgren said that when he recorded his most recent album (2008's "Arena"), he agreed to also put out an album of Robert Johnson covers.
At first, Rundgren was hesitant.
"He's been covered by everybody," Rundgren said. "Most recently, the artist who has done the most to revive Robert Johnson was Eric Clapton."
Rundgren didn't want the Clapton comparisons. So he tried to put his own spin on Johnson's work. He hopes fans notice the effort that went into the production of those songs, along with the energy Rundgren pours into his gigs.
"For the most part, I still depend on a certain ability to entertain people musically," Rundgren said. "Once they get in and hear how much commitment there is behind the performance of music, they will drop their preconditions and just get into the show."

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