Right in the midst of the dog days of summer, with temperatures around Southern California settling into the mid-90’s, a trip to the beach can be a welcome break from the heat. Situated just a few hundred yards from the sands of the coastline, the Ventura County Fair is a great place to gain respite from that heat. As part of its Grandstand Entertainment series, the annual convention offers acts that range from comedians, to country music, Latin artists and early rock. On this August day, one of the two classic rock artists to entertain the fair goers is the 1970’s born, blues, boogie woogie veterans, George Thorogood and the Destroyers.
As the sun begins to set and the cool evening breeze settles in over the grandstand and the lights of the midway begin to glow in the distance, Lonesome George and his Delaware Destroyers take the stage as Thorogood, sans guitar, saunters across the stage, waving and manually greeting the crowd. His tech enters the stage and delivers his guitar, which he slings over his head and then steps out to the edge of the stage, leans over, grins and extends his arms as if to say, “I’m here!”
Thorogood and company, Jeff Simon drums, Billy Blough bass, Jim Suhler rhythm guitar and Buddy Leach, saxophone and piano take the swelling crowd 40 years in the past. Simon and Blough are the longest tenured members of the band, both have been present for the entire recording career of the group. Rock Party, is the first number, which The Destroyers impart with great vigor. Next up is the old Bo Diddley tune, Who Do You Love?, which casual fans may think is an original number. Thorogood has made a four decade long career out of recording and performing blues standards and presenting them to the masses in an accessible manner, exposing rock music fans to the foundation on which rock n’ roll was erected.
In between songs Thorogood delivers his cheesy jokes which the audience eat up, even though they are tired, overused and not really original. All the same, those in attendance enjoy them as if being bestowed by George Carlin. The jokes range from the morally questionable character of the band to extolling his own sexual prowess. One realizes, the way these one-liners are received is just part of his charm. As the evening progresses and hits the meat of the set, four of his five most recognizable songs are performed, three of which are original compositions. Thorogood delights the gallery with I Drink Alone, Get A Haircut, the John Lee Hooker popularized One Bourbon, One Scotch and One Beer, and what is his most defining number, Bad to the Bone.
The roughly 90 minute performance rounds out with a few upbeat tunes, Twenty Dollar Gig and Move It On Over. Born to Be Bad, another Destroyers’ original completes the presentation. The First Staters exit the stage at 9:00 pm, releasing the fair goers to take advantage of two more hours of exhibits, nausea inducing rides and the enjoyment of a multitude of foods, deep-fried on a stick.
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