CUBBY BEAR NORTH - Lincolnshire, IL. - 04/16/2010

Review by Bob Fahrner (Switch to

My name is Raymond J. Johnson, Jr. Now, you can call me Ray, or you can call me J, or you can call me Johnny, or you can call me Sonny, or you can call me Junie, or you can call me Ray J, or you can call me RJ, or you can call me RJJ, or you can call me RJJ Jr., ... "BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO CALL ME JOHNSON !"

Yes, Todd Rundgren blew into Lincolnshire, Illinois to promote his new album called "Todd Rundgren's Johnson," which is comprised of blues legend Robert Johnson cover tunes. The Cubby Bear North is a sizable, yet intimate club in Lincolnshire, which is located in the far northwest suburbs of Chicago. The room is very wide, but not very deep (I think I was about 15-20 feet from the stage).

Todd is the only artist I know, who can promote an album in concert before it is actually released, although a 3-song MP3 EP-style package called "Todd Rundgren's Short Johnson" has been available on Amazon and other such download sites for several weeks. Same thing happened with "The Individualist" and "Arena" albums, to name a few.

The show commenced at approximately 8:45pm and continued for a very generous 2+ hours. The way it went was that they would play two Johnson tunes and then two Rundgren songs - a pattern repeated throughout the evening.

They opened with "I'm goin' get up in the mornin', I believe I'll dust my broom..." (Dust My Broom - Robert Johnson). You know, I've been to blues bars in downtown Chicago several times. I've seen Lefty Dizz, Willie Dixon and John Lee Hooker. The Rundgren's Johnson performance evoked that very same get-down feeling as these Chicago blues legends. No kidding, people were boppin' up & down and stomping their feet.

These guys do not play blues like some pale imitation of a ZZ-Top cover band. They explored every nook and cranny of these classic Johnson tunes and came up with original sounding rock renditions, much in the same way that Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton did in the '60s. These songs rocked harder than most rock songs have ever rocked.

About 1/3 of the way through the performance, Todd announced that "It's great to be back here at the 'Shire," which I found strange, because I don't believe he had ever set foot in Lincolnshire in his entire life, unless he once clandestinely snuck into town to capture a Debbie Reynolds revue at the Drury Lane Theater (she's BIG here). But, we digress.

Rundgren dipped deep into his catalog and supplemented the show with his songs that he says were an evolution of the blues ("Mystify", "Open My Eyes", "Unloved Children"). For the very few who had barely ever heard of him, Rundgren performed "I Saw The Light." He also graced us with gems such as "Black Mariah", "Born to Synthesize", "Weakness" and "Soul Brother."

Todd: We need Blu-Rays of your last 3 tours. Put 'em out & we'll buy 'em all !

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4/16/2010 - Cubby Bear North - Lincolnshire, IL

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