This weekend in Sonoma was more awesome than usual. Earlier in the day, Saturday, we attended a release party for one of our favorite wineries. This evening, however, it was a bit of nostalgia. The Plastic Fauxno Band (remember the Plastic Ono Band?), led by Drew Harrison, was performing at the Spreckles Center in Rohnert Park.
The Spreckles Center is the performing arts center completed in 1990 as part of the planned community developed in farmland in Sonoma County as an effort to create a designed community which was ultimately incorporated in 1962. The Spreckles Center was constructed using a bequest from Fred Rohnert along with community development funds as well as other public and private funding. The facility totals 41,000 square feet and houses two theatres. We were in the Nellie W. Codding Theatre which seats 550 patrons. A very nice venue for an intimate performance as this absolutely was.
The Plastic Fauxno Band is the creation of Drew Harrison, a phenomenal talent. Drew has performed in Europe and South America. He also leads a Beatles cover band, the Sun Kings, and performs solo. A tireless performer, Drew books over 100 shows a year, mostly in the Bay Area. Drew has opened for several big name bands, like Steve Miller and Lyle Lovett, and also has a solo album, Go it Alone, which has garnered critical acclaim.
This event was labeled the Concert for John, by some, as Lennon was killed by Mark David Chapman, on December 8th, 1980, outside his apartment, The Dakota, in New York City, before he could ever really perform to large audiences playing his edgy and extremely personal post-Beatles song book. The Plastic Fauxno Band debuted just a year ago in a concert with the same name ‘Love Is the Answer – The Concert for John Lennon’ presenting Drew’s vision of what it might have been like if John had toured in 1982.
The band is an extraordinary amalgamation of exceptional talent including Tiran Porter, bassist with the Doobie Brothers, Tim Gorman, keyboardist with the Who and Jefferson Airplane and Chris Solberg guitarist with Santana as well as Bobby Strickland, saxophonist of Todd Rundgren’s band, Donn Spindt, drummer, of the Rubinoos, and others as well as two strong female vocalists. Musically this ‘band’ was amazing and at times there were 9 musicians on the stage including Bob Lewis on guitar.
The first set was very intense, featuring many of John’s highly self-absorbed and self-revealing songs of angst, abandonment and personal searching for who he was and why he felt the way he did about life. This set included Mother, Crippled Inside, Working Class Hero, and I Found Out all searing examples of Lennon’s gut wrenching experiences in primal therapy and his disillusionment with life and his time as a Beatle.
I have to admit, many of the songs were not known to me as the Lennon music of the time was not all well received by Beatles fans and therefore did not get a lot of airtime until Imagine in 1971. An exception for me was Cold Turkey, a Lennon original composition released in 1969 as a single. The Fauxno Band played this exquisitely and Drew’s anguished screams were real and evocative.
The second set was much more familiar to me with Lennon classics such as Oh My Love, Jealous Guy, What Ever Get’s You Through The Night, I’m Losing You, Woman and of course, the song that became John’s anthem, Imagine.
The musicians in the Fauxno Band clearly share Drew’s love of the Lennon stylings and contributed vocally as well as their amazing instrumental talents. All the Lennon Albums: Plastic Ono Band, Imagine, Double Fantasy, Mind Games, Walls and Bridges, Sometime in New York City, Rock and Roll and the posthumous Milk and Honey were represented in this amazing 2 ½ hour show.