An iconic musical group with roots in Woodstock and Monterey Pop will be playing at the Ridgestock festival in Chittenango this weekend. WAER’s Chris Bolt and Live Space Entertainment’s Tom Honan got to talk with Canned Heat drummer Fito de la Parra and Manager Skip Taylor about the band’s 50 years of history.
(Full interview of de la Parra and Taylor below)
De la Parra joined the band in 1967, shortly after its inception. He grew up in Mexico City where he was introduced to Rock-and-Roll and blues through music of Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis and others.
“I really fell in love with that kind of music and my dream to come to the United States and play that kind of music started in my head. Eventually I married an American girl and came here in 1966. I was very happy and very luck to join Canned Heat in ‘67”
He remembers the band getting a big popularity boost from the Monterey Pop festival.
Canned Heat suffered a setback later in 1967 when they were arrested for marijuana being present during a gig at the Family Dog club in Denver. Taylor remembers it caused quite a turn in the band’s fortunes.
“We all got arrested and eventually had to hire a high-profile attorney and put up bail. The only way we could get money at that time was to sell the other half of our publishing. Who knew down the road our publishing would become worth literally millions of dollars…and we don’t have any of it. So when we hear a commercial today, like the Geico commercial, with ‘Goin’ Up The Country’, the most played commercial for 26 weeks now, and we get no royalties from it.”
Woodstock presented another positive turn for the band. Taylor and de la Parra remember taking the stage right at sunset one day of the festival.
“It was a magical time and when Canned Heat came on there, 400,000 people rose up out of the rain and the mud,” Taylor said. “And it was truly the most magical moment I’ve ever experienced in the entire, in my lifetime.”
“Woodstock had a lot to do with our success worldwide,” de la Parra added. “…because the festival itself became an icon for everybody to recognize the music of revolution.”
The band continued to play through the years and currently performs in numerous festivals. Taylor recalls Canned Heat recently playing 11 festivals in 6 countries in Europe. They both admit as the band gets older, playing music is fine, but the travel is more uncomfortable.
Still, de la Parra says he practices at home with other musicians, even if there isn’t a gig or a recording session to prepare for…just for the love of playing. The group is hopeful of getting a Blues Foundation lifetime achievement award soon.
Canned Heat will be playing here in Central New York Saturday at the Ridgestock Festival, at the Ridge Tavern in Chittenango. (Information here). Ridgestock, Aug. 19th starting at 2:00 p.m., will also feature Professor Louie and the Crowmatix, Jamie Notarthomas, and Groupo Pagan, among other local musicians.