by Adam Gold
There is perhaps no figure in the annals of American music more mythicized and celebrated than America’s answer to Faust, blues forefather Robert Johnson. Followers such as Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and even Jack White would sell their souls to be so much as mentioned in the same breath as their favorite genre’s defining figure. But if you were to compile a list of usual suspects you’d expect to see preaching Johnson’s blues in a vanity project, the name of legendary record producer, soft-rock savant and markedly un-bluesy oddball popsmith Todd Rundgren would probably come up somewhere between Morrissey and Lady Gaga. Nevertheless, with his current Johnson Tour, such is the (bewildering) case, making Rundgren the latest in a long line of heritage acts whose latter-career boredom finds him bringing a steady rollin’ love for the “Crossroads” bluesman to the stage. Enlisting a slick but swampy rhythm section, the result isn’t unlike that of Hall & Oates doing Motown covers. Proceed with caution, but proceed nonetheless.