ANTIOCH -- Most weekends, Roger Earl sits at his drum kit directly under the Foghat banner hung at the back of the stage. On that banner is the iconic Foghat logo, with its big, rounded letters drawn with thin, elegant lines.
The horizontal lines seem to show the logo in motion, always pushing forward. There's a sweeping curve dominating the F. And the perfect, oversized circle forming the descender of the G. Or maybe it's the driving wheel of a locomotive.
That logo has been hanging over Earl for 40 years now, ever since the art department at Warner Brothers Records designed it for the band's "Energized" album.
So what exactly is the font being used?
"Funny you should mention that," Earl chuckles, on the phone from his house boat on Long Island, N.Y. "I used to be a commercial artist in my previous life. I know what a font is."
He goes on to explain that when the band was working on its 2003 album, "Family Joules," he wanted the album title in the same font. But the only letters the art department had done were "F" "O" "G" "H" "A" and "T."
"I have started to do the entire alphabet," Earl said, with another chuckle.
Call it Fogfont. And it's just one more step along an improbable road. Earl has been Foghat's drummer since he helped form the band in 1971, and is the sole remaining original member. The band, still going strong, will play the Contra Costa County Fair in Antioch at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The fair runs from Thursday to Sunday at the County Fairgrounds, 1201 West 10th St.
These days, the touring schedule is a little more relaxed for Foghat. They "fly in" to shows on weekends rather than touring around the country with their equipment. A back-line company makes sure drums and amplifiers are at each show ready to go and set to the band's specifications.
Earl said in the old days, the band would take its equipment right to the tarmac to load it on the plane.
"That's not going to happen now," he joked. "You can't come onto the tarmac now. You could be a criminal or a terrorist."
There's also flexibility in the arrangement. On the afternoon of this interview, Earl had just gotten off the phone setting up a last-minute show at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut on Memorial Day weekend.
He also had just celebrated his 68th birthday with the band playing a show just outside Dallas.
"Actually, the party lasted three days," Earl said, adding that it wasn't "like it used to be" -- a cheeky reference to the excess of the '70s perhaps?
"You know what happens when you stop celebrating birthdays," Earl asked. "You don't have birthdays anymore."
There's no sign Earl is slowing down. In the past few years, he and his wife, Linda, have worked with Paso Robles winemaker Steve Rasmussen on a line of fine wines -- called Foghat Cellars, naturally. Earl, as with everything, is hands-on.
"It's a lot of fun," he said. "I go out and help with the harvest. I really enjoy it. The people who actually pick the grapes work extremely hard. I'm nowhere near as good at picking as they are. I start about 10 feet ahead of them, and they catch up.
"It's worked really well. I'm not making any money, but it's fun."
Many people are familiar with Foghat for its run of hits in the '70s. The band produced eight gold albums, including 1977's "Foghat Live," which sold more than 2 million copies. Hit singles included "Slow Ride," "Fool For the City" and "I Just Want To Make Love To You."
A new studio album is due early next year. Earl said the band has finished nine tracks so far.
Foghat's signature sound is a danceable boogie blues and, according to Earl, it's translating to a new generation.
"People seem to be genuinely excited to see us," he said. "We also see a lot of younger people come to see us. They either found out from their parents, grandparents or Guitar Hero.
"I think the band is still valid. Rock and roll is American music, it's here to stay, it's going to be here forever and ever."
What: Contra Costa County Fair
When: Thursday through Sunday
Where: County Fairgrounds, 1201 West 10th St., Antioch
Details: Foghat will perform on the main stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday. For more fair information, call 925-757-4400 or visit www.contracostafair.com