UNCASVILLE — After a singing career that has spanned 53 years, David “Lefty” Foster — an iconic figure in the Connecticut roots music world — is about to play his last gig Dec. 20 at Mohegan Sun’sWolf Den.
Showtime will be 8 p.m.
Foster, best known as one of the owners of the legendary Shaboo Inn in Williamantic — which brought some of blues-based music’s biggest stars to eastern Connecticut — as well as for his role as front man of the Shaboo All-Stars and later the Mohegan Sun All-Stars, announced his retirement due to health issues Tuesday.
When Mohegan Sun opened, Foster helped form Mohegan Sun’s first and only “house band,” David Foster & The Mohegan Sun All-Stars, who have performed for more than 20 years. The band was inducted into the Wolf Den Hall of Fame on June 15, 2015.
Foster, also known as D.A. Foster, reached by phone Tuesday, said he wasn’t looking to retire but has reached a point at which he has to.
“I’m so against retirement. I hate retirement and I never considered myself a candidate for it,” said Foster, 69. But “I’m getting up in years and when you reach this age, anything can happen.”
He said he has health issues, which he did not want to discuss publicly, that make it impossible to continue right now.
“I feel blessed that I’ve had what I’ve already had,” Foster said. But right now, “I’m just going to do what the doctors tell me.
“What I’m really trying to do” by having a farewell gig “is just thank everybody for everything they gave me over the years,” he said.
The Mohegan All-Stars will continue, at least for the next year, but likely will have guest players come in to front the band, Foster said. The 11-piece band — sometimes larger — features, in addition to Foster up front, a bass player, drummer and guitarist, five horn players, a Hammond organ player and a grand piano player.
“The thing that’s nice is that I’m ending it at a place that gave me the last 20 years of my career,” Foster said, referring to Mohegan Sun. “My career would have been over 20 years ago if it wasn’t for that place,” he said.
“David Foster has long been part of Mohegan’s entertainment family and will be forever part of our history,” said Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment President of Sports & Entertainment Tom Cantone.
“He helped put Mohegan Sun’s Wolf Den on the map and was our first and only house band to play in the venue over a span of two decades,” Cantone said. “We will be forever grateful for the magic he and his band created on stage for all to enjoy and remember forever!”
Foster, owner of Shaboo Productions, also has produced countless concerts over several decades, many of them fundraisers to support local non-profit organizations.
Shows at Mohegan Sun’s Wolf Den are free — although you do have to walk through a casino to get there — but often there are long lines to get in. Anyone planning to go would be well-served to get there at least a couple of hours early and get in line to avoid disappointment and be sure of getting in.
Beginning when he was 19 and throughout his 20s, Foster put Connecticut — and especially eastern Connecticut — on the map as one of the owners of the Shaboo Inn, a legendary R&B and jazz-steeped, 1,000-capacity road house that operated from 1971-82.
The Shaboo became the recurring home for everyone from Chicago blues king Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, and James Cotton — the legendary, larger-than-life blues harmonica player who adopted Shaboo as a second home — to Bonnie Raitt and Roomful of Blues.
Cotton’s onetime guitar player, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, who played on classic recordings by Cotton, Howlin’ Wolf, Memphis Slim, Muddy Waters and Sonny Boy Williamson II — and much later was the guitar player for the Blues Brothers — even became a member of the Shaboo All-Stars for a number of years.
Foster has credited Dick Waterman, a similarly iconic blues writer, promoter and photographer who in 1972 managed Raitt, Roomful and Buddy and Junior, for developing Shaboo’s audience at the start by giving the club access to major blues artists who more often played in famous clubs in big cities, such as New York’s Bottom Line, Philadelphia’s The Main Point and Washington, D.C.’s Cellar Door.