Johnny Winter Timeline 1996
March 1996: Lawsuit over Jonah Hex-Riders of the Worm and Such
On May 1, 1996, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Board of Directors voted unanimously to support the First Amendment rights of Joe Lansdale, Timothy Truman and "Sam Glanzman, by assisting in their defense against a civil complaint brought by musicians Johnny Winter and Edgar Winter in connection with DC Comics' comic book series Jonah Hex - Riders of the Worm and Such.
According to court papers filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on March 6, 1996, the Winter suit alleges defamation, invasion of privacy and related claims on two characters, the Autumn brothers, created for the comic book series by Lansdale and Truman. Attorneys Gail Migdal Title and Jeffery Abrams of the Los Angeles office of Katten Muchin Zavis & Weitzman have taken on the defense of Lansdale, Truman and Glanzman. Title said, "This suit seeks to invade the right of artists and writes to free creative expression, a right that is protected by the First Amendment, parody and other laws. I am happy to assist the CBLDF in its fine work in the support of comic book professionals throughout the country."
Lansdale and Truman were hired by DC Comics in 1993 to write and create the artwork for the comic book series. According to artist and defendant Tim Truman, :From the creative standpoint, Jonah Hex: Riders of the Worm and Such, was intended from the beginning as a work of fiction and parody."
Joe Lansdale proclaims, "It was our intent to use the vehicle of Jonah Hex comic book series as a vehicle for satire and parody of musical genres, Texas music in particular, as well as old radio shows, movie serials and the like. We feel within our rights to parody music, stage personas, album personas, lyrics, and public figures."
The following is the complete list of the plaintiffs' claims:
1. Defamation of Private Figure
21 Sep 1996: Clifton Park NY
Concert review of Johnny Winter in Park West, Clifton Park NV (21 Sep 1996)
Hearing Johnny Winter in concert allowed me to better appreciate how an anthropologist feels when he or she uncovers the remnants of some heretofore un-cataloged hominid, as I finally feel like I've heard that beautiful, elusive missing musical link between Australopithecus Bluesei and Homo Erocktus.
Seeing Johnny Winter in concert last Saturday allowed me to better appreciate why it's so critically important that life-time musicians have some corporate-style pension or relief fund that allows them to get off the road when they're not healthy enough to travel. I may be presumptuous in making such a statement, but Winter (who has always given Keith Richards a run for his money in the ridden-hard-and-put-away-wet department) did not seem at all well Saturday night while moving slowly about the Park West's stage like a man severely enfeebled or heavily sedated.
Yes, Winter's rock-meets-the-blues guitar playing remained absolutely magnificent; if he was enfeebled or sedated then I shudder to think what he could do on a full tank of gas. His guitar-style is rife with wild string bending (I know he uses an unwound G-string, but his fret-board frolics made me wonder whether he'd found some rare string-set featuring an unwound D-and a lightly wound A-string to boot) and copious soloing outside of the Widdly Zone (that rote-soloist's default finger location--above the fifth fret on the top three strings--where everything sounds like its going "widdly widdly widdly"); you had to constantly watch Winter's guitar and his bassist's five-string job to tell who was holding down the bottom on any given number. And yes, Winter's singing also remains (ummmm. . . ) distinctive, shall we say? His thin, tenor throat instrument sounds something like Neil Young's, but without all of Neil's unpleasant straining, and it's perfectly suited to the hard-luck music Winter favors.
So that all should have made for a swell musical evening, right? Well . . . I wish I could say so, but Winter's physical shape nagged at me throughout his ninety-minute performance. I kept feeling, somehow, like I was participating in the exploitation of someone too weak to defend himself. And I hope I'm wrong about that: I hope that Johnny was feeling fine, and that he was just taking his time 'cause he was in no rush to get anywhere, and that he's touring these days solely because he wants to, not because he has to. I'll feel better about having patronized this show if I keep telling myself that was the case.
Chuck D'Aloia's CD Blues opened the evening with a robust set of standards, all featuring D'Aloia's unique guitar dressings. Ray Charles' "Georgia on My Mind", as an example, wore a festive set of jazz-progressive chords around its waist, while Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" was all wrapped up in a skritchyscratchy skiffled guitar coverlet. Damn fine stuff, all of it--and CD Blues should have provided a great head of steam for their headliner to ride, but Park West allowed its stage to cool for an hour and twenty minutes before Winter mounted it. Chalk that up as an opening weekend error that (hopefully) club management will rectify in the future.
Copyright 1995-1999: J. Eric Smith.
24 Oct 1996: Wilkes Barre, PA.
Concert review of Johnny Winter live in Wilkes Barre, PA (24 Oct 1996)
Last Thursday (24 October), I went to the River Jazz Cafe in Wilkes Barre, Penna. to hear Johnny Winter.
I had read several notes about his return to performing here. This is a personal reaction to his show: he appeared tired (too much travel, illness?) and his voice sounded strained at times. His guitar playing is still of high quality but his almost exclusive use of electronic "enhancements" and "sound alterations" became somewhat bothersome. I do not regret the cover charge I paid but will hesitate if he happens to perform near a place where I am.
I have a half-dozen vinyls by Winter, from the recent Alligator to older Columbia and Blue Sky albums (I am fond of his "Nothing But The Blues" lp) and his performance was below the standards that these albums had led me to associate with the name Johnny Winter.
I have been taken to task by members of this list for my criticism (how can a Frenchman say anything about blues artists??) of a certain British blues musician who, in my eyes, did not fulfill the contract his fellow performers did in May 1996 during the Mediterranean Blues cruise. I also read a recent string of notes along similar lines about the same artist. I am not too happy to post this item about Winter.
If you have had better experiences with recent Winter performances, I'd like to hear about them. Private e-mail would be better, of course.
Andre JM PREVOS
Now in his old age and rather frail condition he uses a room air conditioner on stage at outdoor shows in the summer, they tape a dryer duck from the unit to the mike stand.