Tour Dates in 2002
Wednesday, 30 January 2002: Internet interview with USATODAY
Johnny Winter is considered by many to
be one of the greatest blues-rock artists of all time. His musical career
began at the age of fourteen, when he and keyboard-playing brother Edgar
formed Johnny and the Jammers in their home town of Beaumont, Texas. Since
that time, Johnny crafted his own and reinterpreted others' blues standards
and rock classics including B.B. King's Rock Me Baby, Chuck Berry's Johnny
B. Goode and Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited. His latest release, The Best
of Johnny Winter, is now available on Sony/Legacy. Talk to Johnny Winter
about music past and present.
Ontario, California : Johnny, who are you
listening to these days? Thanks, Jimbo
Johnny Winter: I like to listen to old
records I grew up with, like Muddy
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania : Hi Johnny,
I am a longtime fan of yours and I am curious as to which drummer and bass
player you have enjoyed playing with throughout your career? I really liked
the years with Jon Paris, and Tom Compton. Thank You for your time, Leila
Johnny Winter: Tom Compton is probably
Brooklyn, NY : Dear Johnny, Your recent
live shows and recordings have all consisted entirely of blues. Don't get
me wrong - I love your blues music - but I also used to enjoy hearing you
play some good ol' rock and roll. Will you ever play rock music again? Thanks,
Johnny Winter: I probably will do a little
bit of it, but I like the blues the best.
Niagara Falls.Ont. Canada. : THANKS FOR
OVER 30 YEARS OF THE THE GREATEST LIVE SHOWS AND THE MOST INCREDIBLE BLUES.
I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN TOLD YOU PURCHASED YOUR 1958 FLYING V IN MONTREAL, CANADA.
I KNOW YOU DO NOT PLAY IT IN CONCERT ANYMORE HOWEVER IS THAT WHERE IT WAS
BOUGHT AND DO YOU STILL OWN IT? HAVE A GREAT 2002.
Johnny Winter: No, it was stolen from me,
but I don't remember where it happened. I'm not sure whether I bought it
in Montreal -- it was too long ago!
Minneapolis, MN : If you could change anything
about your career, what would it be? Or wouldn't you change anything?
Johnny Winter: I don't think I'd change
England : Have you or Edgar ever considered
writing a biography of your experiences and musical career?
Johnny Winter: We've talked about it a
lot, it just hasn't been the right time or the right person to do it with.
I hope I do someday.
Mesa, Arizona : Thanks for so many years
of cranking out the music. Your music still gets plenty of air time in this
house. How is your health, and what is an average day for you? Thanks....Lyle
Johnny Winter: Average day? I watch a lot
of television, practice a couple of times a week, and that's about it. And
I'm feeling fine, thank you.
Carnoustie, Scotland : You have played
with a lot of different musicians in various incarnations of your band.
Do you ever see any of the old guys - particularly Rick Derringer - would
you record or tour with Rick again? Little Foster
Johnny Winter: No, I wouldn't. I prefer
playing with one guitar instead of two. And no, I don't keep in touch with
Stevensville, MD : There is something of
a resurgence of slide players these days. Have you heard any that especially
impress you as contributing something new and unique? What do you listen
to most often when you kick back and relax?
Johnny Winter: No, I don't listen to a
lot of new music, so I'm kind of behind the times on that.
Shelbyville, Indiana : Are you planning
on touring again anytime sone?
Johnny Winter: Yes, I am. I'm going to
do my record first, though. I'll be going into the studio in the next month.
digby nova scotia : Any chance of you recording
a lightnin' hopkins song on the new album?
Johnny Winter: I don't think so, no.
St. Paul Minnesota : Do you ever play the
tune "broke down engine" anymore?
Johnny Winter: No, I don't. It's an acoustic
song, and I don't play acoustic songs in person.
Moncton, nb : Hi, Johnny. I was wondering
if there are going to be any acoustic stuff on your upcoming pointblank
release? I would love to hear some new stuff on your old nationals. Ever
think about doing a newer version of your old song "Low down gal of mine"?
Johnny Winter: I probably will do an acoustic
song or two on my new record, but I don't think I'll be redoing "Low Down
Gal of Mine".
Sacramento, CA : How was it to work with
Gregg Allman? Were you and Duane close?
Johnny Winter: I loved working with Gregg,
and Duane too.
Houston,TX : Why is Beaumont, TX always
named as your hometown? What happened to Leland, Mississippi? Do you remember
Joe Frank Carolla?(Nominated for a Grammy years ago for "Don't Pull Your
Love" while part of Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds) I also believe Joe
Frank drove you to school in Leland on a yellow school bus. I would venture
to guess that The Delta has a larger heritage of the blues than Beaumont.
Don't get me wrong, I like Beaumont, but Leland better. Let me know your
thoughts! Thanks! Price Williams
Johnny Winter: I wasn't born in Leland,
I was born in Beaumont, but my father was in the army at the time and my
mother didn't want me to be born in Leland where there were no hopitals.
And no, Joe Frank Carolla didn't drive me to school -- but I do know who
Stevensville, MD : Not many people know
that you headlined the historic Allman
Brothers shows at the Fillmore East in '71. Was that the first time
you had heard Duane's playing and was it tough following up such a killer
set? (As I recall, your set was also great, by the way).
Johnny Winter: We did do the show, and
I just played my normal set and didn't worry about what Duane was doing.
Delsbo, Sweden : Any plans on recording
another "rock album" like Raisin Cain and the JW And-projects? I'm a blues
fan and you're one of the greatest of that genre, but I also love your interpretations
of Dylan, Womack etc. That mixture of slide guitar, blues licks and heavy,
melodic rock is much too rare in today's music and noone did it better than
Johnny Winter: Not really any plans for
doing that now.
halifax nova scotia : You did The Oakie
Dokie Stomp in concert in the early 90's have you ever recorded that song
but in the studio but never released it? keep rockin bob
Johnny Winter: No, I've never recorded
it, and I have no plans to at the moment.
Carnoustie, Scotland : Johnny, I have been
a fan since '71 and would just love to be able to say I had seen you play
live just once before I die! You don't make it very easy though do you?
Any chance of a proper British tour ... and I don't mean a Blues Festival
... I mean a TOUR? In the past you have headed off to mainland Europe nad
ignored the UK - particularly Scotland! Little Foster
Johnny Winter: No plans for that right
Pittston Maine : I've seen you several times
up here in Maine hope come again. My question is what guitar are you playing
in concert now.
Johnny Winter: It's called the Laser, and
I got it in Austin Texas. But I still play my Firebird guitar for slide.
Blues Revue Magazine Apr/May 2002
The April/May 2002 issue of Blues Revue kicks off
with a cover feature on the three feisty blueswomen of Saffire, still Uppity
after all these years. They also got an update on the career of blues-rocker Johnny Winter and a feature on legendary harpist James
Cotton. And it's our annual festival issue, featuring our comprehensive
list of blues events worldwide. Plus, there's all the news, columns, and album
reviews you've come to expect from the world's greatest blues magazine. It's
20th Century Guitar - April 2002
Texas Monthly - April 2002
Wednesday, 19 June 2002: B.B. King Blues Club, Manhattan
Winter comes on stage at 8:59 P.M. Johnny has a cane and is helped on stage
by two assistants. Johnny is frail and shaking. Father time has not been kind
to Johnny. Gone is the brash, outrageous, growling Johnny I saw at his Fillmore
East debut on February 14, 1969, with Sam & Dave. Gone is the slinky, dastardly,
daring Johnny of the "Guitar Slinger" tour of 1984. Johnny Winter is very
courageous in the face of obviously, extremely failing health. The
first two songs are both instrumental boogie blues. Johnny's playing is difficult
and slow. But fearless Johnny will not be deterred. Song three is much stronger
with lead vocals and lead guitar playing improving markedly. Now I see Johnny
Winter's old guitar licks coming through again: come on Johnny, come on !!!!!!!
Song four is titled, "What Ya' Gonna
This is a strong rock & roll tune with phrasing tempo stops for dynamic
effect. Johnny's current band is pictured below. From left to right they
are: Johnny Winter (guitar & vocals), James Montgomery (harmonica & vocals),
Wayne June (drums & vocals) and Scott Spray on bass.
The next tune is called, "Good Time Charlie." Johnny is having obvious
tremors. I am distraught with concern for Johnny's health. The harmonica
player, James Montgomery, takes a tasteful lead vocal on this tune. It is
so unusual to see anyone else but Johnny sing lead vocals. The next number
is a slow blues called, "How Lucky Can One Man Be." Gone are the super flashy
extended lead runs that never seemed to end, with the growls added for effect.
His leads are slow and deliberate, tasteful and well phrased, but it's just
not the same Johnny. I should be very glad, he's even here to play for us
at all, and for that I am extremely thankful!!! The double time tempo from
the drummer drives Johnny to some inspirational blues playing for the latter
part of this tune. Johnny finally gets rolling and seems to get hot. Song
seven features the drummer, Wayne June, on lead vocals. He has an unusual
style that is very animated. Johnny exhibits some of his best lead playing
here. Now were seeing some of the old Johnny.
Another review of Johnny Winter BB King's
Another review from the ww
w.bboogie.com Johnny Winter comes on stage at 8:59 P.M. Johnny has a cane
and is helped on stage by two assistants. Johnny is frail and shaking. Father
time has not been kind to Johnny. Gone is the brash, outrageous, growling Johnny
I saw at his Fillmore East debut on February 14, 1969, with Sam & Dave. Gone
is the slinky, dastardly, daring Johnny of the "Guitar Slinger" tour of 1984.
Johnny Winter is very courageous in the face of obviously, extremely failing
The first two songs are both instrumental boogie
blues. Johnny's playing is difficult and slow. But fearless Johnny will not
be deterred. Song three is much stronger with lead vocals and lead guitar playing
improving markedly. Now I see Johnny Winter's old guitar licks coming through
again: come on Johnny, come on !!!!!!! Song four is titled, "What Ya' Gonna
Do." This is a strong rock & roll tune with phrasing tempo stops for dynamic
effect. Johnny's current band is pictured below. From left to right they are:
Johnny Winter (guitar & vocals), James Montgomery (harmonica & vocals), Wayne
June (drums & vocals) and Scott Spray on bass.
The next tune is called, "Good Time Charlie." Johnny
is having obvious tremors. I am distraught with concern for Johnny's health.
The harmonica player, James Montgomery, takes a tasteful lead vocal on this
tune. It is so unusual to see anyone else but Johnny sing lead vocals. The next
number is a slow blues called, "How Lucky Can One Man Be." Gone are the super
flashy extended lead runs that never seemed to end, with the growls added for
effect. His leads are slow and deliberate, tasteful and well phrased, but it's
just not the same Johnny. I should be very glad, he's even here to play for
us at all, and for that I am extremely thankful!!! The double time tempo from
the drummer drives Johnny to some inspirational blues playing for the latter
part of this tune. Johnny finally gets rolling and seems to get hot. Song seven
features the drummer, Wayne June, on lead vocals. He has an unusual style that
is very animated. Johnny exhibits some of his best lead playing here. Now were
seeing some of the old Johnny.
One more review of Jphnny Winter at BB King's
Went to BB Kings last night (19 Jun 2002). Great show!!!
The show was schedoled to start at 8:00. Warmup band came
on at 7:30, played for 1 hour. Not bad, but not my cup of tea. The one guy was
playing lots of different instruments including sitar(which was interesting),
flute and some percussion instruments.
Johnny came on at 9:10 with some help and a cane. Throughout
the show I could notice him shaking quite a bit. He was wearing a black hat
and big beard. They went right into Hideaway, followed with Baby Don't Mean
Maybe(?). Third song was Boogie Real Low. This song was where his fingers started
to loosen up a bit. He did some repeating riffs and arpeggios. The next song
sounded good, but I wasn't familiar with it.
The 5th song was Good Time Charlie(?) sung byJames Montgomery
on Harp. This song showed what a good singer he was. Has a sort of raspy voice.
Then they did Black Jack. Hot!!! JW's voice was sounding better as he went on.
The 7th song was Tore Down! This was sung by the drummer, Wayne June. Not bad,
but not Johnny. Next was another unfamiliar song. Then SenSaShun/Mojo Working
and Mona, both sung by Montgomery. This was followed by Johnny Guitar, which
was killer. A couple of times during the song , JW would play a Boney Moroney
riff(much to the delight of the bikers behind me who had been calling for it
His encore was Drop the bomb, done very well.
Throughout the show Johnny looked sort of stiff, sitting
in a chair bent over his lazer. Didn't play any slide, but I can deal with that.
I didn't hear any complaints, just lots of supportive fans who, like me, were
thrilled to be there.
As the show progressed, he seemed to be pushing himself
playing guitar. His leads became more and more intense. There were several times
where he was really boogying. Overall, it was a great show.
Sunday, 14 July 2002 - Little Bob + Poppa Chubby + Johnny Winter Parc des Noues de
Little Bob fait partie des mythes vivants de l'histoire
du rock français 1 jour 18 Euros/2 Jours 25 Euros. The Home-Of-Rock
web page has some very nice Photos of this concert.
Tuesday, 16 July 2002 - Festival des Guitares - Patrimonio
Thursday, 18 July 2002 - Johnny Winter + Wishbone Ash Cooperative de Mai - Clermont
Friday, 19 July 2002 - Johnny Winter Festival Voix du Gaou - Six Fours
La Coopérative de Mai, Clermont-Ferrand 18 juillet
Alors que le public se masse devant la Coopérative
de Mai pour voir évoluer sur scène Wishbone Ash et Johnny Winter,
les Dead Plants jouent débranchés sur le parvis, à la bonne
franquette. Ils sont, comme toujours, en excellente forme et font passer un
bon moment de rockabilly/folk aux personnes non obnubilées par larrivée
imminente de Wishbone Ash à lintérieur de la salle.
Le concert de ce soir est complet, laffiche a attiré un public
de bikers pas vraiment jeunes : on se croirait au très peu regretté
festival Free Wheels de Cunlhat ! Cest un véritable défilé
de blousons et pantalons en cuir, de santiags, de foulards sudistes, de vestes
à franges etc. De nombreuses motos sont garées bien en évidence
mais deux personnes ont quand même osé venir en vélo
Dés les premières notes, Wishbone Ash confirme
tout le mal quon pense de sa musique : du rock F.M. progressif (sic) dun
goût plus que douteux
Une heure quinze durant, les deux guitaristes
rivalisent de lourdeur et jouent à lunisson des soli excessivement
soporifiques dans la plus pure tradition de ce style musical fort heureusement
en voie dextinction. Et ce nest pas tout ! Ils nous interprètent
des chansons dune voix qui rappelle les pires moments (et ils sont nombreux)
de Toto. Les slows mielleux et ringards succèdent aux morceaux blues-rock
sans aucune trace dinspiration. Le public ne cesse dapplaudir et
de les encourager à jouer encore et encore
Après une longue attente, Johnny Winter et ses trois
musiciens (basse, batterie, harmonica/chant) font leur apparition. Mister Winter
est vraiment très diminué, il arrive plié en deux avec
une canne et joue tout le concert assis. Le premier morceau, Hideaway, confirme
limpression visuelle : sa maladie lempêche dêtre
aussi véloce quavant et le fait buter sur certaines notes. Un des
titres interprétés ce soir sintitule Sick and tired, il
résume bien la situation !
Mais lessentiel est là : ce monsieur a envie
de jouer et de finir sa vie sur scène comme les plus grands bluesmen.
Voir une telle légende du blues-rock ravit tout le monde même si
ses prestations à Woodstock et dans les années 70 étaient
un peu plus enflammées ! A la fin du premier morceau, Johnny pousse un
« yeah » laconique...
La tonalité du concert est plutôt blues, les morceaux rapides posant
visiblement problème : pas de Jumpin jack flash, Whole lotta shakin
goin on ou Johnny be good
Mais quel bonheur dentendre Got
my mojo working, She likes to boogie real low et surtout le génial Johnny
guitar malgré un chant hésitant de Johnny Winter.
Le groupe est là pour soutenir son leader et cacher les absences de la
voix ou de la guitare. Lharmoniciste pousse donc souvent la chansonnette,
et fait admirer son jeu dharmonica qui mériterait un peu plus de
sobriété ! Enfin, cest pour la bonne cause
plus tard, dans le bus de tournée, il répondra souvent aux questions
à la place du guitariste albinos né à Beaumont, Texas.
Le concert se termine, Johnny Winter quitte difficilement la scène :
on compatit à sa douleur et on espère que cest vraiment
son choix de jouer lors des festivals européens alors quil se trouve
dans un état pareil ! Il revient même pour un rappel où
on ne peut sempêcher de se demander si tout cela est bien raisonnable.
Le bluesman ayant joué avec Jimi
Hendrix et Muddy
Waters semble vouloir laisser une dernière trace (avant rétablissement
?) et enregistre en ce moment de nouveaux morceaux pour une sortie début
2003. Go, Johnny Go !!
La soirée se termine sur une note plus gaie avec
les Dead Pants. Cette fois, ils jouent sur une scène et ont branché
leurs instruments : rock n roll ! La contrebasse est toujours très
présente, lharmonica joue divinement, la batterie est minimaliste
laissant la guitare et le chant sexprimer. Leffet sur le public,
quant à lui, na pas changé : on se sent habité par
une frénésie incontrôlable !
Signature : Pierre Andrieu
Computer translation into English of above text:
Whereas the public masses in front of the Co-operative
of May to see evolving/moving on scene Wishbone Ash and Johnny Winter , Dead
Plants play disconnected on the square, with good the franquette. They are,
like always, in excellent form and make spend a good moment of rockabilly/folk
to the people not obnubilated by the imminent arrival of Wishbone Ash inside
The concert of this evening is complete, the poster attracted a public of bikers
not really young people: one would believe oneself in very little regretted
festival Free Wheels de Cunlhat! It is a true procession of wind-breakers and
leather trousers, santiags, scarves Southerners, jackets with fringes etc. Many
motor bikes are parked well in obviousness but two people nevertheless dared
to come en.vélo...
Dice the first notes, Wishbone Ash confirms all the evil
which one thinks of his music: progressive rock'n'roll F.M. (sic) of a taste
more than doubtful... One hour fifteen during, the two guitarists compete of
heaviness and play in unison with the excessively soporific soli in the purest
tradition of this musical style extremely fortunately in process of extinction.
And it is not all! They interpret us songs of a voice which recalls the worst
moments (and they are numerous) of Louse . The mielleux slow fox trots and ringards
succeed the pieces blues-rock'n'roll without any trace of inspiration. The public
does not cease applauding and encouraging them to still play still and...
After long waiting, Johnny Winter and its three musicians
(low, battery, harmonica/chant) make their appearance. Mister Winter really
is very decreased, it arrives folded into two with a cane and plays all the
sitted concert. The first piece, Hideaway , confirm the visual impression: its
disease prevents it from being as swift as before and the fact of butting against
certain notes. One of the interpreted titles this evening is entitled Sick and
tired , it summarizes the situation well!
But essence is there: this Mister wants to play and finish
his life on scene like largest bluesmen. See such a legend of the blues-rock'n'roll
ravit everyone even if its services with Woodstock and in the Seventies were
ignited a little! At the end of the first piece, Johnny pushes a laconic "yeah
The tonality in the concert is rather blues, the fast pieces posing problem
obviously: no Jumpin' jack flash , Whole lotta shakin' goin' one or Johnny Be
good ... But which happiness to hear Got my mojo working , She likes to boogy
real low and especially brilliant Johnny guitar in spite of a song hesitating
of Johnny Winter .
The group is there to support its leader and to hide the
absences of the voice or the guitar. The harmonicist thus pushes often the ditty,
and makes admire his play of harmonica which would deserve a little more sobriety!
Lastly, it is for the good cause... A little later, in the bus of round, it
will often answer the questions in the place of the albino guitarist born in
The concert finishes, Johnny Winter leaves the scene with difficulty: one sympathizes
with his pain and one hopes that it is really its choice to play at the time
of the European festivals whereas it is in a similar state! It returns even
for a recall where one cannot prevent oneself from wondering whether all that
is quite reasonable.
The bluesman having played with Jimi
Hendrix and Muddy
Waters seems to want to leave a last trace (before re-establishment?) and
records in this moment of new pieces for an exit at the beginning of 2003. Go,
The evening finishes on a merrier note with Dead Pants
. This time, they play on a scene and connected their instruments: rock'n'roll
' roll! The double bass is always very present, the harmonica plays divinement,
the battery is minimalist leaving the guitar and the song to be expressed. The
effect on the public, as for him, did not change: one feels inhabited by an
Saturday, 20 July 2002 - Festive de Font Robert
Monday, 22 July 2002 - Theatre de la Mer - Sete
Ce soir le théâtre de la mer est plein à craquer, Johnny
Winter joue. Mais d'abord il y a l'obstacle Wishbone Ash... Wishbone Ash c'est
du "rock progressif ancien", un clash dans l'espace temps. Du coup la musique
est inspide, vide, sans aucun intér^et. Pourtant les gens en redemande. Merde.
On fait passer le temps comme on peut et puis vient le moment. Les roadies se
chargent de préparer la scène. Une chaise rouge pour Johnny Winter, avec deux
amplis fender (à gauche), une belle batterie pearl (derrière), et deux gros
SW pour le bassiste (à droite), enfin, un petit fender(?) pour l'harmoniciste
(au milieu). La foule cri son nom et Johnny Winter arrive sur scène...porté
par 3 roadies. Tout le monde reste bouche bée, interloqué, éberlué. Qu'est ce
qu'est devenu notre bluesman ? Est-ce Jean-Paul II qui arrive ici sur scène
ou Johnny Winter complètement décati ? Sa jambe droite ne cesse de trembler
(parkinson ?), il est courbé, plié en deux. Il porte la barbe et son habituel
gros chapeau qui voile la moitié de son regard (que l'on devine cependant hagard).
Le voilà qui se lance dans la première chanson (impossible de me souvenir de
la playlist mais en gros c'est très proche de NYC97 : sen-sha-sun / mojo / johnny
guitar / une allusion a Fast life rider / black cat / she's like the boogie
etc...). Le son est bon, mais le physique de notre ami ne lui permet plus ni
de tenir le rythme ni de ne pas se louper sur certains plans (Il chante une
chanson sur deux, l'harmoniciste ou le batteur reprennant le chant pour le laisser
respirer). Mais ce n'est pas grave finalement car c'est bien un authentique
héros qui est là, à s'arracher pour jouer sa musique. Je voulais du blues, j'en
ai eu Johnny Winter pouvait mourir sur scène ce soir que cela ne m'aurait pas
surpris. Un seul regret le numéro de cirque avec le passage obligé par un morceau
Computer translation: This evening the theatre of the sea
is full to crack, Johnny Winter plays. But initially there is the obstacle Wishbone
Ash... Wishbone Ash it is "old progressive rock'n'roll", a clash in space time.
Blow the music is inspide, empty, without any intér^et. However people in redemande.
Shit. One makes spend time as one can and then comes the moment. The roadies
are given the responsability to prepare the scene. A red chair for Johnny Winter,
with two amplifiers fender (on the left), a beautiful battery pearl (behind),
and two large SW for the bass player (on the right), finally, small a fender(?)
for the harmonicist (in the medium). Crowd cry her name and Johnny Winter arrives
on scene... carried by 3 roadies. Everyone remains bée mouth, disconcerted,
flabbergasted. What became our bluesman? Is this Jean-Paul II who arrives here
on scene or Johnny Winter completely steamed? Its right leg does not cease trembling
(Parkinson?), it is curved, folded into two. It wears the beard and its usual
large hat which veils half of its glance (that one guesses however hagard).
Here are which launches out in the first song (impossible to remember me the
playlist but approximately it is very close to NYC97: SEN-sha-sun/mojo/johnny
guitar/an allusion has Fast life to wrinkle/black cat/she' S like the boogy
etc...). The sound is good, but the physique of our friend enables him any more
neither to hold the rate/rhythm nor of not louper on certain plans (It sings
a song on two, the harmonicist or the beater reprennant the song to let it breathe).
But it is not serious finally because it is well an authentic hero who is there,
to tear off itself to play its music. I wanted blues, I had Johnny Winter of
it could die on scene this evening that that would not have me surprised. Only
one regret the number of circus with the passage obliged by a piece of slide.
Blues Feelings Sep 2002 (France)
Wednesday, 18 September 2002 - Harpers Ferry, Allston MA
Friday, 20 September 2002 - Club Liquid, Leominster, MA
Saturday, 21 September 2002 - Pearl Street, North Hampton, MA
Friday, 4 October 2002- The Stadium Theater, Woonsocket
Saturday, 5 October 2002 - The Julian Studley Theater, SUNY/New Paltz
Review and Photos by Tony Bonyata
When Texas blues guitar slinger Johnny Winter tottered out onto the stage last Wednesday evening with cane in hand, only to be assisted to a seat in the front of the stage (where he remained for the duration of his thirteen song set) it may have, at first, appeared as though his days of laying down his own brand of white hot blues might soon be numbered. But with his still-nimble fingers, soulful heart and a taut, sinewy backing band, this 58-year old blues-rocker still showed, like so many other elderly blues greats before him, that he's still got his mojo working overtime.
Winter first began his career in the late '60s working with The Progressive Blues Experiment before branching out on his own with his debut Texas-spiced blues album Johnny Winter. The singer/ guitarist gained more commercial success throughout the '70s when he released albums with more of a rock 'n' roll kick to them, such as Still Alive and Well, Saints and Sinners and the two stunning live collections Johnny Winter And, and Captured Live. Then in 1977 Winter produced and performed on Muddy Waters' Grammy Award winning comeback album Hard Again, as well as using the talents of Waters on his own back-to-basics album Nothin' But The Blues. And while his rock 'n' roll sensibilities have never really left him, it was the soulful mourn of the blues that Johnny has predominately stuck to ever since.
So it was no surprise when the seated Winter, with long white pony-tail, grizzled white beard and a sleeveless black t-shirt exposing his rail-thin arms decorated in faded tattoos, tore through a rousing set of scorching blues numbers guaranteed to raise the roof off any juke joint. Although Winter's voice lacked the raw, guttural punch of his youth, his guitar-work, which still showcased a few blinding solos, more than made up for it. Despite having surgery on his hip last year (resulting from a bad fall) which he's still, apparently, slowly recovering from, as well as taking medication to combat his anxiety attacks, Winter, nonetheless, did what he does best, and that's play some damn fine guitar.
But even more than the frontman's own musical prowess, it was his choice of well-seasoned bandmembers - James Montgomery (harp/ vocals), Scott Spray (bass) and Wayne June (drums) - that really stoked the flames of this fiery performance. From Montgomery's smoking-gun harp solos, animated stage antics and ballsy vocals on a few numbers, including a rousing cover of Bo Diddley's "Mona," to the tighter-than-a-gnat's-ass-stretched-over-a-pickle-barrel rhythm section of Spray and June, Winter could've been in a coma and the house still would've come down around them.
Despite the fact that his guitar sounded strangely out of step on a cover of Waters' "Got My Mojo Working," Winter thankfully, however, wasn't in a deep sleep as he proved on the slower tempo blues of "Black Cat," the rollicking "Lone Wolf" (a new song from his forthcoming studio album due in the spring of 2003), as well as a cover of Freddie King's "Sen-sa-shun," where his devilish leads snaked throughout. The highlight of the evening was saved for last, when the guitarist traded in his Laser guitar for his prized Gibson Firebird on a harrowing version of J.B. Lenoir's "Mojo Boogie,"where he dished out a menacing slide guitar that left the packed house famished for more.
Opening for Winter was the 78-year old Mississippi bluesman T-Model Ford. With nothing more than a drummer and his electric guitar, Ford, clad in a flannel shirt, beat-up baseball cap and warm smile, held sway with his audience with his own brand of rough hewed Delta blues and dusty, hypnotic rhythms performed on his guitar.
Guitar Player November 2002
Guitar Player November 2003, re-issue interview with Johnny Winter and Muddy Waters from August 1983. In memory of Muddy
Waters with Johnny Winter. Cover page pictures Johnny with a Gibson Les
Paul and Muddy holding his good ol' red Telecaster. A very nice issue of Guitar Player, the
interview of Johnny Winter and Muddy Waters was released in Guitar Player 2002.
Nov 2002: Johnny Winter still enthused at 58
By MICHAEL ZITZ
The Free Lance-Star THE
Blues rock legend Johnny Winter has been playing professionally
for over four decades now-- since he was 15 years old--but his enthusiasm
for the road is as keen as ever at age 58.
"I just love it," Winter said Sunday in a telephone
interview from a tour stop in Connecticut. "I love to play. Lucky I get
paid for it, because I'd probably do it for nothing if I had to."
Winters tours one month, takes one month off, then
goes back out again.
When he's home, he says he spends most of his time
"I like 'The Simpsons' a lot," he said. "I watch Nick
at Nite, Archie Bunker, "Leave it to Beaver,"--all the comedy shows."
In 1959, Johnny Winter began playing with his saxophone
and keyboard playing brother Edgar
Winter. But the Beaumont, Texas, native didn't become a national figure
until Rolling Stone featured him in 1968 and he signed with Columbia Records.
Johnny Winter's blazing slide guitar, combined with
the fact that he is an albino, made him highly recognizable in the '70s
and '80s. Winter, who plays the State Theatre in Falls Church Saturday night,
credits blues great B.B. King with helping him get started.
He said King let him sit in with his band after Winter
"bugged" him obnoxiously."
Winter said that in 1961, when he was 17, he and Edgar
came to a King show. An albino dressed in a trench coat, Winter must have
been a strange sight.
"He didn't want to let me play at all. At first he
thought I was from the IRS," Winter laughed. "He thought the IRS was coming
to get him because white folks didn't come to his shows then and because
we were wearing trench coats. He thought we were coming after him about
Winter said the big difference between his early days
and today is that in the beginning, there were very few white blues fans.
"It was hard just finding people who wanted to hear
the blues," he said.
He credited Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn with
engaging white audiences, but many say Winter himself played a major role.
He has mixed rock songs such as "Rock and Roll Hoochie
Koo" with blues fare like "Rollin' and Tumblin'" to remain relevant.
Winter, who produced and played on several Muddy
Waters albums, is credited with helping Waters receive the mainstream
attention he so richly deserved.
Winter himself was inducted into the Blues Foundation's
Hall of Fame in 1986.
Friday, 1 November 2002 - House of Blues, Chicago, IL
Saturday, 2 November 2002 - The Royal Oak Theater/Magic Bag, Royal Oak, MI
Photo Gallery from the Royal Oak Theatre
Friday, 22 November 2002 - Baltimore