This page covers Johnny Winter performances, concerts and tours during the year 2006 , quickly jump to the year: 2000 , 2001 , 2002 , 2003 , 2004 , 2005 , 2006 , 2007 , 2008 , 2009 , 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Highlights of Johnny Winter in 2006 include:
Johnny Winter inducted into the Fargo-Moorhead Convention Bureau's "Celebrity Walk of Fame" in Fargo, North Dakota. Hand and foot prints of celebrities from movies, music, politics and literature like Neil Diamond, The Moody Blues, Trisha Yearwood, Dr. Ruth, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and George W. Bush are displayed in cement outside the Visitors famous walk way.
Monday, 1 May 2006 - Bluesman Brings Crowd Its Feet
Bluesman Brings Crowd Its Feet
The crowd parted Saturday at Frankenmuth's Black Forest Brew Haus and Grill, making way for a legend to pass.
Johnny Winter was in the house, a whisper of a man, led to a chair on stage and handed his signature guitar. His manager said the growl was back, that Winter was playing some of the best music of his career -- and considering what came before, that was promising a lot.
Could this frail Texas bluesman deliver?
You had to hear it to believe it.
True, it was drummer Wayne June who did most of the growling Saturday. But when it came to the guitar, well, Winter had the standing-room-only audience held speechless.
His hands deftly coaxed out the blues, his guitar lacing the classic sound with electric rock. He turned his vocals loose on a cover of Ray Charles' "Blackjack" and paid tribute to others who inspired him with a style that explains why Muddy Waters once called him "my adopted son."
With Scott Spray on bass, Winter offered new works, "Let's Start Over Again" and "Lone Wolf," that proved he does more than sit on past successes these days.
Most of all, through "Hoochie Coochie Man," through "Hideaway," through "She Likes To Boogie Real Low," came the promise of a talent that sent him, at 15, searching out the black musicians in his Texas hometown, and the realization that he's still enthralled with the music, keeping it alive.
His brother Edgar might hold more of a mainstream presence, but Winter stands tall, giving back the musical lifeblood that obviously still races through his veins.
Winter drew an interesting mix of musicians, bikers and people looking for an excuse to party. And Black Forest is a promising venue, with dinner offered downstairs for those who want to make an evening of the show and wait staff keeping the drinks flowing upstairs.
The room is massive, the acoustics amazingly solid. If there is one drawback, it is the number of visual obstructions, support poles and a huge, boxed-in brewery.
While there is not much the club could or should do to eliminate those, since it does function as a restaurant and banquet hall most days, how about hanging the speakers, for example, so the towers don't block still another sight line?
It looked, too, as if a stage in the center, with artists performing in the round, might offer a wider expanse of prime seating than the current corner stage.
In any case, when Bobby "Blue" Bland comes Saturday, June 10, you'll want to arrive early, as soon as the doors open, to secure a good spot. Tickets are general admission, and Bland is sure to draw a standing-room-only crowd as well.
Saturday night opened with Frank Bang's Secret Stash, who brought a blend of hard rock and blues to the stage. The trio would roll through a long, lazy phrase before hitting back with jackhammer intensity, a style that had the rockers in the crowd keeping pace with fists punching the air.
But when it came to drawing fans to their feet, dancing, shouting their approval, the night belonged to a giant among musicians: Johnny Winter.
Friday, 5 May 2006 - Tampa Bay Blues festival
I am a big fan of Johnny and always tried to go to one of his concert, by
Friday, 12 May 2006 - Johnny Winter at the Neighborhood Theater in Charlotte, NC
I heard Johnny last night for the first time in more than 10 years, and I'm glad I did. I was a little worried about going because I was concerned he might not be good and it would diminish my memory of him -- I've read that he was really dragging in his 2004 shows, and apparently he had some health problems then. In January I heard him interviewed on XM Radio and he talked about how he had given up drinking and had stablilized his health. It's apparently true. He's lost a few steps musically since I first saw him in 1974, but he's still well worth hearing. His playing was quite good. He did a slowed-down version of Black Jack, which was a song that I've heard he has trouble with sometimes, but it was great. He messed up the lyrics on the first verse of Highway 61 Revisited, and some of the slide work on that song was simplified from the way he used to play it, but it was still thrilling. Overall, mistakes of any kind were very few and his playing skill was at a high level. His voice was noticeably stronger than it was on the Live in NYC album and on I'm a Bluesman.
The show lasted precisely 90 minutes. He walked onstage unassisted but someone had to show him to his chair -- his vision is clearly poor. He played sitting down the entire time, which I've heard he's done for the last several years, and he played mostly the Lazer, but switched to the Firebird for a few songs at the end. Setlist included Hideaway, Sugar-Coated Love, Black Jack, Tore Down, Johnny Guitar, Lone Wolf, Hoochie Koochie Man, She Likes to Boogie Real Low, Mojo Boogie, Highway 61 Revisited, and some others I don't recall now -- I was taking photos instead of making notes on the setlist.
The opening act was Cyril Lance, who was unknown to me but also excellent.
Johnny is touring extensively this year, and if he comes to your area, I strongly recommend going to hear him. Last night's show was memorable.
Concert review and photos, thanks to: David Roberson
Saturday, 13 May 2006 - Johnny Winter Rockin Bluesman, Still Going Strong
Interview By Kenny Buffaloe
Johnny Winter is a musical icon. His unique guitar playing style is a complete, harmonious blend of blues and rock ‘n’ roll. An achievement that few have accomplished. This fact has led to many hit records over the years and a solid, strong fan base. Kenny Buffaloe, popular martial arts personality, had the rare opportunity of interviewing Johnny Winter on his illustrious career, his early musical influences, the current state of blues/rock music today and his new tour and album “I’m A Bluesman”. Johnny recently performed in North Carolina as part of the “Eastern Music Festival” in 2 sold our performances. Before the show, there was Johnny and his guitar. During the show, Johnny Winter became his guitar. The audience was amazed and mesmerized by his outstanding performances. Johnny Winter is the last of a dying breed of great blues musicians still with us. The late great Muddy Waters said it best when he stated “Johnny Winter is the only white man I have ever met that really understands the blues”.
For over 30 years, Johnny Winter has been a guitar hero without equal. Signing to Columbia records in 1969, Johnny immediately laid out the blueprint for his fresh take on classic blues — a prime combination for the legions of fans just discovering the blues via the likes of Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton. Constantly shifting between simple country blues in the vein of Robert Johnson, to all-out electric slide guitar blues-rock, - Johnny has always been one of the most respected singers and guitar players in rock and the clear link between British blues-rock and American Southern rock ( a la the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd.) Throughout the '70s and '80s, Johnny was the unofficial torch-bearer for the blues, championing and aiding the careers of his idols like Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker.
His recent Grammy nominated “I'm A Bluesman” disc Virgin/EMI, has only added to his Texas-sized reputation.
For this release, Johnny has again paired with his long-time producer Dick Shurman (Robert Cray, Wayne June Albert Collins, and Roy Buchanan), as well as Tom Hambridge (Susan Tedeschi, George Thorogood). Backing him on this CD is his road-tested touring band of guitarist Paul Nelson, bassist Scott Spray and drummer Wayne June with guest appearances by such friends as keyboardist Reese Wynans (from Stevie Ray Vaughan's celebrated backing group Double Trouble) among others.
“I'm A Bluesman” was a question of finding the time and right material, he says. The 13-track collection includes three tunes by his friend and 2nd guitarist Paul Nelson, who writes with Winter's bassist Scott Spray. They collaborated on the prison-themed "Shakedown", a relationship-gone-bad song titled "Pack Your Bags" and the album's title track, which Nelson describes as a Johnny Winter biography set to music. "I wanted to write a song about his life, who he is, and what he represents to other musicians. I'm really proud that when he heard the song he said I'd gotten it right."
Winter also opted to record two new songs by producer, Hambridge, "Cheatin' Blues" and the first album single, Lone Wolf." Johnny and his players cut the tracks for “I'm A Bluesman” at several studios in New England, where Winter makes his home these days. But Winter remains a native Texan, born and bred in Beaumont, the town where the famous Spindletop gusher came in to kick off the "black gold" rush in 1901.
Growing up in rough-and-tumble town populated by oilfield wildcatters and shipyard workers, he spent long hours listening to a local deejay named J.P. Richardson - The Big Bopper of "Chantilly Lace" fame - and became hooked on 50's rock & roll. He formed his first band, Johnny and the Jammers, in 1959 at the age of 15, with his 12-year-old brother Edgar on keyboards.
Racial tensions in Beaumont were still high in those days. The town had been side to one of the worst race riots in Texas history just nine months before Johnny's birth. Mobs wandered the streets, businesses burned, martial law went into effect, and more than 2,000 uniformed National Guardsmen and Texas Rangers sealed off the town from the rest of the world until tempers cooled. Despite the brutal legacy, Johnny remembers never hesitating as a kid to venture into black neighborhoods to hear and play music.
Looking back, he believes people in the black community knew that he was sincere, that he was genuinely possessed by the blues. "Nothing ever happened tome. I went to black clubs all the time, and nobody ever bothered me. I always felt welcome." He also became friends with Clarence Garlow, a deejay at the black radio station KJET in Beaumont. Who opened Winter's eye's and ears to rural blues and Cajun music. Clarence, who recorded for the swamp boogie specialty label Goldband, KRCO, Frolic, Diamond, Moon-Lite, Hall-Way and other regional labels.
There's a famous story about a time in 1962 when Johnny and his brother went to see B.B. King at a Beaumont club called the Raven. The only whites in the crowd, they no doubt stood out. But Johnny already had his chops down and wanted to play with the revered B.B."I was about 17," Johnny remembers, "and B.B. didn't want to let me on stage at first. He asked me for a union card, and I had one. Also I kept sending people over to ask him to let me play. Finally, he decided that there enough people who wanted to hear me that, no matter if I was good or not, it would be worth it to let me on stage. He gave me his guitar and let me play. I got standing ovation, and he took his guitar back!"
Winter's big breakthrough came a few years later in 1968 when Rolling Stone writers Larry Sepulvado and John Burks featured him in a piece on the Texas Music scene, which prompted a bidding war among labels that Columbia eventually won.
Johnny's self-titled 1969 disc announced loudly that there was a new guitar-slinger on the new national scene. The disc included audacious covers such blues classics as B.B. King's "Be Careful with a Fool," Sonny Boy Williamson II's "Good Morning Little School Girl," Robert Johnson's "When You Got a Good Friend" and fellow Texan Lightin' Hopkins' "Back Door Friend." It also featured two prime original Winter songs, "Dallas"and the controversial "I'm Yours and I'm Hers," that went into heavy rotation on FM underground radio.
The album peaked at No.24 on the billboard chart and was promptly followed by Second Winter later that same year. Looking back, writer Cub Koda described the period as one when "straight out of Texas with a hot trio, Winter made blues-rock music for the angels." That trio, by the way, included bassist Tommy Shannon who would go on to be part of SRV's Double Trouble and drummer Uncle John Turner.
Winter stayed with Columbia and it's boutique Blue Sky label for more than a decade, turning out such well-received platters as “Johnny Winter And” (1970), “Still Alive and Well” (1973) and “John Dawson Winter III” (1974). He also helped to introduce blues giant Muddy Waters to another generation of listeners by producing and playing guitar on the Grammy-winning “Hard Again” (1977), as well as the Grammy-nominated “I'm Ready” (1978), Muddy "Mississippi Waters Live” (1979) and “King Bee” (1981). The collaborations were so successful that Waters took to referring to Johnny as his "adopted son"!
Johnny Winter rarely does interviews. Kenny Buffaloe was privileged with the opportunity to interview this blues legend. Buffaloe first heard about Johnny Winter and his younger brother Edgar Winter from a childhood friend named David Robinson. David introduced Kenny Buffaloe to the progressive rock music of the 1970’s and this influence has lasted to this day. David Robinson passed away over 20 years ago with brain cancer. Buffaloe would like to dedicate this interview to his memory.
The following is Kenny Buffaloe’s exclusive interview with Johnny Winter.
Kenny Buffaloe: You have a very unique blues/rock musical style. Who were some of
your early musical influences and how did they affect your playing
Johnny Winter: I listened to everyone I possibly could. I bought every record I could
find and put it into my own style.
Buffaloe: What was it that inspired you to start playing music from the beginning?
Winter: I always loved music. My parents were musical. My daddy played sax and banjo and he taught me my first chords on the ukulele. I played ukulele before I played the guitar.
Buffaloe: Tell me about your performances at the legendary WOODSTOCK FESTIVAL in 1969 and that era.
Winter: I don’t remember a whole lot about it. The weather was real nasty I remember as the main thing.
Buffaloe: Jimi Hendrix had a legendary performance at WOODSTOCK. Did you ever play with him at any point?
Winter: Yeah, I did. My manager Steve Paul had a club there called “THE SCENE” and I played with Hendrix there at THE SCENE.
Buffaloe: What could you tell me about Jimi Hendrix as an artist and a man?
Winter: He was a great guitar player and a really nice person too. His playing influenced me in a positive way. He was the best rock guitarist alive.
Buffaloe: I also know that you knew Janis Joplin very well. She was an outstanding performer on stage. What was your relationship professionally with her?
Winter: Janis was an outstanding performer, she sure was. As far as my relationship with her, she was a friend. We didn’t really do much together. Although, we sang together some but none of it is recorded. It was just impromptu, informal performances. She was something, she sure was.
Buffaloe: You and your younger brother Edgar Winter grew up together, but you have two completely different musical styles. What do you account for these differences and do you think these styles compliment each other?
Winter: Edgar and I do have completely different musical styles, you’re right about that. Our two styles do compliment each other. Edgar knows everything I do and we work great together. We never competed against each other musically or anything. We played for the same groups back then. We just went in different directions musically that’s all. Edgar and I just played a reunion show together in our hometown of Beaumont, Texas and it was great. We raised money for Hurricane Katrina victims down there.
Buffaloe: It seems a lot of British groups and performers such as LED ZEPPELIN, Eric Clapton, FOGHAT, Paul Rodgers, etc. really have a keen interest in American Blues. However, right here in America, lots of rock-n-roll people have overlooked or just taken the Blues for granted. Why do think that is?
Winter: Honestly, I don’t really know. I guess it’s taken for granted being right here at home.
Buffaloe: The movie “CROSSROADS” was the story of a Black Blues performer named Willie Brown (a friend of the late, great Robert Johnson) and a young White teenager who really wanted to play the blues. It seems that part of the story line of this movie was taken from your non-fictional life.
Winter: I am aware of the movie “CROSSROADS”; it’s a good film. But, how do you figure this movie contains an episode from my life?
Buffaloe: There are a couple of things in the movie that lead me to believe that. For example, there’s a scene in the movie where the white kid goes into the all black nightclub and wants to play. Willie Brown goes up to him and says, “Kid, you better be able to take them home, or we’re both dead”. The kid plays wonderfully and is fully accepted by everyone. I know the real life incident when you were 17 years old; you went to the all black blues club where B.B. King was playing. You requested to play with B.B. King. After being reluctant at first, he has you come up and play. You played so well and beautifully, the black people there stood up and gave you a standing ovation. B.B. King was amazed and even replied, “They’ve never given me a standing ovation, and this is my show!” It just struck me that these two incidents seemed very similar.
Winter: (Laughing) Kenny, I think you are reaching. I never got that impression from watching that movie. (Still laughing)
Buffaloe: Do you feel artists today are taking the music even further or just copying others before them? They don’t seem to have any solid roots or foundations in their music.
Winter: Honestly, I don’t believe artists today have solid roots or foundations. Music was better back in the “old days” in the 50’s. The heart and soul just isn’t there today as before.
Buffaloe: Johnny, when you play I can feel something. There’s something really special about your style.
Winter: Well, thank you. I appreciate that. I’m glad you enjoy it.
Buffaloe: What did you think of the great bluesman Robert Johnson and his legend?
Winter: Robert Johnson was the best slide guitar player that was ever around. So, to me, he was the best. As far as his legend goes, I don’t believe he sold his soul to the devil down at the crossroads. They are really reaching out there with that one. But, they said at first he couldn’t play guitar, but after he came back he could. So, right there is something to think about. Pretty strange. I can say his music had a tremendous impact on so many artists even to this day. That’s because he was so good. He was a natural performer.
Buffaloe: Your playing style is a complete harmonious blend of blues and rock-n-roll. A lot of artists try or attempt to achieve this, but it seems you do it quite naturally. When you play, you become the music. Do you see blues music and rock music as two separate distinct musical styles, or is it all just music to you, not separate entities?
Winter: Yeah. My music is a blend of blues and rock together. You’re right. And yes, when I play, I become the music. I don’t see blues and rock as two separate styles; it’s all just music to me. Rock-n-roll was born from the blues anyway. So, the rock-n-roll I play has got a lot of blues in it. I know a lot of bands do struggle with this. But, it just comes naturally to me. It’s a gift and I feel fortunate to have that ability.
Buffaloe: I lived in Japan for many years studying traditional Japanese martial arts there. My martial arts masters in Japan always told me music was intimately connected to the martial arts, as both are ‘expressions of your soul”. I have no musical ability; I simply love good music. I have developed a strong sixth sense from all my years in martial arts. I can feel something special from only certain performers. But, I can definitely feel something from your music. I can’t put my finger on what that is, but it’s there and it’s real.
Winter: Wow, that’s great. I had never thought of it that way, music connected to martial arts. Interesting. (Laughing)
Buffaloe: Congratulations on your new album “I’m A Bluesman”. It’s a great album that got several Grammy nominations. Even my 6-year-old son Christian really enjoys listening to this album. I think it’s amazing how your music is timeless and reaches all generations. How do you feel about that? Does it make you happy?
Winter: My new album “I’m A Bluesman” getting several Grammy nominations, that was very nice. You’re right, my music does reach all generations and that’s even reflected at my live shows. People from every age group. This makes me happy. I was always just hoping that positive things like that would happen. Things are beginning to come my way and I’m so thankful for that.
Buffaloe: Gibson Guitars is releasing the “Johnny Winter Firebird Guitar” in its guitar series. That’s quite an honor. You must be on cloud 9 about this. How does this make you feel?
Winter: They are putting out the “Johnny Winter Firebird” style guitar very soon. That’s about all I know so far. When it does come out, it should be real nice. I don’t really know yet when that will be. But, it should be sometime pretty soon, though. I think it’s an honor. I’m real happy about that.
Buffaloe: Recently, a lot of your early 1960’s and 1970’s albums are being re-released, remastered with bonus tracks on CD. They are finally doing your great work justice. I’m very happy for you at this point in your career.
Winter: You’re right about that. It sure is a long time coming for this. It makes me feel real good that people who wouldn’t ordinarily know are going out and ‘discovering’ this music with these recent reissues on CD. I’m real happy about it.
Buffaloe: What advice would you give an up and coming blues artist that wants to get started in the industry in this day and age?
Winter: Learn as much as you can and listen to as much as you can. Now is not a good time to get into the blues to play for a living. It’s real hard to get into the business right now. Corporate has almost killed the business. They are too involved.
Buffaloe: The 70’s were a great era for creative music. Why do you think the artists from the 70’s were so different from musicians of today?
Winter: Yeah, the 70’s were a great time for new, creative music. I don’t really have any idea why artists from the 70’s are different from artists today.
Buffaloe: You know, one interesting thing going on right now is that for the first time in history, young people of today are seeking out the music of their parents and grandparents from the 1970’s. Kids today say they don’t really like the music of their generation, that it has no heart and soul. So, they are seeking out the “old school” music. To me, that’s an interesting phenomenon and really says a lot about the music of today.
Winter: Yeah. Kids are seeking out the older music. This is what they enjoy listening to right now. It’s true that they’re just not “feeling” it from the music of their generation. It’s interesting, like the generation gap bridging. That’s the state of music currently I guess.
Buffaloe: Your second album, “Second Winter” is a pure, musical masterpiece. It ranked right up there with Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland” at the time of its release. Columbia/Legacy re-released it with bonus tracks and even a concert you did with your brother Edgar Winter at Albert Hall in England. Could you tell me of the creative process that went into making this historical album?
Winter: Firstly, you saying “Second Winter” rates up there with Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland”, I really appreciate you saying that. The bonus disc with the concert at Albert Hall in England, Edgar performed with me and we did different versions of certain songs that were studio recorded. As far as the creative process of making “Second Winter”, we just went in and did it. My music was never really played a lot on the radio. Fans are more familiar with Edgar’s songs like “Frankenstein”, “Take A Free Ride” or “Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo”. I really don’t know why a lot of what I did was overlooked. I honestly don’t know man. It’s hard to say about things like that. I can say that it hasn’t made me bitter at all. I’m just going to keep on playing music until I die.
Buffaloe: It’s great to see you back on the road on tour. Your new band is incredible. Those guys have so much talent. How are you feeling physically being back out there?
Winter: Have you heard or seen my new band?
Buffaloe: From the new album “I’m A Bluesman”, but not live yet. But, they sound great.
Winter: Being back on the road, I feel great physically. No problems. I love just playing music. I’m happy to be back out there.
Buffaloe: Could you share with us a story from the 1970’s concerning your career?
Winter: Well, I don’t know. It was pretty crazy back then, let’s just leave it at that. But, I’ve calmed down a lot now.
Buffaloe: I know you have done work with Muddy Waters on several occasions. You produced and played on three of Muddy Water’s albums including “Hard Again”, which won a Grammy Award. How was it working with this legendary artist and was Muddy Waters one of your inspirations?
Winter: Oh yeah! Muddy Waters was like a father to me. He was one of my favorite blues inspirations. Working with him was just great, a childhood dream come true. I knew all his music real well, so we had an easy time playing together. I was able to help him a lot at that point in his career and I was honored to do so. It meant a lot to me personally to get to play with him.
Buffaloe: Could you tell me about that occasion where you played with B.B. King at the age of 17. How did that come about?
Winter: Well, I went to the club where he was playing and kept bugging him to let me play. He finally did and I think he was genuinely surprised by my ability. All the people in the club were nice, they were not a hostile crowd or anything. In the Black community, I was always accepted as a hardcore blues performer.
Buffaloe: The current state of FM Radio makes it hard for performers and bands from the 70’s who are still making new music today. Classic radio stations will only play a band’s classic music from the 70’s, not their ‘new’ music. Modern rock radio, which plays ‘new’ music, won’t play a classic rock band’s new songs because they classify that band as a “classic rock band”. So, it’s a no-win, stuck in the middle situation that has to be extremely frustrating. How do you feel about this?
Winter: I don’t feel too good about that at all. They are playing my new song “I’m A Bluesman” on certain stations. Satellite radio is excellent. I listen to satellite radio a lot. I hear a lot of my songs on there that I wouldn’t hear on FM radio. I even hear my older songs on there too. It makes me feel real good to hear my stuff on there.
Buffaloe: Are there any last words or thoughts you would like to leave for your many fans and supporters, many of who like myself are fortunate to still be able to see you perform?
Winter: I’m just glad to still be able to do it, to still be around. I’m happy that everybody keeps listening to me. My tour is indefinite, we’re just going to keep on playing. I’m looking forward to playing in North Carolina, one of my favorite places to play. We’re even planning to go overseas and play a few shows in Germany where we’ve always had a strong fan base.
Buffaloe: I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this interview. I wish you only the best in the future in all your endeavors. It was an honor to do this interview with you. Take care and I’ll see you on the road.
Winter: I enjoyed it. I appreciate you taking the time to do this. Looking forward to seeing you and coming to North Carolina. Thank you.
About the Interviewer
Kenny Buffaloe is well known for his martial arts abilities and achievements. He has over 40 years training and experience under several world famous masters from Japan. What is not well known is his love for music. Kenny Buffaloe grew up listening to classic rock, southern rock, heavy rock and blues music since the age of six. Although he has no musical ability or talent, he really appreciates the work of true and talented performers and bands who play from the heart. Johnny Winter is one such performer and Buffaloe is grateful for the opportunity to interview this great blues icon.
Friday, 26 May 2006 - Johnny Winter at House of Blues Chicago
For any of you Johnny Winter fans I would like to report that hearing Johnny and the band at the House Of Blues/Chicago last Friday (5/26/06) was a great time. I have been a long time fan of him and have recently read stories of his ill health and some fans reporting that he just "doesn't have it" anymore. Yes, he isn't that young man from Texas that was courted by Columbia Records back in 1969....Johnny is now 62 years old. Reports of him having to be helped onto the stage and being nearly blind have been grossly exaggerated. It was heart warming to see a roadie assist a slightly hunched over Johnny as he negotiated scattered audio cables and equipment to take his place upon a comfy looking old chair at center stage where he resided for the entire show. Reports of Johnny being nearly blind may stem from the fact that albinos have a heightened sensitivity to light. I noticed that through-out the 75 minute performance he rarely opened his eyes to the stage lights. Looking at his watch near the end told me he is not blind as previous reports have stated. The one thing I missed upon hearing Johnny's latest Grammy nominated album was his howling style vocal attack. His vocals on the album actually sounded weak and strained. This was not the case during the House Of Blues performance however. He sounded much stronger and was able to summon up some very enthusiastic vocals much to the delight of the audience. The set contained approximately 12-14 songs and was tight and polished. Taking time to drink water between a few songs, there was other tunes that led into the next with precision. Although guitarist Paul Nelson opened up with the first song, he bowed out and never returned once Johnny took the stage. Also missing was James Montgomery's harmonica playing that was present on many of the cuts from the latest cd "I'm A Bluesman". As a former bass player myself, I was captivated by Scott Spray's playing......he was in command of his instrument, much more likened to a virtuoso than merely a bass player. Rounding out the 3 man band was Wayne June on drums.....simply awesome! These two guys were simply not just "backing up" a legend--the three of them were totally enthusiastic to be playing the blues together and the crowd knew it. Using a Erlewine Lazer guitar for the majority of the performance, I thought his playing was clean and heartfelt.....this isn't a guy just touring to make a few bucks. It is obvious that Johnny continues to perform to audiences all over the country because he just loves to play. Switching to a Gibson Firebird, Johnny finished out the show with some slide guitar work, using it to play the encore "Highway 61" to a roaring crowd....a great performance by one of the best blues guitarists ever.
Fri/Saturday 18-18 August Fargo Blues Festival
Thursday, 24 August 2006 D-Club (Docks) in Hamburg (Germany
Thursday, 31 August 2006 Johnny Winter Paradiso Amsterdam
Johnny Winter at Paradiso Amsterdam.
The 31th of August 2006, Johnny gave a concert at the Paradiso concert hal in Amsterdam and of course I was there.
7 December 2006 Johnny Winter State Theatre in St. Pete, Florida,
The Johnny Winter concert on December 7th, at the State Theatre in St. Pete, Florida, was very good. Johnny walked on, no cane, and sat down. A roadie put his lazer guitar on him, and situated his mike. Paul Nelson had already played a warm up song with the band on stage, so the crowd was geared for Johnny. Oh, I should say that this is the first time of many, many bar shows I've seen, that the band came on at the scheduled time, 9PM. Paul Nelson left the stage, and Johnny opened with Hideaway, and continued on with Sugar Coated Love, then completely surprised me with Miss Anne from Second Winter.
Johnny's playing was very good, and his voice was surprisingly strong. The only thing I really noticed was that Johnny had replaced some of the tricky slide work on Highway 61, with running the slide down over the first pickup on his Firebird. The crowd liked this, and didn't seem to be aware of what used to be their lick wise. Fortunately I was very close, maybe 6 or 7 feet from Johnny, and only saw him struggle with a couple of riffs, which he was able to recover un-noticably to the crowd, and remained fluid. I didn't notice any missed lyrics. Johnny is back.
The crowd at this show surprised me. I really wasn't used to seeing young people, and gay couples at Johnny shows. This crowd was a mix of every walk of life, and everyone seemed to be having a great time. The girl who had positioned herself dead center of Johnny's chair, resting her head on folded arms on top of his monitor through the whole show, couldn't have been older than 21. I would have guessed younger, but I saw a girl not allowed in because she was below the drinking age, at the door. And it was great hearing the comments of people as they left the show. I heard the words "Legend", "Guitar God", and "Master" all being used in praise of Johnny, as people filed out into the street.
Actually I doubt this show was unusual to any show Johnny is doing on this tour. I could tell that Johnny was giving the performance everything he had, and this little club in St. Pete Florida on a Thursday night in December, wasn't going to be any different to the effort Johnny was going to put into the rest of the tour.
Paul Nelson, Johnny's new manager, really deserves a huge amount of credit in giving Johnny his health and life back, and cleaning up a mess that Teddy Slatus (Johnny's prior manager of years) created. Paul is working on a book that details all of this, which I am really looking forward to, but until then, if Johnny Guitar comes to your town, go. You won't be sorry. Tom Richards