Johnny Winter @ Turner Hall Ballroom
Aug. 15, 2008
Johnny Winter slowly walked onstage, joining his band as they warmed the crowd up. He looked like a Texas blues specter, dressed in black, his cowboy hat shadowing his eyes, his face framed by long, white hair, his arms covered with faded tattoos. He took a seat, picked up his guitar and joined along with the scorching showdown of an instrumental his band had begun.
At 64 years old, he moved cautiously, and had to remain seated to play. His fingers were lightening quick, though, playing southern-fried blues licks at a wild, but controlled pace. His voice was also loud and capable of a strong blues wail. His band was able to keep up with him, with Scott Spray on bass, Tony Beard on drums and back-up guitarist Paul Nelson, who played for the last part of the set.
Throughout the years, Winter has had several major accomplishments. He and his brother, musician Edgar Winter, shared the stage at Woodstock. Winter was the producer for two Grammy-winning albums by Muddy Waters, a major influence on his own music. He has also had plenty to sing the blues about over the years, including drug addiction and poor management.
He seemed at ease and enjoying himself at the Turner Hall Ballroom, smiling and politely introducing each song in a southern drawl. Winter stuck to his Texas roadhouse style blues, amping it up for fast paced smokers like "Johnny Guitar," but staying away from his rock hits such as "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo."
After an hour long set, the appreciative audience chanted "Johnny!" until Winter returned for a two-song encore, closing the night with a live favorite, a crunching version of Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited."