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Johnny Winter

I gotta say, it was a sweet night night opening for Johnny Winter at BB Kings Blues Club in NYC. It’s so not the first time my band has had the privilege…we have the same booking agent, and for a moment, in my past, we had the same manager. So it would be easy to take these shows for granted. But as the years go by, and we lose our great blues masters, I can only cherish them more!

The first time I met Johnny was also the first night I ever saw him do his thing, live. It was New Year’s Eve, 1988, and I was on tour with Albert Collins and The Icebreakers. We were performing as a double bill with Johnny at the all new, Hard Rock Cafe in Dallas, Texas. We were part of the Hard Rock’s opening celebrations, and this club would be the for-runner for many more Hard Rock Cafes to come, and inspiration for the House of Blues Clubs and Planet Hollywoods of years to come. I mean, who in 1988 had ever seen a bar built in the shape of a giant guitar, its neck complete with giant frets!

The crowd was a vibrant mix of colorful Texans, both blacks and whites, wearing large, fancy hats and giant furs! My southern California roots where “casual” is the prevailing style for all events, did not prepare me for this world, which was still so entertaining and exciting for me!! Happy New Year!

Johnny hit the stage in a black Tuxedo coat with tails over what I took to be a white T-shirt with some kind of scary monster face on the front. It was already about an hour into his show when I moved closer to the stage and suddenly realized that this was no T-shirt at all, but Johnny’s pure white skin sporting the crazy tattoo! No, tattoo culture was in it’s infancy back then.

Of course we were so much younger then…Johnny performs his shows mostly sitting down, these days, and that killer blues voice has been mostly reduced to gravel now. But as he took the stage on Wed. night he refused to sit. Though slightly bent, he stood for the packed house at BB’s, toughing it out for the whole first tune. My guys were commenting to me how much healthier and stronger he looked than last time! I know it’s cuz he loves to play, and has such a supportive group of folks around him on and off stage. I hung out with Johnny and the band a bit after the show, and he seemed genuinely happy! We chatted amplifiers and bit, and then I needed to make way for the huge line of fans waiting to adore him. Amazingly, Johnny gave each and every one his time!

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LRBCR Review

My week with Tommy Castro and his LEGENDARY RHYTHYM AND BLUES REVIEW is gonna go down as one of the best weeks of this year! I guess I would have to tie that with my week in Florida and swimming with Dolphins! Speaking of which, i have been wanting to write about each of our tours….I want to be blogging! But I guess it’s better to be too busy too blog! I’m always grateful to be working but I will be trying to catch up on all of this, however!

Meanwhile, Tommy Castro is one of the driving forces in the blues world today, and I am so grateful for his friendship! He is truly a good man, and such an inspiration to be around, both musically and personally! The Pain Killers, his new band, are kicking major ass, and for this review Tommy added Chris Cain, Terry Hanck, and of course myself ! I have to say that both Chris and Terry have been long time favs of mine, so I was in heaven playing and hanging with them! Chris’ guitar playing is absolutely peerless! There is nobody like him out there, and those of you who are hip to him know what I am talking about! He’s one of the sweetest people ever, and we enjoyed reminiscing about Albert Collins and Albert King! Chris is one of those true musicians who is egoless and totally willing to show me some of his signature licks! Playing them is one thing, but it’s Chris’ feel and placement that make everything he does on guitar so special!

Terry I remember from my early days in the Bay Area sitting at the feet of all of the great bands back in the day….he played with Elvin Bishop, and my first little band, Kokomo, had the honor of opening for them several times! Terry, like Chris, is a triple threat, as a killer song writer, and one of a very small group of true R’nB singers on the circuit today. His sax playing is so greasy that if ya get too close to him on stage, ya might just slip and slide right off! He can hit high notes that other players merely squeak at! His stage presence and vibe on and off stage never strays from being one cool cat!

So, besides getting to play and hang with such awesome folks, I was thrilled to be back in my old stomping ground in No. Ca.!! It was so uplifting walking and breathing that air, especially in Tahoe! The venues we played were all packed and very beautiful, and our accommodations were top notch! Thanks always, Tommy! Folks, it’s not always this good out there on the road, so ya gotta treasure these experiences when they come down the pike!

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