Lady Jane and I attended the Johnny Winter show at the lovely C2G Music Hall this past Friday night. It was too hard to pass up seeing a blues-rock legend like him, and we were not disappointed. Even though he has aged quite a bit (he appeared to need assistance getting off the stage), he still played the heck out of his guitar and knows how to rock.
I can't remember the name of the guy who opened for him (he was from South Bend), but he was really good too. He had the only acoustic guitar I've ever seen with a whammy bar. It was a nice way to start the show, but as he said himself, he felt "kind of like John Denver opening for Jimi Hendrix." It blended well though. I enjoyed not only his superb guitar playing and soft voice, but he had a certain youthful excitement to him that just made you feel good. I need to try to find out his name.
As for Johnny, he was kind of a breath of fresh air in his own right. Yes, I said that. He simply walked out on stage with his drummer and bass player, sat on a stool in front of a single mic, put his mocassin-ed feet on either side of the mic stand, and just ripped into song after song. There was no sea of effects pedals, no arsenal of guitars, and no banter about politics or causes. Certainly a younger performer would have wanted to establish more of a connection with their audience, but Johnny was all about the music.
It is also possible that he didn't feel good. I kid you not, he blew his nose into a black hankey after EVERY SINGLE SONG. It was kind of funny after awhile. He did look pretty old too. Probably older than the 69 that it says on his bio. He walked pretty hunched over, never moved around other than to shuffle out onto the stage and back off when he was done. He didn't even tap his feet while playing. There was also no encore. When he was done, he was done. I respect that. I don't particularly care for people who try to beg for more applause.
I heard on the radio that he stayed afterward and anyone that wanted to visit with him was invited into his RV and he talked to every single person. I guess it went on quite awhile. What a nice gesture.
All in all it was a pretty good night. The hall was the most crowded I have ever seen it. In fact, I talked to Mary (who was serving drinks) and she said it was the biggest crowd she had ever seen for a show - except maybe Richie Havens. It was pretty packed. And we had great seats. We were on the right side, four seats from the stage. I had a clear view right up the aisle to Johnny.
I don't really like to part with money for these bigger-name performers, but we figure we may not always have the opportunity to see bands like this so we want to take advantage of it while we can. Plus, how much longer are we going to be able to see some of these Woodstock-era people. So I'm glad we went.