Skip to main content

The Johnny Winter Band At The Mahaiwe In Great Barrington, Mass. January 23, 2009


I am republishing my 2009 concert review in memory and in honor of the late great Johnny Winter.

It had been nearly four years since I saw Johnny Winter perform live. That was the first time for me back on that hot summer night in Arlington, Mass. This night was like stepping into an alternate universe. The weather was the exact opposite and so was the performer. I did enjoy seeing Johnny for the first time but I had nothing to compare it to, now I do.

Johnny was just coming off hip surgery and a long time drug addiction and needed help to get on the stage. I am glad to report that he is doing so much better these days. He has gained over 30 pounds, makes his way out the stage on his own, and is playing and singing like a man 20 years his junior. Before and after the show I had the privilege of speaking with Johnny thanks to his manager and guitar player Paul Nelson. Paul does everything from managing the band and tours, playing and recording with Johnny, anything you can think of Paul is right there for Johnny making sure everything is handled properly. Prior to the show Johnny was in his “zone” and not very talkative, it was like his pre-game mental workout. After the show, he was bright-eyed and was open to conversation. He explained that he was quite ill four years ago and in fact was on anti-depressants that made him sick. He commented in a funny way “I was on Klonapin, they worked, and I wasn’t depressed, but it made me real sick.”  Johnny also mentioned when I asked about any new recordings, it will be a while but they are recording some new tracks and its going to be very special. I mentioned how great the band sounded tonight, and Johnny looked up at me, visibly energized and focused in the moment, he then commented, “I had lot of fun tonight.”

The Mahaiwe reminded me of The Colonial in Pittsfield, Mass. but just a bit smaller. It is a beautiful facility, and it ought to be after investing 9 million dollars into it for renovations. There is a massive intricate marble or concrete carving that goes around the stage, creating an old-fashioned picture frame for the performing artist to step into. With very simple and colorful lighting for a backdrop, it made a pleasant treat for the eyes.

The band introduced Johnny in grand fashion tonight. Everyone came out and then started into a free form jam, lead by Paul Nelson, who is quite a six-string slinger in his own right. After around 5 minutes of high-energy instrumental blues-rock, Johnny came out and sat down on his stool and the festivities began.

Johnny’s voice is strong and his playing sounds as fresh and inspired as it has ever been. Some highlights of the night were “Blackjack” a smokin’ number that prompted hoots and hollers from the audience. Although the audience was appreciative of the band’s efforts they certainly were not your typical blues crowd, in fact they were subdued in comparison to what I have witnessed in the past. That did not matter, as the Johnny Winter Band proved to be worth the price of admission from start to finish.

Other highlights of the evening included the Hendrix song “Red House,” which was smoldering hot. Winter did it justice and I know Jimi is smiling somewhere right now. Another performance that was exemplary and one that everyone acknowledged immediately was perhaps Johnny’s most widely know song “Highway 61,” which ended up being part of the encore. I also have to mention the one song the drummer Vito Liuzzi provided the lead vocals for, “Tore Down,” it was a rousing number filled with soul and sweat, a real blues classic done well.

This was a very special night and one I will never forget. Thanks for coming back to music, your legacy Johnny, continues to grow with every performance and album you release.


Set List:

Paul Nelson Intro Jam
Hideaway
Sugar Coated Love
Boogie Real Low
Miss Anne
Blackjack
Tore Down-Vito vocals
Lone Wolf
Red House
Johnny Guitar
It’s All Over Now
(Encore)
Mojo Boogie
Highway 61 

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck

January 24, 2009

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

New Age Instrumental Review: Anaya Music-AONKI – Gateway of Love (Cosmic New Age Music)

Release Date: February 2, 2018 Label: Anaya Music Website
Around this time a year ago I had the experience of listening to Anaya Music and providing coverage of Eternity.  It was an uplifting experience and a memorable listen as I recall.
Now with February drawing closer AONKI – Gateway of Love (Cosmic New Age Music) will arrive.
Once again, the recording features several exceptional collaborations between Anaya Music and a live virtual symphony orchestra recorded in the heart of Prague, the capital of the Czech republic. The orchestra combines members of the finest ensembles in Prague, including the Czech Philharmonic.
I think they should rename the orchestra to “The Live Spiritual Orchestra.” If you have been exposed to Anaya Music you will understand what that means. If this is your first journey with this music you will find out very quickly. Either way, this is spiritually uplifting music that leaves a smile on your soul. It’s like the term digital footprint, there is an everlasting m…

Jazz Fusion-Rock-Pop-Funk Review: Project Grand Slam-Trippin’

Release Date: June 29, 2018 Label: Cakewalk Records Website
This will be my sixth voyage into the world of Project Grand Slam (PGS). So, what is this experience going to be like this time? I would expect the same great combination of jazz, rock, funk, and pop that I always enjoyed.

Just so you all know PGS is: Robert Miller (bass), Mario Castro (saxophones), Bayden Goyo (keyboards), Joel E. Mateo (drums), Guillermo Barron Rios (percussion), Tristan Clark (guitar) and the beautiful Ms. Ziarra Washington (vocals).

So, now we are Trippin’ into 2018 with PGS. And the first track titled “1972” was like turning on the radio and hearing the Average White Band or Tower of Power. Yes sir, on the AM dial, it came blaring through back in those days. 

The title track is a real gas too. This number has some great sax from Castro and a killer rhythm section courtesy of Miller and Mateo. It shines the spotlight on them clear and bright. Let me tell you, those two are like the dynamic duo, kind of like a p…

New Biography on The Cars Singer/Bassist Benjamin Orr by Vermont Writer Joe Milliken to be Published November 2018!

Bellows Falls, VT – Veteran music journalist Joe Milliken recently announced a publishing deal with the Lanham, Maryland-based publisher Rowman & Littlefield Publishers to produce his first book, a biography about the late Benjamin Orr. Orr was the co-founder, co-lead singer, and bassist for the platinum-selling rock band The Cars. Titled Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars, a release date is set for November 15, 2018.

Often considered the band’s heartthrob, Orr possessed an incredible voice, diverse musical talent and rare stage presence, all balanced by a magnetic, yet enigmatic personality, striking good looks, and a relentless determination to reach rock stardom. Born Benjamin Orzechowski (aka “Benny Eleven Letters”) and raised in the Cleveland suburb of Parma Heights, Orr was, prior to becoming a world-famous rock star with The Cars, a “teen star” as a house band musician for the nationally syndicated television show Upbeat.

A few years later Ben met his musical partner and …