SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – You can’t call it a comeback, because he never really went away. And even though he deserves one, you can’t call it a victory lap, because he has no intentions of ever stopping. Living legend and blues-rock icon Johnny Winter will bring his band to the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) on Saturday, March 8, for what is sure to be a blistering tour-de-force.
Winter’s career has taken him from being a Texas-blues upstart performing at Woodstock to global ambassador and elder statesman of the blues. On the verge of turning 70 years old, the guitar slinger says he has never enjoyed performing more than he does now.
“It’s just fun,” Winter said. “I never get tired of playing. Sometimes I get tired of being on the road, but I never get tired of playing.”
Much of the credit for Winter’s resurgence on the music scene can be attributed to Paul Nelson, who became his manager, producer and the second guitarist in his band in 2005.
“I had a horrible manager before Paul,” Winter said. “We met when we were both playing at the same studio, and we hit it off.”
Nelson is credited with helping to break Winter of his years-long addiction to methadone, which followed his years hooked on heroin. He says he is drug-free and no longer even drinks. The two have played, recorded and toured together ever since.
“Johnny’s in the best shape he’s been in years,” said Nelson. “You can see it when you look at him, and you can hear it in his playing.”
A new record, entitled “Step Back” is slated to be released next month, and features an amazing list of guests, including Lesley West, Joe Bonamassa, Mark Knopfler, Brian Setzer. Joe Perry, Billy Gibbons and Greg Allman. This will be the follow-up to the Grammy-nominated Roots album, which featured an equally impressive list of guest stars like Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Vince Gill, Jimmy Vivino and Johnny’s brother Edgar Winter.
Prior to the SOPAC concert, Paul Nelson will be leading a one-hour special guitar master class, and will be joined by Johnny Winter’s band (although not Winter himself). The class will feature instruction on the blues, rock, scales, chords and theories for guitar players of all levels. Participants are encouraged to bring their own guitar to the class, which will take place in the SOPAC loft at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 8. Admission is $40 and may be purchased here: Paul Nelson Master Guitar Class tickets.
Tickets to the 8 p.m. concert may be purchased here: SOPAC Johnny Winter tickets.
Here’s a video of Johnny Winter and Paul Nelson performing on Late Night with David Letterman:
We have a few copies of Johnny Winter's CD, "Roots," which will be given to the first people to email me at DLackey@TheAlternativePress.com. Just put "Johnny Winter" in the subject line. All gone.