CONCERT REVIEW: No spring chicken, but Winter a legend
Sometimes, reality defies the legend.
That appeared to be the case just before iconic bluesman Johnny Winter took the stage at the Kamloops Convention Centre on Friday, Oct. 7.
It was a moment I had been excited to see since the stop was announced weeks before.
Winter is one of those guitarists you simply have to see if you’re a fan of the blues.
I was standing next to the stage — ready to take photos to go with this review (alas, my camera conked out and no photos survived), with a massive smile planted on my face.
The band kept on playing, but no Johnny.
A quick glance behind the stage revealed a wizened, frail-looking man with what appeared to be a towel over his head, sitting on a chair.
Strands of the revealing white hair caused by Winter’s albino condition could be seen.
I started to take some photos, but stopped.
It seemed wrong to invade that reality in search of the legend.
Major reality check.
This was Johnny Winter, a man many would not consider old at 67, but who has lived a life most of us can’t imagine, one filled with booze, drugs and a catalogue of some of the most incredible music ever recorded.
He rose from his chair and walked gingerly to the stairs that would take him up to he stage.
He climbed them slowly, smiled at the standing-room-only crowd and took his seat on a simple chair at the front of the stage.
The legend had arrived.
It seemed like only his hands and fingers moved; the rest of Winter sat still and almost separate from the environment as he spent the next 90 minutes or so going through all those songs that have created the legend.
Stage banter isn’t Winter’s strong suit.
He introduced his band, exchanged a few pleasantries but, beyond that, simply sat and played.
At one point, he stood for a song but, once it was finished, he was back in his chair.
Winter is not a showman anymore.
He’s not prancing around the stage, throwing out platitudes about how happy he is to be (fill in whatever tour stop this is here).
He’s not asking us to rush to the merchandise table and buy his latest release — although there was a merchandise table but, if you didn’t see it, you might not have known.
He’s not showing how “cool” he is by throwing around street jargon.
He is, pure and simple, a musical legend.
Winter’s body may be starting to betray him, but his hands, his fingers, his ear and his genius have not failed.
It’s as if he found his own crossroad somewhere on Highway 61 and those of us who love the blues continue to benefit from that reality.
ENCORE — Next up at the Kamloops Convention Centre are the Zombies, with the Acoustic Strawbs, on Wednesday, Oct. 12, followed by Gino Monopoli’s Elvis Tribute on Oct. 14 and Pavlo on Oct. 16.