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No free ride as Edgar Winter keeps his creativity in high gear

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2016

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Edgar Winter has never had a problem playing music made famous by his older brother Johnny Winter, or that they made together.

And that hasn't changed since Johnny's death two years ago.

"How can I not do it?" Winter, 69, says by phone from his home in Los Angeles. "I'm the last Winter. This the end of our line. Neither of us had children, so it's up to me to make sure this music lives and people remember who (Johnny) was and what he did."

Edgar, of course, is no slouch himself. He launched the band White Trash in 1971 really scored with the Edgar Winter Group and its first album, "They Only Come Out At Night," which spawned the, er, monster hits "Frankenstein" and "Free Ride." But beyond that mainstream success is a vast repertoire that encompasses blues, jazz, R&B and more, a diversity Winter credits with being brought up in Texas (Beaumont, specifically) and learning from the state's own wide-ranging musical environment.

"When I was growing up I didn't realize how lucky I was," he says now. "I didn't appreciate Texas until I came to New York later in life and realized that there really was a musical heritage. I thought, 'Ah, New York, they're gonna have the greatest players in the world,' but there was nothing you could characterize as a New York sound. And there definitely was a Texas sound."

Winter, meanwhile, has spread his own sound in a variety of configurations. He's still leading his own band but also did stints with four of Ringo Starr's All-Starr Bands. And more recently he's played on albums by Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam and even William Shatner.

His future docket is full as well. He's working on a book of poems inspired by his wife, Monique, as well as a science fiction fantasy series. Winter has also started writing music for a "musical comedy" stage adaptation of "Frankenstein." And he figures it won't be long before he does another album, possibly even addressing his brother's passing on his next release.

"I haven't done an album in a while, and I've had an offer to do a blues album," he acknowledges. But, y'know, I did 'Winter Blues' with Johnny, and I just didn't want to do a Johnny tribute album. I don't want people to think that I'm trying to exploit Johnny's memory. But at the same time I would like to do something to show my love and respect.

"So I really don't know what my next thing's going to be. I'm just always interested in pushing the envelope and finding new directions and new things to do. So we'll see."

The Edgar Winter Band

8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26.

El Club, 4114 W. Vernor Highway, Detroit.

Tickets are $35 in advance, $50 at the door.

Visit elclubdetroit.com for more details.

Web Site: www.elclubdetroit.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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