Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones once said, “If you don’t know the blues… there’s no point in picking up the guitar and playing rock and roll or any other form of popular music.”
Beginning in late July, the Rock’n’Blues Fest will debut featuring five well-known players who were initially inspired to pick up their instruments due to their love for rock and blues: Johnny Winter, Edgar Winter, Rick Derringer, Leslie West and Kim Simmonds (see tour itinerary below).
“I think the blues will always be around,” says legendary blues guitarist Johnny Winter, who will be performing as part of the Johnny Winter Band and headlining the Rock’n’Blues Fest tour. “People need it.”
As the story goes, at the age of 17, Johnny went to see B.B. King in his home state of Texas, and requested a turn at the mic. King eventually gave in and handed his guitar to Johnny, who ended up getting a standing ovation for his performance. Needless to say, it wouldn’t be long before Johnny had his own legion of followers.
Johnny released his first solo album, The Progressive Blues Experiment, and the music world took notice, leading to his historic performance at Woodstock. Twenty years and several successful solo albums later, he was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame. In the late 70’s, he collaborated with another blues legend, Muddy Waters, on three separate albums of Waters’, including the Grammy-winning Hard Again (1977). Over the years, he put out approximately two dozen solo albums including his most recent highly-acclaimed recording entitled, Roots, which he and his band recently performed a track from on Late Show with David Letterman. Named as one of Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, Johnny Winter still remains one of the top blues/rock guitarists touring today.
Joining Johnny for the Rock’n’Blues Fest “ride” will be his younger brother, Edgar Winter, who has certainly met with considerable acclaim in his own right with such monster hits as “Free Ride” and the chart-topping rocker, “Frankenstein.”
“As far as I’m concerned, blues and jazz are the great American contributions to music,” comments Edgar, who will be bringing the Edgar Winter Band along for the almost two-month trek.
A multi-instrumentalist (keyboards/sax/percussion) whose music encompasses many different genres including rock, blues, jazz and pop, Edgar first hit the national spotlight with his early recording of “Tobacco Road,” featured on his 1970 debut album, Entrance. Edgar would soon form the band White Trash and release two hit albums in ’71 and ’72 titled, Edgar Winter’s White Trash and Roadwork. Hot on the heels of the certified gold album, Roadwork, Edgar would put together an entirely new outfit called The Edgar Winter Group that would originally feature guitarist Ronnie Montrose. The band’s first effort, They Only Come Out at Night, would spawn both the hit singles, “Free Ride” and “Frankenstein,” and remain on the charts for an incredible 80 consecutive weeks. The pivotal album would eventually reach double-platinum status, selling more than 2 million copies. More recently, Edgar achieved chart success in 2003 with the song, “Dying To Live” — featured as “Runnin” (Dying to Live) in the film Tupac Resurrection — as the Eminem-produced song hit #5 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles sales chart. With over 20 albums and numerous collaborative efforts to his credit, Edgar Winter has not been satisfied to ride the wave of popular music stardom. His music has been featured in several major national television and radio and advertising campaigns. In addition, his music can be heard in no fewer than fifteen film and television projects.
Next on the bill is rock guitarist Rick Derringer, who’s had an illustrious career as both a solo artist and critical band member.
Air guitarists will surely be out in force when Rick breaks into his well-known rock anthem, “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo.” The song continues to be a staple on rock radio and was featured in several movies including The Spirit of ’76, Rush, Stag, What A Girl Wants and the cult classic, Dazed and Confused. It’s a little known fact that years before his success as a solo artist, Rick had a band at the age of 17 called The McCoys that had a #1 hit in 1965 called, “Hang on Sloopy.” The song would eventually be knocked out of the top spot by The Beatles’ “Yesterday.” A year after its release, The McCoys would find themselves as the openers for the entire Rolling Stones American tour. Although written and recorded a few years earlier, Rick released his most famous version of the song in 1974 and never looked back… In 1977, he would appear on the last Led Zeppelin North American Tour. In the years to follow, Rick would perform with such artists as Alice Cooper (“Under My Wheels”), Steely Dan (“Show Biz Kids” and “Chained Lightning”), KISS, Todd Rundgren and Weird Al Yankovic among others including both Johnny and Edgar Winter. From 1986 to 1992, Rick would tour with Cindy Lauper and co-write a song from her True Colors album titled, “Calm Inside The Storm.” Before embarking on last year’s Hippiefest tour, Rick toured Europe with Ringo Starr as a member of Ringo’s All-Starr Band.
Although perhaps best known as a founding member of the band Mountain, guitarist Leslie West began his musical career with an R&B/Blue-eyed soul rock outfit called The Vagrants, who would quickly enjoy a few hits. Shortly after the formation of Mountain with bass guitarist/producer Felix Pappalardi, keyboardist Steve Knight and drummer N.D. Smart in 1969, the band would find themselves performing on day two of the legendary Woodstock festival in August of that year. Not too long after the event, new drummer Corky Laing would join the fold and the band would release their first Billboard Top 40 single, “Mississippi Queen.” The rest is rock history as the song would be played on rock radio for years to come. Mountain would follow-up that hit with the Jack Bruce-penned, “Theme for an Imaginary Western,” one of the eleven songs they performed at Woodstock. Considered one of the pioneers of heavy metal, Rolling Stone magazine once identified them as a “louder version of Cream.” In the early seventies, Mountain would temporarily disband with Leslie and Corky collaborating with Creem bassist Jack Bruce for a cutting-edge group called West, Bruce and Laing. In 1976, West would play guitar for the track, “Bo Diddley Jam” on Diddley’s 20th Anniversary of Rock’n’Roll all-star album. In 2005, he contributed to Ozzy Osbourne’s Under Cover album, performing guitar on a remake of “Mississippi Queen.” The following year, he immersed himself in the blues, once again, with his latest solo album titled, Blue Me, on the Blues Bureau International label. Later that year (2006), he would be honored by being inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. In addition to fronting Mountain, Leslie continues to record and perform on his own.
Considered one of the architects of British blues, Kim Simmonds began performing professionally in London in the mid-60’s after learning how to play guitar by listening to his brother’s blues records as a teenager. As leader and founder of the legendary blues rock band, Savoy Brown, he has 49 album releases currently available and continues to tour all over the world with the band as well as a solo acoustic act. In 1967, the band would help propel the UK blues boom movement that brought blues music back to the United States, invigorating the style forever. In the process, Savoy Brown became part of the framework that launched the rock and roll music of the 1970’s, with their vast influence stretching into modern rock as we know it today. In 2011, the band celebrated its 45th anniversary by releasing a new CD titled, Voodoo Moon. Later in the year, Kim would release his most recent effort, Out Of The Blue, a collection of varied material that placed him in a new setting as both singer and songwriter. Among the most loved, most respected and longest running of its genre, Savoy Brown is one of the magical names in blues rock. Kim Simmonds will be performing the best of the best at this year’s Rock’n’Blues Fest.
Due to their close involvement with each other throughout their careers, it’s likely that various artists on the forthcoming Rock’n’Blues Fest will unite on stage to perform some unexpected classic songs together.
One can only hope.
Five great musicians… one incredible tour of rock and blues music.
Who said, “There ain’t no cure for the summertime blues?”
ROCK’N’BLUES FEST TOUR 2012*
DAY / DATE / VENUE / CITY
Sunday, July 29 – Pantages Theater in Tacoma, Washington (w/o Leslie West)
Wednesday, August 1 – The Winery in Saratoga, California
Friday, August 3 – Sam’s Woodsite in Mammoth Lakes, California
Saturday, August 4 – The Grove in Anaheim, California
Sunday, August 5 – The Palms Concert Theatre in Las Vegas, Nevada
Thursday, August 9 – Cape Cod Melody Tent in Hyannis, Massachusetts
Friday, August 10 – Newport Yachting Center in Newport, Rhode Island
Saturday, August 11 – Spy Class Ridge Winery in Sunbury, Pennsylvania
Sunday, August 12 – County Center in Westchester, New York
Tuesday, August 14 – Bergen Performing Arts Center in Bergen, New Jersey
Wednesday, August 15 – Keswick Theatre in Glenside, Pennsylvania
Thursday, August 16 – Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, New Jersey
Friday, August 17 – South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset, Massachusetts
Saturday, August 18 – NYCB Theatre in Westbury, New York
Sunday, August 19 – Mount Laurel Performing Arts Center in Bushkill, Pennsylvania
Tuesday, August 21 – Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, New Jersey
Friday, August 24 – The Peabody Auditorium in Daytona Beach, Florida (date billed as “Hippiefest”)
Wednesday, August 29 – Fraze Pavilion in Kettering, Ohio
Thursday, August 30 – DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, Michigan
Friday, August 31 – Country Club Hills Theatre in Chicago, Illinois
*More Dates To Be Announced (http://www.pollstar.com/resultsArtist.aspx?ID=271301&SearchBy=rocknblues)
QUOTES FROM THE ARTISTS REGARDING ROCK’N’BLUES FEST 2012
“The Rock’n’Blues Fest is my kind of festival series! It’s always great playing shows with my brother and, add to that, all the other great artists and their bands and this should make for one historic round of concerts.”
“This year’s Hippiefest tour is truly a ‘Rock’n’Blues Fest’ — a landmark, historic, musical celebration of which my band and I are proud to be a part. It’s going to be a Guitar Guru Gala of Gargantuan proportions. For me personally, it will simply be the Greatest! So, see you at one of the dates on the tour. Believe me, this is not one you want to miss. All I can say is … Get Ready To Rock’n’Roll!!!”
“This Rock’n’Blues Fest / Hippiefest roster promises a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see some of the best, legendary artists of our lifetime. I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
“I am happy to be able to be part of this Rock’n’Blues Fest as the first tour since the amputation of my right leg. I hope this gives me a leg up on the new year!”
“This is my first time performing in Rock’n’Blues Fest / Hippiefest and it was an offer I couldn’t refuse… I’m a big fan of all the other musicians participating, having played gigs with most of them in the 1960’s. It’s a great feeling of continuity, knowing we’re all still around playing better than ever.”