Johnny Winter In Concert
Show Date: February 1, 2012
Venue: The Granada Theater
3524 Greenville Avenue
Whoever tells you that lightning never strikes twice in the same place has never seen Johnny Winter perform twice at the beautiful Granada Theater in Dallas.
Still flying on the emotional high from his appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman, Johnny and his band came prepared to blow away the sold out crowd at the historic venue.
The crowd was thoroughly primed after killer sets by the opening acts, Damon Fowler and Jim Suhler. Fowler and his band were incredibly awesome. I had never heard of them before and was disappointed that I didn’t make it into the theater until his set was well underway. Great, great band that I hope to hear a lot more of in the future.
Homeboy, Jim Suhler followed and it was clear that many of his fans were in the audience because they seemed to know what he was going to play next before he played it. He and the band were tight – especially during their tribute to Rory Gallagher.
Almost precisely on time, Johnny Winter’s band – consisting of 2nd guitarist (and manager), Paul Nelson, Vito Liuzzi on drums and Scott Spray on bass – came out and played their signature “intro jam”. Towards the end of the jam, Winter was escorted to his chair where he held court and effortless blew through the gem, Hideaway.
Many crowd favorites were played. One of them, Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, was wild and I mean wild. That song kicked the door in for Got My Mojo Working, which brought the entire theater to its feet.
One personal favorite from the gig were, of course, Johnny B. Goode. I’m telling you, Johnny and the band drove that song like they stole it! If it’s a treat to see Winter in concert, it’s icing on the cake to witness him play this rock classic.
The other personal favorite was when Winter brought out his old friend, sax man Jon Smith for the song, Black Jack.
To say that the Johnny Winter concert at the Granada Theater was jaw-dropping good would be a complete understatement. The show put me in the rare position of being so enthralled with his incredible talent on the guitar, as well as the incredible musicianship of his band, I literally forgot to write down any of the songs that the man played.
To watch Winter walk out on stage and just start stomping out the blues was mesmerizing. I am not a musician. I don’t even play one on TV. However, I’m one of those odd ducks that enjoy watching the techniques of great musicians as they perform their craft. In watching Johnny do his thang on the six string, it’s obvious that he’s forgotten more about playing the blues than any of us would ever hope to know.
Winter played his set list with such familiarity that he seldom glanced at the fret board as he played. His long, slender fingers effortlessly flowed all over his guitar as he alternatively played lead and rhythm.
For me, the highlight of the show was Winter’s treatment of the blues standard, Red House. Watching him play the great tune made me feel that I was somehow watching a rare, historic event. And to think his performance at Woodstock with his brother, Edgar, didn’t make the movie’s original cut!
Johnny’s band included guitarist and manager, Paul Nelson, who was almost equally as mesmerizing to watch as Winter; Scott Spray provided excellent, steady bass work while Vito Liuzzi pounded the skins as well as any great professional drummer I’ve ever heard.
The opening act was a man that I had never heard of before but, I promise you, I’ll never forget. His name is Mike Zito and all I can say is “WOW!”. Zito’s guitar work blew me away – especially when he performed the title cut from his latest CD, Pearl River. There’s just something about a great guitar player that’s part of a great three piece band. Zito joined Winter on the stage for one song but I could’ve watched them both jam all night.
Keep an eye on this guy - he’s good – REALLY good!
This was the first concert I’ve experienced in the Granada Theater. It’s an intimate and comfortable venue with dinner tables and descent food available at reasonable rates. All of the staff that I came in contact with were helpful and friendly. I’m looking forward to seeing many more shows at this place. You should, too.
To find out if Johnny Winter is playing in your neck of the woods or to just keep up with the latest news about him, check out his website, www.johnnywinter.net. While you’re there, check out his store and bring your music library up to date.