No matter if credited to The Edgar Winter Group, Edgar Winter’s White Trash or his own name, the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist made a major splash throughout the 1970s with a palatable fusion of rock, blues and blue-eyed soul. From then through today, the man who invented the keytar (that nifty keyboard with a body strap) has maintained a fairly consistent recording pace, frequent membership in Ringo Starr’s rotating All-Starr Band and is currently fronting the slightly re-branded Edgar Winter Band.
Before all that jamming got underway, the tall Texan opened up with the lean and still mean “Keep Playin’ That Rock ‘N’ Roll,” plus a shockingly early inclusion of his biggest smash “Free Ride,” though he soon switched gears towards nothing but the blues, specifically tipping his hat to the Windy City’s enduring scene.
Given that widespread history, coupled with a vow to keep the legacy of his late great brother in the blues Johnny Winter alive, Edgar pulled in a pretty respectable crowd for a Tuesday night at Chicago’s acoustically warm and comfy City Winery. And considering Halloween was just over a week away, it was also the perfect time to hear “Frankenstein” in all its spooky, synth-laden glory as the headliner switched between keys, sax and drums, alongside three players that always stayed right in the pocket.
Before all that jamming got underway, the tall Texan opened up with the lean and still mean “Keep Playin’ That Rock ‘N’ Roll,” plus a shockingly early inclusion of his biggest smash “Free Ride,” though he soon switched gears towards nothing but the blues, specifically tipping his hat to the Windy City’s enduring scene. “Tobacco Road” was a tune he used to play with Johnny and it started out strong, but soon morphed into a scat/riff trade-off between Winter and his backers that was about ten minutes too tedious (in spite of everyone’s instantly apparent chops).
Instead Winter and company were better off blazing through their booze-inspired best, which included “We All Had A Real Good Time” and “The Power Of Positive Drinkin,’” while “Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo” (penned by frequent collaborator Rick Derringer) offered yet another searing salute to his sibling guitar slinger. The audience may have been medium-sized, but were so pumped they coaxed the group back a second time for The Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (another staple of Johnny’s set lists) to boldly top off the 95 minute boogie-woogie bash.
Upcoming concert highlights at City Winery include Shawn Mullins (Oct. 21); Janeane Garofalo (Oct. 23); Al Di Meola (Oct. 26); Tank (Oct. 30); “Icons of Funk” featuring Leo Nocentelli of the Meters and Bernie Worrell of P-Funk (Oct. 31); The Tubes featuring Fee Waybill (Nov. 1); Funkadesi (Nov. 2); John Sebastian (Nov. 4); Tom Paxton (Nov. 5); The Polyphonic Spree (Nov. 8); Howard Jones (Nov. 9); Vanessa Carlton (Nov. 10); Everclear (Nov. 11) and Paula Cole (Nov. 14). For additional details, visit www.citywinery.com/chicago/.