I am a mad Johnny Winter fan — and I mean “mad” as in “wildly crazy” for the guy — he’s one of the best guitarists of our lifetime and above all his suffering and addiction he has let his music continue to speak for him and to foster our national tempering.  Johnny’s latest musical masterpiece — Roots — dropped today and it is a fantastic collaboration of bright minds.

Johnny Winter has been playing the roots of  Blues guitar for over 42 years. Johnny is best known for his live recordings — Roots is only his second studio album in the last decade and a half — and we appreciate the better sound quality and the fruitful musical collaborations in this special tribute to the Blues.

Sonny Landreth, Vince Gill, Warren Haynes, John Popper, Jimmy Vivino, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, John Medeski and Johnny’s brother, Edgar Winter, play on the album, his first studio release since 2004’s “I’m a Blues Man.”

“Every song I loved — they’re all big influences on me,” Winter tells Billboard.com, speaking from Paris where he is on a short European tour. “It’s way past time for me (to record an album like this).”

Noted guitarists perform with Winter on more than half the tracks. On Robert Johnson’s “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom,” he is partnered with Trucks, on T-Bone Walker’s “T-Bone Shuffle” with Landreth, on Elmore James “Done Somebody Wrong” with Haynes, and on “Maybellene” with Gill. Tedeschi plays lead guitar and sings on Jimmy Reed’s 1961 hit, “Bright Lights, Big City” and Paul Nelson, who produced the album, joins in on Larry Williams’ “Short Fat Fannie.”

The album is terrific and satisfying on every level, and Johnny will still blister your ears with his fingers. I confess that “Bright Lights, Big City” is one great duet with Susan Tedeschi. She’s aflame with song in both gravelly voice and sparkling guitar.

When we look back on the grand career of Johnny Winter, we are blessed with a feverish  musicality that never lost its heat.  We found a grand and verifiable voice in his magnificent guitar playing.  There was never an in-between moment with Johnny on his strings, it was all pure energy and compartmentalized passion that played out before us and taught us all how to live life without regret and to leave remorse on the front porch.  To hear Johnny Winter play the guitar is to feel the pulsing heartbeat of a still thriving American Blues tradition.

8 Comments

  1. I, like you am a MAD Johnny Winters fan. I have loved and followed him since I was a young kid back in the 60’s. I have seen him several times and was privileged to stand but 6-8 feet away from him for a whole show at a very small venue in East Durham, UpState NY just a few years ago. I love this man, not just his music. What a classy, shy, NOT FULL OF HIMSELF, gentle soul he seems to be. Just talking about him re-surging and awakening from when his gentle nature was taken advantage of by a lousy producer bring tears to my eyes. I love this man and I love Paul Nelson for doing for Johnny, what Johnny did for Muddy.

  2. Great Johnny LP to add to all the others. Saw Johnny in Ottawa, Canada (for the 7th time) back in 2011…small venue..up close and personal. WOW is allI can say.
    This LP is well produced, engineered, and sounds superb on vinyl. It’s my new reference LP.
    Hope there is more to come Johnny…

  3. Johnny is definitely back full force with this album! Just got it and it blew me away with his musicality, his chops and the his reverance to the blues on every note played!!! More like this please!

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