Date: 06/01/2008 Print This Post


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The Singer and Multi-Instrumentalist, Who Joined
Ringo Starr And His All-Starr Band On The Road in 2006, Is Set
To Tour Again With the The Ex-Beatle This Summer

Still jamming as hard and heavy as ever over 35 years since his smashes “Frankenstein” and “Free Ride” captured an era in pop history and redefined the possibilities of fusing blues with rock, Edgar Winter ( continues to defy musical trends by traveling along the Rebel Road.

A fresh, dynamic extension of the multi-talented singer, songwriter, keyboardist and saxophonist’s classic musical vibe, the perfectly titled album—yes, he still calls his projects “albums”—brings his four decade career full circle with the help of Slash, country superstar Clint Black (on vocals and harmonica) and Winter’s equally legendary guitarist brother Johnny Winter. Beyond the all-star contributions, the 11-track collection marks a flourishing of the creative relationship between Winter and Curt Cuomo, who has worked extensively with classic rocker Eddie Money over the past ten years and whose credits include “Pyscho Circus” among numerous songs with Kiss. Cuomo, who first worked with Winter as co-writer of “You Are My Song” on 1999’s Winter Blues, co-produced Rebel Road with Winter and is a co-writer on nine songs; he also contributes percussion, vocals and organ work.

The first stops along Winter’s infinitely winding, heavy grooving Rebel Road this year include dates this summer with Winter’s longtime hero Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, This is Winter’s second go-round with the former Beatle’s summer tour extravaganza; he counts his first tour in 2006, “the thrill of a lifetime and a dream come true.” The 28-date 2008 Ringo tour kicks off June 19-20 in Niagara Falls, Ontario and wraps August 2 at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. Later in August, Winter has dates booked with Johnny at the House of Blues in Dallas (they’re natives of Beaumont, Texas) and another with fellow bluesman Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

While the high-energy, Slash-sparked title track best captures the spirit of Rebel Road and is the probable first single, Winter is hoping that Ringo lets him complement his latest renditions of “Free Ride” and “Frankenstein” with performances of the album’s more heartfelt cuts, the very Beatlesque mid tempo ballad “Peace And Love” (dedicated, of course, to the spirit and legacy of The Fab Four) and the romantic acoustic ballad “The Closer I Get,” which Winter wrote for Monique, his beloved wife of 29 years. On the 2006 tour, he sang “Dying To Live,” an early classic he wrote after he performed at Woodstock. Winter complements these gentler hopeful expressions with the country rock blues vibe of “The Power of Positive Drinkin’” (featuring Black on harmonica) and blistering blues-rock jams like “Eye On You,” “Do It Again” and “Rockin’ The Blues” with Johnny.

“The idea was to make a classic American rock album similar to the kind I used to back in the 70s,” he says. “I believe music is about following your heart as opposed to trends and second guessing what you think the public wants to hear. I wanted to put out an album that felt real to me, regardless of what’s going on in today’s music world. I think artists who play music that comes from the heart and that they believe in will communicate with people. What’s missing in music today is not only real rock and roll, but the Southern style rock that Johnny and I grew up playing in Texas. Country music has come in to fill the vacuum of honesty and sincerity, and I wanted to contribute to this kind of musical integrity in my own way.

“The kind of music I’m playing on Rebel Road has meant so much to me over the years,” he adds, “and it was great working with so many talented musicians on bringing it to life. I think it will resonate with fans familiar with my early music and younger lovers of classic rock. There’s something magical about the time this sound came from, when there was more musical freedom and songs reflected such powerful social changes as civil rights and the peace movement during the Vietnam era. There’s a deep sense of humanity in classic rock that still resonates today.”

Ironically, “Rockin’ The Blues” was the original working title of the project, which was fashioned as the third part of a rock-blues trilogy that began with Winter Blues and continued on Winter’s 2004 date Jazzin’ The Blues, which featured a mix of originals and jazzy arrangements of his classic hits. Then, the singer thought about the popularity he has among the biker community—he’s legendary for his performances at biker shows like the Buffalo Chip Sturgis Rally, on the Easy Rider tour and Jay Leno’s Love Ride, one of the biggest biker related charity events in the world. He thought it might be cool to include some new songs with that kind of vibe. Talking with his longtime manager Jake Hooker (a former rocker who co-penned “I Love Rock and Roll”), Winter thought of “road rebel,” and Hooker suggested he flip those words. The concept of Rebel Road was born and the title track, Winter says, just about wrote itself.

“I relate this little story because people seem to be so interested in how songs come about, and it illustrates how the simple turn of phrase in a seemingly idle conversation can really get something rolling,” he adds. “As for the concept behind the title, I think bikers and musicians have a good deal in common: a certain defiance and disregard for authority, the status quo, and the powers that be. To me, the idea of the open road is a symbol of freedom, and freedom is what music is all about. It’s saying I’m not going to be told who I am, and what I’m supposed to believe. It’s about living life on your own terms, and that’s what rebel road means to me. I like it because it’s not only a biker song, it’s my song and my story as well.”

Fully embracing the liberating joys of independent music making, Winter is also proud of the way he explores his roots in country music. Though he could strum chords and sing country songs from the time he started playing music, it’s an influence that he’s never tapped into on his recordings till Rebel Road. He wrote a set of lyrics for what he thought would become a blues song entitled “On The Horns of A Dilemma,” and Cuomo and guitarist/frequent co-writer James Zota Baker immediately felt it was a country rocker in the making. They laughed when Winter came up with the title of “The Power of Positive Drinkin’,” but felt that one had Nashville style potential as well.

While shying away from the idea of doing a full-on country album, Winter knew he wanted some country-blues style harp to enhance these two tracks. He had played sax on Black’s song “Burn One Down” and immediately asked the famed singer to contribute his instrumental talents to Rebel Road. “He said yes and it was another one of those magical musical moments you dream about,” says Winter. “Clint literally blew us all away. It means so much that he would take the time and come in and play on these songs between shows out of friendship and human kindness.”

From this point, a revved up Winter can see that Rebel Road stretching out for miles and many more exciting live shows to come, with Ringo, Johnny, Kenny and anyone else who cares to take another “Free Ride.” “I love making music because it’s the way in which I can express everything I’ve been through in my life, and is also a great emotional and physical release” he says. “Even after all these years, nothing tops the exhilaration of performing for a live audience. It’s always very inspiring for me, and I am never going to quit because I need to be out there playing. So you’ll never hear me saying anything about a farewell tour. I’m in this for life.”