For any of you Johnny Winter fans I would like to report that hearing Johnny and the band at the House Of Blues/Chicago last Friday (5/26/06) was a great time. I have been a long time fan of him and have recently read stories of his ill health and some fans reporting that he just "doesn't have it" anymore. Yes, he isn't that young man from Texas that was courted by Columbia Records back in 1969....Johnny is now 62 years old. Reports of him having to be helped onto the stage and being nearly blind have been grossly exaggerated. It was heart warming to see a roadie assist a slightly hunched over Johnny as he negotiated scattered audio cables and equipment to take his place upon a comfy looking old chair at center stage where he resided for the entire show. Reports of Johnny being nearly blind may stem from the fact that albinos have a heightened sensitivity to light. I noticed that through-out the 75 minute performance he rarely opened his eyes to the stage lights. Looking at his watch near the end told me he is not blind as previous reports have stated. The one thing I missed upon hearing Johnny's latest Grammy nominated album was his howling style vocal attack. His vocals on the album actually sounded weak and strained. This was not the case during the House Of Blues performance however. He sounded much stronger and was able to summon up some very enthusiastic vocals much to the delight of the audience. The set contained approximately 12-14 songs and was tight and polished. Taking time to drink water between a few songs, there was other tunes that led into the next with precision. Although guitarist Paul Nelson opened up with the first song, he bowed out and never returned once Johnny took the stage. Also missing was James Montgomery's harmonica playing that was present on many of the cuts from the latest cd "I'm A Bluesman". As a former bass player myself, I was captivated by Scott Spray's playing......he was in command of his instrument, much more likened to a virtuoso than merely a bass player. Rounding out the 3 man band was Wayne June on drums.....simply awesome! These two guys were simply not just "backing up" a legend--the three of them were totally enthusiastic to be playing the blues together and the crowd knew it. Using a Erlewine Lazer guitar for the majority of the performance, I thought his playing was clean and heartfelt.....this isn't a guy just touring to make a few bucks. It is obvious that Johnny continues to perform to audiences all over the country because he just loves to play. Switching to a Gibson Firebird, Johnny finished out the show with some slide guitar work, using it to play the encore "Highway 61" to a roaring crowd....a great performance by one of the best blues guitarists ever.
I concur"I'm a Bluesman" is a great Cd and have mentioned it on here before. I will keep my eyes peeled for when he hits shakey town cause I will go and see him. It's been a while since I saw him 1970 in San Berdo with Shuggie Otis and Humble Pie. At this time in his life the monkey on his back had him relagated to second chair to Rick Derringer. Great show tho.
Saw johnny at the Turning Point with James Montgomery several months ago- he blew the doors off the place.
Nothing more to be said.

Had I been there myself, I could have written a better review.
I would like to add a sidebar story to my Johnny Winter review that you all may find amazing, I know I did. One of the nice things about buying a dinner/show ticket at the House Of Blues is that it guarantees you a seat for the performance in an otherwise standing only type venue. After enjoying a tasty meal I wandered over to the stairs which ultimately lead up to the concert hall. I was definitely early but to my surprise there was one person already waiting ahead of me. I struck up a conversation with this young Japanese man whose name was Taka. He asked-"First time seeing Johnny Winter?"....and so it went making small talk about Johnny. It was obvious to me that thru his broken English he was a huge fan of Johnny Winter. I really wasn't expecting his answer when I asked him where he lived "......outside of Tokyo"! My further questions revealed he took a 16 hour flight from Tokyo to Chicago, arriving just hours before the show. Taka, a physical therapist told me he didn't have time to stay the night since he was scheduled to work the following day, so right after the show he had to catch a flight back to Japan! I asked him what his wife thought of his adventure? "Oh, she say I'm crazy!" Well, I have to agree that he is crazy...........but for all the right reasons!
I'm sorry I missed seeing Johnny in Chicago. But here's my .02 worth, and it's not pretty. I saw Johnny at the H.O.B. in Chicago several years ago, and it was pathetic. Here, in front of my eyes was one of my all-time favorite 'Guitar Gods',looking and sounding like a washed-up, has-been; practically being led onto the stage by a leash, having his guitar placed on his lap ! His voice was feeble. Worse yet, his guitar playing was 2nd rate at best. He was missing notes like crazy; couldn't even keep up with the tempo, for Christ's sake!! I was close to tears! It was absolutely pitiful. I vowed never to see him "Live" again. It would be too painful. Reminded me of when I saw B.B. King several months later, at the Holiday Star Plaza, in Merriville In. Just a shell of a man,(albeit a large one!) Perhaps seeing my childhood guitar heroes aging none-too-gracefully and playing past their prime reminded me of my own mortality; facing the fact that I'm getting old, too! If what you guys say is true, I might try to see him one more time. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to see one more raucous performance by a re-vitalized Johnny Winter. God Bless Him !!