This past week we lost a Blues legend; Johnny Winter he was 70 years old. I had the opportunity to see him twice in a years time and both times he was amazing. His body unfortunately was beginning to give out and his eyesight had completely failed, but his guitar playing was something to behold.
Born John Dawson Winter III on February 23, 1944 in Beaumont Texas and born with Albinism along with his brother Edgar Winter the duo began their music careers early. By the age of 10 Johnny appeared on a local children’s show and played and sang with his brother Edgar. His first record was recorded at age 15. Winter also played with the great Muddy Waters, BB King and Bobby Bland. (Resource: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Winter)
I saw him first up in Clearwater where I had all access and was able to board his bus and garner an autograph, he seemed so frail after witnessing his greatness on stage. The second opportunity came in November 2013 as I was asked to photograph the South West Florida Blues Society, Blues Festival for radio station 94.5 The Arrow. It was incredible to see his fingers fly across the strings of his guitar up close and personal, snow white hair long and flowing as was his custom. I feel he left us too soon and I’m sure there was more music waiting to embark from those fingers. I feel blessed that I was able to witness such greatness in the blues world.
I received the invitation to hear a local band with the lead singer Marty Stokes. I arrived at Cadillac Jacks and took my usual seat next to the pillar at a small round table of to the front side of the band. My waitress Ashley was attentive as usual, even with the noticeably larger crowd in the establishment. The band was a bit late in getting started (no fault of theirs as there was another event prior to their arrival). I placed my order and prepared to enjoy my evening. This band was well worth the wait.
Marty Stokes was on lead guitar and the only vocalist, his smooth authentic sound was a pleasure to listen to and his guitar was smoking hot.
Bassist Michael Dock was hitting the bass with true blues precision.
Jennifer Mazziotti on keys and sax (more about her in a moment)
Scott Williams was slick on the percussion.
Their combination of covers and originals was entertaining and wonderful to listen to. The authenticity of their originals made them seem extremely timeless. They played one of my all time favorites Match Box and I personally enjoyed their version. One of the originals really stood out to me; not because of the name or the tune, but because of the sax. Jennifer is incredible, she’s not showy or a “look at me” player, but let me tell you, once she starts whaling on that sax you sit up and take notice! She is incredible. The song which stood out was their original Take a Little Time. Jennifer definitely made her presence known on this killer number.
If you ever get the chance to take in this Blues Band, please do you will not be disappointed.
Oh and try the potato skins at Cadillac Jacks, I think they were the best I have even eaten. I was tempted to order a second batch to bring home!
Last night I was given the privilege to attend a Gregg Allman concert. This was my first time hearing him live and what a treat to the ears it was.
First let me tell you about Sailor Circus Sarasota the venue in which the event was held. It was a smaller venue, with stadium seating and floor seating. Quaint and cozy; the seats were extremely close together and not a lot of leg room. Not sure this could’ve been avoided, but it was still a great venue simply because I don’t feel there was a bad seat in the house. We were fortunate enough to be in the stadium seating fifth row up and pretty close to the stage. No complaints about that.
Unfortunately I was not granted a photo pass for this event, (I will apologize ahead of time for the bad cell phone photos) I know it’s a gamble on getting passes for out of town events, however we were close enough my iPhone was able to at least capture the feel of the stage. Not great photos, but at least something to post with.
Now, let’s cut to the chase and get into the meat of the program. There were two opening acts, and I felt it strange at first that Gregg’s son Devon Allman Band was the first act to open, in my mind I thought he was going to be prior to his dad. He took the stage and it was like seeing his father (with shorter hair) up there, his sound was very much influenced by his dad, of that you can be certain. His tour is called the Turquois Tour and is based on his newest first ever solo album of the same name with a bluesy rock feel to it. His songs were fresh and had hitting. The song When I Left Home, was a biographical song of his life as the son of a rock star and his start in the music business. His song Turn Off the World also was a ballad of needing to get away from life and the stresses of the road. Overall Devon put on a great show and this listener will be purchasing his newest CD Turquois.
Next up was a local band (out of the Pinellas County area) called The Greg Billings Band at first I couldn’t figure out why a local band was the opening act to Gregg Allman, but one minute into this bands set and you knew exactly why! High energy, fun to watch, and a dream to the ears. Their first song Built for Love was hard hitting and full of great guitar. The vocalist was on the money and never stood still (good thing I didn’t have to photograph him). They too had released a new album and last night was the first time it had been offered, I may have to look them up on iTunes as well for the downloadable version. They covered a song by Sister Roseta Tharpe Ain’t No Grave and received a standing ovation for this one. Phenomenal sound, phenomenal energy and a great opening act for Gregg.
Now let’s get to our headliner the one and only Gregg Allman and I must say (this is for the ladies) he is still as good looking as ever! He took the stage behind that Hammond Organ and the sound was incredible. His line-up of musicians were as follows Scott Sharrard-guitar, Ben Stivers- Keyboard, Steve Potts-drums, Jay Collins-horns, and Ron Johnson-bass. Unfortunately I didn’t catch the name of his percussionist and he brought his son back on stage with guitar on a couple of numbers.
Gregg performed a few numbers from several of his albums like his latest release like Floating Bridge from Low Country Blues, Whipping Post from Searching for Simplicity. And of course he performed the Allman Brother’s classic Sweet Melissa. His rocking style has not faded, however he has delved more into a Jazzy Blues feels with allowing his band mates to perform a jazz number during his intermission. Overall the show was excellent and I have Sailor Circus Sarasota to thank and Matt Mangas at 94.5 “The Arrow” for the awesome tickets; a couple of my friends who were able to attend because of his generosity.
We are about to embark on the beginning of concert season here in South West Florida. This is my favorite time of year as my partner and I are constantly checking all the venues within a 250 mile radius of our home. We have been privileged to photograph such greats as Willie Nelson, STYX, REO, Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryant, Heart and Jason Bonham, Ted Nugent, Kid Rock, Dierks Bently, Darius Rucker and so many more. Our upcoming season promises to be just as exciting as we live the life of concert photographers. Please keep following this journey.
On my Facebook page www.facebook.com/kdphotocreations we held a challenge for those who follow and like our page. The first challenge was to post a photo representing Halloween and a young photographer by the name of Anthony Bonacolta was the lucky winner for the week! Thank you Anthony for posting this wonderful Jack ‘O Lantern photo. Please give some props to this young man.
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