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Interview:
Family, friends, make former Hippiefest special for Edgar Winter
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

The Rock 'N' Blues Fest -- formerly known as Hippiefest -- is more than just another summer package tour for Edgar Winter.

This year's gives the "Free Ride" and "Frankenstein" creator a chance to play with his older brother Johnny Winter as well as longtime cohort Rick Derringer, rekindling lifelong musical associations and warm personal memories.

"It's always so emotional for me to play with Johnny," says Winter, 65, a Texas native who led the bands White Trash and the Edgar Winter Group before going solo full-time in 1976, after a joint album, "Together," with Johnny. "He and i started out playing together as kids. When I was four years old we were playing ukulele and singing Everly Brothers songs. Johnny & the Jammers was our first band."

As for Derringer (ne Zehringer) -- who came to fame with the McCoys and its 1965 hit "Hang on Sloopy" -- Winter notes that the guitarist "played with me in my bands and was part of Johnny Winter And. And he wrote 'Rock 'n' Roll Hoochie Coo' specifically for Johnny.

"So there's all of this interconnected history between the three of us, which makes this tour something really exciting."

Winter, meanwhile, is working on a follow-up to his 2008 album "Rebel Road" but is also joining the ranks of rockers working on stage musicals -- in this case an adaptation of the "Frankenstein" story to be called "Frank and Stein," about a plastic surgeon trying to "remove a lot of the morale ambiguity that goes along with war" by creating synthetic soldiers to do the fighting.

"I have the whole story line and all the music" Winter says. "Like anything else it's a question of finances, and also finding someone to help me develop it further. It's an exciting new challenge -- I can certainly say that."

Rock 'N' Blues Fest with the Johnny Winter Band, the Edgar Winter Band, Rick Derringer and Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown takes place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $10-$36.50 pavilion and $10 lawn. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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