Johnny Winter makes rare in-store appearance in Houston

Johnny Winter, second from right, and members of his band at Cactus Music in Houston. (Photo courtesy Cactus Music)

Even though we’re a few months out from Record Store Day (April 21) we thought we’d give a little love to Cactus Music, Houston’s biggest independent music store. Not only is it one of the country’s last few real record stores – yes, they also sell vinyl – but Cactus goes out of its way to book some really cool people to show up and play live music.

In the past year at Cactus Music I have seen such great acts such as Los Lonely Boys, Girl In A Coma, Peter Case, Robert Earl Keen and the great Steve Earle, performing from just a few feet away and in person – all for free. They hand out free beer at all of these (ice-cold Saint Arnold, from the local brewery) and in many cases the artist hangs out and signs autographs.

Last week Cactus hosted a true Texas legend: blues guitarist Johnny Winter, who did a rare autograph signing session to support his latest album Roots. People started lining up about a half hour early and by the time Winter and his band showed up a line snaked through the store, full of people carrying old LPs and guitars for the man to sign.

I didn’t get anything signed but I was impressed by the number of fans who turned out for the chance to meet this legendary musician. The most recent Cactus Music newsletter reported that an estimated 1,000 people attended the two-hour meet and greet.

Winter is of course the Beaumont, Texas, native who made his name in the late 1960s with a blazing guitar and an authentic blues style. He played at Woodstock with a band that included his brother Edgar, drummer Uncle John Turner and bass player Tommy Shannon (later of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Double Trouble). Winter also helped resurrect the career of blues great Muddy Waters in the late 1970s, most notably with the Grammy Award-winning Hard Again album.

Roots is a collection of classic blues numbers that helped shape Johnny’s love of the blues. The CD features such notable guests as Vince Gill, Warren Haynes, John Popper, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi and others. At age 67, Winter shows the miles and physical toll the years have taken on him (he was once a heroin addict) but his guitar playing is still pretty sharp. Check out this appearance on “Late Night With David Letterman” from January:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Anyway, thanks Cactus Music. Check out the store’s official website for upcoming in-store performances (Dr. Dog next month!).

Johnny Winter official website

6 Responses to “Johnny Winter makes rare in-store appearance in Houston”

  1. Johnny Winter will be @ArtsCenterLive in Carrboro, NC in June! We’re SO excited to have such a legend performing for fans from Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and all of North Carolina!

  2. It would be cool if Johnny did a meet and greet in South Florida.

  3. He played Regina Saskatchewan Canada March 2011, awesome.
    It was the 3rd time I’ve seen him (1974,1990, 2011)….each decade the show and band were different but Johnny is always the same singer and guitar player. I bought “Roots”….good album !

  4. Mr. Johnny Winter, I call you Mr. as I believe you deserve the respect. The last show I seen you perform was in Metropolis, Illinois at Harrah’s Casino. I had 7th row seat’s and Leon Russell followed you. GREAT!!!! I say fantastic show on your part. It’s true people improve with age. I only wish I could have bought one of your shirt’s in the Lobby, being on disability I could not afford one. My friend had given me the ticket’s for your show and they were 7th row seat’s!! One tune you played I and my friend were just mesmerized, tranced out, I play guitar you sir it is an extension of yourself. It seemed as if it was like me washing my hand’s the way you played those blue’s. The 3rd time I have seen you live and was for the 3rd time very impressed. I could go on and on. Thankyou Johnny for the 5 extra tune’s for your encore. Leon, well Sir we walked out on him, he seemed to be upset, he was toooo LOUD and it hurt the ear’s an I could feel a pounding in my chest from the whole half of the tune he was doing, I just couldn’t stand it and I came to see You Play and Play you did, pure professionalism!! Thank’s again, Larry Watson : One of many fan’s…

  5. One more time I was blown away from your performance, thankyou Johnny, only wish I could have boughta T-shirt.. Seen you at Harrah’s , Metropolis , Illinois in 2007… 7th row seat’s that were a gift. Thank’s Johnny…. You stole the show from Leon Russell and you opened!!! Great.


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