WANT TO GO?
With Johnny Winter, Ruthie Foster, and more
WHERE: WVU Creative Arts Center, Morgantown
WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday
TICKETS: Advance $15, at the door $20.
INFO: 304-293-SHOW or www.mountainstage.orgCHARLESTON, W.Va. --Johnny Winter doesn't remember the last time he was in West Virginia, but he acknowledged, "It's been a while." Still, the rock and blues guitarist said it's nice to come back and nicer still to get to bring his guitar to play a few songs on "Mountain Stage" in Morgantown this Sunday.
"I'm pretty sure this is my first time on the show," he said.
Pretty sure. With a career as long as Winter's, it's possible he could have slipped in at some point and forgotten, though he thinks that's unlikely. The 67-year-old takes a small measure of pride in his memory.
"I can remember almost every song I've ever heard," he said.
He can also play a fair number of them. A few thousand, Winter thought, and he said he doesn't get them mixed up -- unless he wants to.
"I've got a good memory for words," Winter said. "Sometimes I'll switch the words from one song to another, kind of change it up, but I never forget the words.
"It helps that I stopped drinking and taking drugs."
Though if he hadn't done the drugs, he might not have met his wife, Susan.
"She was a driver for my manager at the time," he explained. "She came and picked me up from rehab."
The two have been together for nearly 40 years. "Married for about 20 of them," he said.
Winter still loves to play but doesn't enjoy the travel as much. When he's off the road, he tries to spend as much time as he can with his wife.
"We hang out with the cat," he said.
Winter's sharp memory comes in handy. Last fall the bluesman released his 18th studio record, "Roots," a collection of old blues tunes that inspired and influenced the venerated guitarist.
His producer, Paul Nelson said, "He picked out the whole album in about 15 minutes. He just named them off and that's what we went with."
Winter added, "It was easy. These were just songs I heard growing up from when I first started playing guitar. Most of them are from the 1950s.
"I just picked a few of my favorites."
There was very little fuss, he said. He didn't even really need to practice them.
"I knew them all very well," he laughed.
Nelson, who also played on the record, said "Roots" was a labor of love for them.
"Johnny has talked about doing a couple of more records like these," he said, which Winter agreed with.
"There were thousands more I could have picked," he said.Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.