This year’s Hippiefest will present five well-known players who were initially inspired to pick up their instruments due to their fondness for both rock and blues. Taking the stage will be Johnny Winter, Edgar Winter, Rick Derringer, Leslie West and Kim Simmonds. Audiences will have an opportunity to hear five great musicians all in one incredible evening featuring icons of rock and blues music.
If is that lineup wasn’t enough to sell the show, Ruth Eckerd Hall will again feature a Hippiefest marketplace offering strings of love beads, tie-dyed apparel and other evocative reminders of Woodstock, San Francisco and a generation that engendered a whole new outlook to life. The marketplace opens at 5 p.m.
Blues rock movement
Blues rock emerged in the mid 1960s, appearing simultaneously in the United States and Britain. Bands such as The Rolling Stones, Led Zepplin, Cream, Blind Faith, Blue Cheer and Canned Heat sought inspiration from older American bluesmen Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and Albert King.
From the beginning, the new musical genre was distinguished by bluesy improvisation with extended jams on the electric guitar, often featuring a riff-oriented hook and amplified sound. Traditional twelve-bar blues was played at a faster tempo accompanied by distortion and power chords. Pioneers of the genre included early incarnations of Fleetwood Mac and Jethro Tull as well as Savoy Brown, Free and bands led by John Mayall.
And then, along came Johnny Winter.
"I think the blues will always be around," said Johnny in a press release promoting the show at Ruth Eckerd Hall. “People need it.”
The legendary blues guitarist will perform with the Johnny Winter Band.
According to his bio, at the age of 17, Johnny went to see B.B. King in his home state of Texas. After repeated requests for a turn at the microphone, King eventually gave in and handed his guitar to Johnny, who ended up getting a standing ovation for his performance. In little time, Johnny found he had a growing legion of followers.
Johnny released his first solo album, “The Progressive Blues Experiment,” in 1968. Originally issued on Sonobeat Records label, Imperial Records reissued the album in 1969. Johnny plays as part of a trio on his debut, covering influential blues artists such as B.B. King, Sonny Boy Williamson and Slim Harpo. The album also includes Johnny’s own composition “Tribute to Muddy.”
Since his debut album, Johnny has released more than a dozen studio albums, including “Johnny Winter,” 1969; “Second Winter,” 1969, “Johnny Winter And,” 1970; “Still Alive and Well,” 1973; “Saints & Sinners,” 1974; “John Dawson Winter III,” 1974; “Nothin’ But the Blues,” 1977; “White, Hot and Blue,” 1979; and “Raisin’ Cain,” 1980. His most recent studio effort, “Roots,” was released in 2011 on Sonobeat.
Johnny’s younger brother, Edgar Winter, will join the lineup at Hippiefest.
Edgar is perhaps best known for hits such as “Free Ride” and the chart-topping instrumental rocker “Frankenstein.” In addition to singing, the multi-instrumentalist is an accomplished saxophonist, keyboardist and percussionist.
"As far as I'm concerned, rock and blues are the great American contributions to music," said Edgar in a press release promoting the show. Accompanying him on stage will be the Edgar Winter Band.
Edgar first found himself in the spotlight in 1970 following the release of his debut album, “Entrance.” The album featured a cover of John D. Loudermilk’s “Tobacco Road” which became Edgar’s first hit. For his second album, Edgar formed the group White Trash. “Edgar Winter’s White Trash,” released in 1971, included the single “Keep Playin’ That Rock and Roll.” “Roadwork,” a double live album, followed in 1972 and included a 17-minute version of “Tobacco Road.”
Edgar brought together a new lineup of musicians for his next album. The Edgar Winter Group featured Dan Hartman, Ronnie Monstrose and Chuck Ruff. In 1973, this lineup produced the celebrated ‘They Only Come Out at Night” album which boasted the hits “Frankenstein” and “Free Ride.”
Edgar continued to produce albums through the 1970s, releasing “Shock Treatment,” 1974; “Jasmine Nightdreams,” 1975; “The Edgar Winter Group with Rick Derringer,” 1975; “Together,” 1976; “Recycled,” 1977; and “The Edgar Winter Album,” 1979. Edgar’s most recent studio work, “Rebel Road,” was released in 2008 on Airline Records.
Even before maturing into the guitar legend he has become, Rick Derringer had achieved musical chart success. At age 17, along with his band The McCoys, Derringer recorded the No. 1 hit “Hang on Sloopy” in 1965. The song proved popular enough to displace The Beatles “Yesterday” out of the top spot.
Four years later, Derringer and his band mates would collaborate with Johnny Winter on “Jonny Winter And.” In fact, Derringer’s musical history is intertwined with the Winter brothers: Derringer produced and played on “Johnny Winter And,” “Edgar Winter’s White Trash,” “Roadwork.”
In 1973, Derringer released his first solo album, “All American Boy” which featured the seminal hit “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo.”
Other albums in Derringer’s prolific career include:
• “Spring Fever,” 1975
• “Guitars and Women,” 1979
• “Face To Face,” 1980
• “Good Dirty Fun,” 1983
• “Back to the Blues,” 1993
• “Electra Blues,” 1994
In 2007, Derringer released “Rockin’ American” and, in 2009, “Knighted by the Blues.”
Born in 1945, Leslie West began his musical career in a garage band called The Vagrants. The Vagrants scored a couple of minor hits in the mid 1960s, including “I Can’t Make a Friend” and a cover of Otis Redding’s “Respect.”
Through his work with The Vagrants, West became acquainted with Felix Pappalardi. In 1969, the two founded the hard rock group Mountain. In the same year, West released his debut solo album titled “Mountain.”
The group Mountain featured West as vocalist and guitarist; Pappalardi as bassist and vocalist, Steve Knight as keyboardist and N.D. Smart as drummer. Best known for the song “Mississippi Queen,” Mountain released a number of albums through the 1970s including “Climbing!,” 1970; “Nantucket Sleighride,” 1971; “Flowers of Evil,” 1971; and “Avalanche,” 1974. West also has released more than a dozen albums, including “The Great Fatsby,” 1975; “The Leslie West Band,” 1976; “Theme,” 1988; and “Alligator,” 1989. In 2011, West released “Unusual Suspects.”
Welsh guitarist Kim Simmonds is revered as one of the principal architects of British blues.
Simmonds began performing professionally in London in the mid-’60's after learning how to play guitar by listening to his brother's blues records as a teenager. Best known as leader and founder of Savoy Brown, Simmonds continues to tour all over the world with the band as well as a solo acoustic act.
According to his website, Simmonds embarked upon an acoustic solo career in 1997 with the release of the CD “Solitaire.” An album of traditional blues, “Solitaire” was “the starting point of his rediscovery of his love of the acoustic guitar,” according to his artist biography.
Simmond’s most recent release, "Out Of The Blue," is a collection of varied material that places him in a new setting, that of the singer/songwriter.
“This is my first time performing in Hippiefest and it was an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Simmonds said in a press release from the Albright Entertainment Group. “I’m a big fan of all the other musicians participating, having played gigs with most of them in the 1960s. It’s a great feeling of continuity, knowing we’re all still around playing better than ever.”
Derringer echoed Simmonds’ sentiments.
“This Hippiefest roster promises a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see some of the best, legendary artists of our lifetime,” Derringer said. “I can’t wait to be a part of it.”