Written by Bill Whiting
The Classic Rock ‘N’ Blues Tour 2012 rolled into Kettering, Ohio’s Fraze Pavilion on August 29, and closed out the venue’s summer season with a power packed lineup of greats including Savoy Brown’s Kim Simmonds, Rick Derringer, Edgar Winter and the legendary Johnny Winter. Simmonds was first up, and he quickly got the Fraze’s patrons on their feet with a smoldering blues set. Tearing into the ”Savoy Brown Boogie” from the stellar 1969 album, A Step Further, Simmonds was all smiles and fleet fingered, string bending bravura. His sunny disposition onstage was infectious, while his guitar soloing was tight, precise and brutally devastating. Rick Derringer was up next, and he continued to have everyone dancing in the aisles to his 1965 smash that he recorded when he was seventeen years old, “Hang On Sloopy.” Derringer is a natural showman, and his stories between songs had the crowd energized, and ready to sing along with him. The storied and continuously borrowed, immensely popular number, “Real American,” gave them that chance, and their harmonized voices could be heard outside the facility. Ending his time onstage with the shredding gem, “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo,” from 1973′s underrated LP, All American Boy, Derringer hit piercing high notes of feedback and distortion to finalize a well received performance.
Beaumont, Texas’ Edgar Winter continued to establish the year 1973 as a dominating theme on the tour, selecting radio staples from his double platinum recording, They Only Come Out at Night, to work the audience into a frenzy. One exception was an instrumentally diverse take on “Tobacco Road” from his 1972 live in concert project, Roadwork. Edgar pioneered the strap enhanced synthesizer, and he walked freely about the stage with it during his band’s version of the number one smash, “Frankenstein.” Bringing his rock and roll revue to a close, Edgar Winter chose the unifying composition from They Only Come Out at Night, “Free Ride.” The buzz began to build inside the Fraze as Johnny Winter took the stage. One of Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time,” Winter and his band wisely chose to feature the trend setting musician’s molten leads from his 1971 masterpiece, Live Johnny Winter And. Beginning with Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode,” Winter’s pure tone took over, backed by a double drum rhythm section that shuffled along to the driving wail of the lead singer’s genre busting cover of the early rock classic. As Winter plowed into the Sonny Boy Williamson standard, “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl,” it was evident that the Fraze was under the spell of a great master of improvised instrumentation, the godfather of the modern day blues and jamband movement.
Cascading into a fiercely scorching rave up on The Rolling Stones’ “Jumping Jack Flash,” Winter was assisted by his tour mates Simmonds, Derringer and brother Edgar Winter. It was another bold stroke that reinvented the well known number with a flurry of jams that ended with an overwhelming standing ovation from the Fraze’s “Lawn Lizards.” Johnny Winter treated everyone to a defining take on Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” as he made an indelible impression while finishing the Fraze Pavilion’s star studded 2012 outdoor concert season. The Classic Rock ‘N’ Blues Tour 2012 was one of the best travelling rock festivals of the summer, and the combined talents of Kim Simmonds and Rick Derringer, along with Edgar and Johnny Winter made it one of the biggest parties of the year.