By MIKE CHAIKEN
Ten years have passed since Edgar Winter’s last album, “Rebel Road.”
About four years have passed since his brother, legendary guitarist Johnny Winter, died at 70.
Edgar is thinking it’s time to record another album. And he is thinking the time is right to pay homage to his brother.
Edgar Winter comes to Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun on March 8 as an opener for Alice Cooper.
Edgar said the tribute album to his brother is nearing the point of being recorded.
“We’re talking to some guitar players,” said Edgar. Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Joe Walsh of the Eagles, Kenny Wayne Sheppard, and Joe Bonamassa are interested in participating in Edgar’s musical tribute to his brother.
“It’s something that would mean a lot to me,” said Edgar.
Johnny Winter was a blues guitarist extraordinaire who set the ears of music enthusiasts on fire with 1969’s self-titled debut and its follow-up in that same year, “Second Winter.” He died in 2014.
The two brothers were quite different growing up, said Edgar. He was the weird kid who played a lot of instruments. Johnny was the cool guy who wanted to be star.
However, if Johnny had not invited Edgar to play on his albums, Edgar’s life might have been quite different. Instead of a rock and roll recording artists, he said he likely would have been off playing jazz somewhere or had pursued a career as a recording engineer.
Prior to Johnny’s death, Edgar said the two brothers were supposed to tour together. When Johnny passed away, it was so sudden. Edgar said he thought about cancelling his plans to hit the road figuring the tour by himself would be “really sad.”
But he went forth. He decided he would play some of Johnny’s material in concert. And, he said, the opportunity to play his brother’s music gave him great solace following Johnny’s passing.
Edgar’s brother is still part of his live show, he said. His group often plays Johnny Winter’s big hits such as “Rock ‘N’ Roll Hoochie Koo” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”
Edgar has been spending a lot of time with Alice Cooper on the road. He spent the summer with Deep Purple and Alice Cooper on tour. He spent the Christmas holidays with Alice at Alice’s annual Christmas Pudding concert (along with Slash, Rob Halford, and Ace Frehley. “That was a lot of fun,” said Edgar). And the current tour finds him teaming up one-on-one with Alice.
Both artists are contemporaries, having risen up through the rock and roll ranks in the 1970s.
Edgar said the two artists also toured together in the 1970s—first when Edgar was leading Edgar Winter’s White Trash and then when he helmed the Edgar Winter Group.
“It’s really fun to get back together after all these years,” said Edgar, who had not been out on the road with Alice since those days.
Alice’s crowd tends to be a raucous group, which is excited by the theatricality of the Grand Guignol of rock and roll.
And Edgar loves it.
“It’s fantastic,” said Edgar of Alice’s fans. “That’s what I love about the tour. It’s a different audience than what I normally would have.”
Although Edgar is performing for a different kind of audience with Alice, he said the set list hasn’t changed too much from what he normally performs, except it’s a little shorter (about an hour). Fans also can expect Edgar to play his biggest hits, “Free Ride, “ “Frankenstein,” and “Tobacco Road.”
Besides the hits, Edgar pulls from the many different genres—pop, blues, space rock, heavy, jazz, etc. And his band can handle each and every turn, he said.
“My band is very musical,” said Edgar of guitarist Doug Rappaport, bassist Koko Powell, and drummer Jason Carpenter.
Doug has been with Edgar longer than any other guitarist (“he’s developed into a phenomenal guitarist”). Koko has played with the Spencer Davis Group (“He’s a great rock player, a great funk player”). And Jason has done studio work and television work (“Jason is a real gospel, soul drummer”).
“There’s a lot of interplay (between musicians onstage). It’s very spontaneous. It’s a lot of jamming.”
As Edgar gets ready to hit the road with Alice, Edgar said, “I want to thank the fans for all the years they followed me and Johnny. It’s meant the world to me.”
Edgar Winter opens for Alice Cooper on Thursday, March 8 at 8 p.m. at the Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville. For more information, go to www.mohegansun.com or www.EdgarWinter.com