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Johnny Winter wonderland


Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad dotted the skyline atop the new Lounge 11 rooftop deck last Wednesday (just like they'll do every Wednesday this summer). The band revolves around deep, deep reggae grooves with really cool (think "Radio Clash") digital and analog undertones. 'Tis a pleasant jam to bring out the skirt twirlers, interpretive dancers with odd twists, or those looking for something fresh but not too weird. And speaking of dancers, it seemed just about everyone was boogying. I even found myself shifting up and down a little on my two left feet.

On his first-ever acoustic tour, Pete Yorn played a short set at The Record Archive. Focusing on material from his upcoming Nightcrawler album, Yorn played beautifully with a righteous rock 'n' roll hand. This performance was recorded. Listen close during his hit "Strange Condition" and you'll hear me sneeze. Yeah, I know, but it wasn't as bad as the text-messaging knucklehead in the crowd who didn't think to turn the sound off or pay attention to the goddamn performance.

Miss Margaret Storms warmed Yorn's stage with a brief set of astounding lyrical depth. Storms tempers her keen observations with splashes of piss and vinegar. It seems in her world nothing goes unnoticed, and the more this young lady stretches her songwriting legs, nothing is safe.

Thursday night HighFalls was a Johnny Winter wonderland. To the roar of about 4,000 people, Winter slowly ambled onto the stage sporting two new hips. Seated and cradling his trademark stick guitar, Winter --- with only bass and drums beneath him --- blazed, his eyes never opening. He seemed a little tired, but sounded so good.

And at 62, the blues still move him. While stomping through Muddy's "Hootchie Cootchie Man" with his drummer singing the lead, Winter apparently couldn't help himself and slowly fell into singing as well. By the last line it was all Johnny: "I got $700 baby, don't you mess with me." Bedlam ensued when Winter returned on stage to encore on his old Firebird. That big old plank got a bigger ovation than he did and positively screamed as Winter slid it through the paces on "Highway 61 Revisited."