Local and State News      National News and Beyond

Local and State News

Rhonda Liskey's Annual Blues Barn party in Laingsburg with Rare Earth

Rare Earth

Gil bridges

bird burghdoff


Rare Earth was the headliner at this year's Annual Barn Party in Laingsburg. This has been an annual event for the previous 22 or so years reminiscent of an old time blues get together: food, booze, gathering of people, and good blues music.

Rare Earth is an American Rhythm and blues/blues rock band affiliated with Motown's Rare Earth record label (which was named after the band), which prospered in 1970–1972. The group formed in 1960 as The Sunliners and changed its name to Rare Earth in 1968.

Rare Earth had a number of Top 40 hits in the 1970–71 period, including covers of The Temptations' "(I Know) I'm Losing You" and "Get Ready". Both were more successful than The Temptations' originals, with "Get Ready" being their biggest hit, peaking at number four on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Current member: Gil Bridges, (left photo) saxophone, flute, lead vocals; Randy "Bird" Burghdoff, (center) bass, vocals; Floyd Stokes Jr. drums, lead vocals (right photo); Mike Bruner, keyboards; and Ray Monetter, lead guitar, vocals

automatic blues band
Special Guest Band: Automatic Blues Band: Michael Somers, Guitar/vocals. Gary "Blind Dog" Day, Harmonica/vocals. Eric Hamilton, Bass/vocals. and Johnny Barrera, drums.
National News and Beyond
Johnny Winters Passes at Age 70

John Dawson Winter III (February 23, 1944 – July 16, 2014), known as Johnny Winter, was an American blues guitarist, singer, and producer. Winter was well known for his high-energy blues-rock albums and live performances in the late 1960s and '70s, Winter also produced three Grammy Award-winning albums for blues legend Muddy Waters. After producing with Waters, Winter recorded several Grammy-nominated blues albums. In 1988, he was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame and in 2003, he was ranked 63rd in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".

Johnny Winter, along with his musician brother Edgar Winter (born 1946), were nurtured at an early age by their parents in musical pursuits. When he was ten years old, Winter appeared on a local children's show, playing ukulele and singing Everly Brothers songs with his brother.

His recording career began at the age fifteen, when his band Johnny and the Jammers released "School Day Blues.”   During this same period, he was able to see performances by classic blues artists such as Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and Bobby Bland. In 1968, he released his first album The Progressive Blues Experiment, on Austin's Sonobeat Records.

Winter caught his biggest break in December 1968, when Mike Bloomfield, whom he met and jammed with in Chicago, invited him to sing and play a song during a Bloomfield and Al Kooper concert at the Fillmore East in New York. As it happened, representatives of Columbia Records were at the concert. Winter played and sang B.B. King's "It's My Own Fault" to loud applause.  Within a few days, he was signed to reportedly what was then the largest advance in the history of the recording industry—$600,000.

Winter's first Columbia album, Johnny Winter, was recorded and released in 1969. It featured the same backing musicians with whom he had recorded The Progressive Blues Experiment, bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Uncle John Turner, Edgar Winter on keyboards and saxophone,  blues legends Willie Dixon on upright bass and Big Walter Horton on harmonica.

The same year, the Winter trio toured and performed at several rock festivals, including Woodstock. With brother Edgar added as a full member of the group, Winter also recorded his second album, Second Winter, in Nashville in 1969.

Beginning in 1969, the first of numerous Johnny Winter albums was released which were cobbled together from approximately fifteen singles (about 30 "sides") he recorded before signing with Columbia in 1969. Many were produced by Roy Ames, owner of Home Cooking Records/Clarity Music Publishing, who had briefly managed Winter.. Ames died on August 14, 2003 of natural causes at age 66. As Ames left no obvious heirs, the ownership rights of the Ames master recordings remains unclear.

In 1970, Johnny Winter then formed a new band with the remnants of The McCoys—guitarist Rick Derringer, bassist Randy Jo Hobbs, and drummer Randy Z (who was Derringer's brother). Originally to be called "Johnny Winter and The McCoys", the name was shortened to "Johnny Winter And", which was also the name of their first album. The album included Derringer's "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo" and signaled a more rock-oriented direction for Winter.

Winter's momentum was throttled when he sank into heroin addiction during the Johnny Winter And days. He sought treatment and recovered from the addiction By 1973, he returned to the music scene with the release of Still Alive and Well. The follow-up album, John Dawson Winter III featured "Sweet Papa John," a highly dubbed slow blues number written by Johnny. Saints  & Sinners, continued the same direction; this was followed by Captured Live!  

In live performances, Winter often told the story about as a child, he dreamed of playing with the blues guitarist Muddy Waters. In 1977, after Waters' long-time label Chess Records went out of business, he got his chance.  Winter brought Waters into the studio to record Hard Again for Blue Sky Records In addition to producing the album, Winter played guitar with Waters veteran James Cotton on harmonica. Winter produced two more studio albums for Waters, I'm Ready (with Big Walter Horton on harmonica) and King Bee and a best-selling live album Muddy "Mississippi" Waters – Live. The partnership produced three Grammy Awards for Waters and an additional Grammy for Winter's own Nothin' But the Blues. The albums gave Waters the highest profile and greatest financial successes of his life.

After his time with Blue Sky Records, Winter began recording for several labels, including Alligator, Point Blank, and Virgin, focusing on blues-oriented material. In 2004, he received a Grammy Award nomination for his I’m a Blues man album. Beginning in 2007, a series of live Winter albums titled the Live Bootleg Series and a live DVD all entered the Top 10 Billboard Blues chart. In 2009, The Woodstock Experience album was released, which includes eight songs that Winter performed at the 1969 festival.

Winter produced three Grammy Award-winning albums by Muddy Waters, Hard Again (1977), I'm Ready (1978), and Muddy "Mississippi" Waters – Live (1979). Several Winter albums were also nominated for Grammy Awards. In 1988, he was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame.

Winter remained active until shortly before his death in Zurich, Switzerland, on 16 July 2014. He died in his hotel two days after his last performance, at the Cahors Blues Festival in France on July 14.