CLEARWATER — Frankenstein, a monster hit back in its day, is coming to Clearwater courtesy of the mad scientist of rock 'n' roll, Edgar Winter. His band is known for oldie goldies like Free Ride and Tobacco Road.
It's Blast Friday, the family-friendly street party held on the last Friday of each month in the Cleveland Street District. The free concert, produced by Ruth Eckerd Hall on the Road, runs from 5:30 to 10 p.m. tonight and features a variety of vendors, food, beverages, beer and wine.
Joining the famed Edgar Winter Band will be Clearwater's The Ries Brothers (pronounced REES), a pop/rock duo that has opened for a variety of big-name bands, including Chicago during the 2013 Clearwater Jazz Holiday.
Talk about multitasking. Charlie, 18, sings and drums with his right hand while playing keyboard bass with his left. Brother Kevin, 15, sings and plays guitar.
"It gives a much bigger sound than most duos," said Kevin Ries, their father.
Edgar and his brother Johnny were also considered musical prodigies, nurtured at an early age by their musically gifted parents. They grew up in Beaumont, Texas, surrounded by the sounds of classical, Cajun, country and blues.
"My mother tells me I did a local radio show, the Uncle Willie show, when I was 4 years old," said 67-year-old Winter during a phone conversation from his California home. "My brother Johnny and I started out playing the ukulele and singing Everly Brothers songs. I played guitar for a minute, but it became evident Johnny was going to be the guitar player so I decided I'd play everything else."
Electric bass, drums, keyboard, organ, alto sax, trombone, trumpet. The list goes on.
The Winter brothers have albinism, a disorder characterized by lack of melanin in hair, skin and eyes, which ironically may have helped spawn their lengthy musical careers.
Their long snowy blond hair gave them flash and glam on stage. But it also affected their vision and ability to stay out in the sun, so sports never competed for their time and attention.
They started out playing together in their teens but formed their separate identities by the late 1960s, though they do collaborate now and then.
Johnny would become recognized as one of the top guitar players in the United States and Edgar, who used a synthesizer as the lead instrument in the 1973 instrumental jam Frankenstein, is considered a pioneer in electronic rock. The recording topped Billboard charts and sold more than a million copies. He claims to be the first musician to strap a keyboard around his neck and still incorporates the move in his shows, where he also plays sax and percussion.
He's the only member of the original Edgar Winter Group that's still alive, he says, and plans to be around for a lot longer. "I'm going out with my boots on. I'll be playing until the day I die."
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