HONOKAA — We may live on a island in the middle of the Pacific, but rock legends love to stop here to thrill their loyal fan bases.
And on Saturday night, Rick Derringer and Edgar Winter awed a packed house at the Honokaa People’s Theatre, the last stop in Hawaii for their “Still Alive and Well – A Tribute to Johnny Winter Hawaii Tour 2018.”
I saw Derringer on New Year’s Eve 1979 at the Richfield Coliseum outside of Cleveland. Great show.
The difference between that concert and Saturday night’s was the physicality Derringer had in 1979, climbing speakers and playing guitar while going into a full backbend.
But 38 years hasn’t slowed his fingers, if anything, his guitar playing skills have improved with age.
Derringer, along with bassist Charlie Torres and drummer Kenn Moutenot, revived Derringer’s first hit with the McCoys, “Hang On Sloopy,” which went on to become Ohio’s official Rock Song.
Yes, Ohio has an official rock song. After all, it is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Derringer introed the 1965 classic with an anecdote about walking into the museum and seeing a banner bearing the song’s fame and a drum head from the band on display. Yet he has yet to make it into the list of inductees who grace the walls.
“They have a whole wing for Madonna there,” said Derringer. “And what about George Clinton? What was his hit?” Mumbles were heard from the audience as they tried to figure out that piece of trivia. “I’m going to call ‘em up and when I get there, I’m goin’ to say, ‘Gimme that thing!’”
Band members Torres and Moutenot held their hands over their hearts as Derringer waled a moving rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, followed by “Real American,” saluting all Americans in uniform, military and otherwise. “In some ways, it’s taken on an exponential growth I never anticipated,” said Derringer. “It’s my biggest song in a lot of ways, even though it’s never been released as a single.”
Derringer said even though the song has been used in various political platforms and the video in which the song was featured while former President Obama unveiled a copy of his birth certificate at a White House Correspondents’ dinner has over 10 million hits, he has never seen a penny in royalties.
Rounding out his chart toppers, the crowd was wild for the 1973 hit “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo.”
After a short intermission, Edgar Winter took the stage, dramatic as ever with his long, flowing white albino hair.
With an intro tease to the song “Crossroads,” his band delivered on the 1973 favorite “Free Ride.”
Winter mused that as a keyboard player he was tired of getting hidden behind the set up so decided to put a strap on his synthesizer to be free to move around the stage, the first rock performer to do so. He still has that signature look and finesse, along with his sax talent.
Winter also proved his vocals haven’t diminished performing a scat competition with amazing guitarist Doug Rappoport, followed by bassist kOko Powell and drummer Jason Carpenter.
The crowd was waiting for 1973’s “Frankenstein” and they got what they wanted with a rendition that lasted over 15 minutes.
Fans were heard praising the show as they left in the rainy Honokaa night.
Old rockers don’t fade away. Rather, they land on the Big Island eventually.