In the 80’s, if you were into hard rock, then you were for sure familiar with Winger and their string of hits flooding radio and MTV, tunes like “Seventeen,” “Miles Away,” and “Headed For A Heartbreak.” Many dismissed the band and its leader Kip Winger as mere hair band pinups.
To those of us in the know, this was complete and absolute bullshit. Anyone with half an ear who has listened to these records or seen this band live knows that all of the guys in Winger, including Kip, were serious musicians who could play circles around many of their peers.
Besides being an accomplished multi-instrumental musician, Kip also is a Grammy nominated artist getting the nod in Best Contemporary Classical Composition for his album Winger: Conversations With Nijinsky. If that’s not diversity in music, then I don’t know what is. These days Kip splits his time among many musical activities, playing shows with the full band Winger, composing songs for the musical Get Jack, and playing solo acoustic shows that are just him, his acoustic guitar, and sometimes a percussionist.
I was fortunate enough to catch one of his solo acoustic shows recently at Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta. A small venue designed with acoustic singer/songwriters in mind, the club holds about 150 – 200 people and it was sold out. Kip did a great job displaying the strength of songs like, “Headed For A Heartbreak,” “Rainbow and the Rose,” “Who’s the One,” and “Under One Condition” (just to name a few) in stripped down version where it was just him, his 12 string, and a percussionist. Kip Winger has written some amazing rock songs with killer melodies that would be remembered more than 25 years later. The songs really seem to shine in this raw format.
The small space also encourages close crowd interaction with the artist, and Kip was completely willing to engage the fans in this intimate setting. The set was filled with Winger classics interspersed with off the cuff conversations with the audience, even going so far as to pull a willing participant up on stage to assist in a duet of “Miles Away,” one the band’s classic hits.
In one of the many conversations Kip had with his audience in between songs was with a woman regarding her passion for fellow musicians Matthew and Gunnar Nelson, at which point Kip proceeded to pull out his phone, hold it up to the mic and call Gunnar Nelson. Gunnar answered the call and a conversation took place over the PA with the audience, Kip, and Gunnar Nelson. This is all just part of the fun and craziness that went along with a Kip Winger solo acoustic show. The show came off as an episode of Storytellers, mixing in some comedy with a very good music soundtrack which is a very cool experience to be a part of.
If you are a Winger fan, I highly recommend you taking in one of his solo acoustic shows in a small setting if possible. It is highly entertaining.
Steven Michael @growinguprock