Mexico City La Crónica de Hoy|
(in English translation)
Steve Winwood ex-member of Traffic.
With a smooth voice, SW, the youngest veteran of the English musical scene, gives attention to his arrival at a prolific half century life: "It has been a slow growing with ups and downs, but I think I´ve been lucky having a job that I love and one that has given me a living: the music. I feel lucky to still be making it today. Maybe arriving at my 50´s doesn't make me competitive, but now I have some wisdom ... well, maybe".
Although the term "legend" is often given suspiciously to musicians drowned in a marketing plan, SW has gotten this term in the best way. Coming from a family where everybody mixed good music with a strong discipline, Steve played in a jazz band with his brother Muff at 14 and became a member of the Spencer Davis Group in 1964 where he learned his first notes of R&B, soul and pop. A year later, after working in bars and dance halls seven nights a week, the public and the press began to focus in the group, mainly in that "skinny and shaded keyboard guy" who at that time was described as a "musical genius". Fortunately SW showed more intellect than his fans. Ignoring the ovations, he left SDG in a time that had proved to be a profitable way of life.
SW changed his fame for freedom and joined with D. Mason, J. Capaldi and C. Wood to form one of the main groups of the early 70´s: Traffic. Again praises surrounded every SW action. Between fights, reconciliations and long periods of rest, the group recorded three magisterial records; Mr. Fantasy, John Barleycorn Must Die and Low Spark of High Heeled Boys. Plus others that stayed recorded half way just because the ambition was lost.
In between he established a group with ex-members of Cream and Family just to make music for fun. But again the press was ready to catch them and Blind Faith became a zepelin blown by egos, that´s what that group felt after their only album. Depressed after the failure of Air Force (Ginger Baker´s project), SW believed that his career had finally found the right sound with Traffic. He reformed the group just to leave an epitaph with the album When the Eagles Flies.
It took more than two years for SW to understand that his nature was to play solo. With this clear understanding in his mind, he then was able to collaborate with other musicians like Lou Reed, Jim Capaldi, Sandy Denny, James Brown, David Gilmore, Marianne Faithfull, Paul Young, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimi Hendrix and Muddy Waters to produce records like Steve Winwood , Arc of a Diver, Back in the High Life, Roll With It, and Junction 7.
Taking some time from his birthday, SW called from Nashville for the Mexican press to start "heating the atmosphere" for the concert that will be given May 23 at the Metropolitan Theatre. Void of any gloating, SW said that the devotion to music has been the spark for a trajectory of exploration. "I believe I write songs to express feelings that I have; these can be lasting, strong, magical like Low Spark or spiritual like Higher Love. Above all I always try to be open-minded and at the same time careful about my beliefs in music. I love and I enjoy all music, from classical to jazz & ethnic to rock. I think the only separation is made between good music and bad music. Overall I like to explore all kinds of music styles."
CdH: Thinking of Arc of the Diver, an album that was produced by yourself, what kind of musicians play with you on this tour?
SW: I know now that the music has to be played by people who like to be together. To make a record completely solo can be an accomplishment, but I can't make it over and over. The band who plays in the tour are basically from England but there are several from the Caribbean, Aruba, Cuba and Scotland. It is a strange mix but they are great musicians.
CdH: In this tour you are visiting unusual cities. Is there any special reason?
SW: I don´t travel much anymore. I have four children and I don't want to be fooling around like my contemporaries. That’s why I am going to places I have never been. I don't like the long tours, don't forget that I'm 50 now and it is time to watch my kids grow.
CdH: Do you think you would make it now in the nineties just as in the sixties?
SW: Maybe not: When I started in the middle of the sixties, it was a different scene from today. Today the record companies are big corporations with business a priority. In the sixties, the companies first loved the music and then the business.
CdH: Being a protagonist and witness of the musical scene from the sixties, do you consider there's been a big evolution of the music from then to now?
SW: I think the music has changed quite a bit. The fact is that in some cases it has had modifications: there have been big technological steps. Instruments like synths have become more popular, but they are just ornaments. The real music scene -what makes the people feel fine to the people- is the same. I hope that the next millenium stays like this. The world has been transforming but the essential things of music haven't changed and those are the things that makes a good tone sound nice or bad.
CdH: Is there in the near future some collaboration with musicians whom you have never worked with before?
SW: Yes. I'm going to make a short tour with Tito Puente and Arturo Sandoval. It is a fusion project focused with the Latin sound and some other rhythms.
CdH: Finally, how are you able to keep your youth while in your fifties?
SW: Thanks. I think I got it because I found room for myself in the music. This has kept my sensation of being young.
Page created May 30, 1998.
Last updated May 30, 1998.