Johnny Winter meets a real cool cat

Hey there sweet family,

Understatement alert: Rowland and I love going on Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruises.  A banner frequently hung high on board reads “Our Ship Kicks Ass!” and we do our best to keep up with all the ship that happens. Bluesin’ and Cruisin’ makes us feel like kids again. 🙂


Last Fall’s cruise went from Miami, to Key West, to New Orleans, to Progreso, Mexico and back.

One of the guit-artists on board was Johnny Winter. Because of the laid back nature of the LR&BC it’s not uncommon to find yourself up close and personal with the stars, and this was true of Johnny Winter. Rowland and I sat across from him in the breakfast room, rode in the elevator with him a couple of times and Johnny also visited the Dzibilchaltun Mayan ruins and hot springs outside of Progreso, Mexico with our group.

One of our favorite casual interactions with him occurred just after he’d finished jamming on the main deck. We were about 5 feet from Johnny and his crew when he said, “Now *that* was fun!!” and gave a little fist pump in the air.

As easy going as all that was, I got a little nervous thinking about going up to Johnny at an autograph session where cruisers have the opportunity to meet all the stars in one room at one time, pose for pictures and have items signed.

Why? Well, … (deep breath, confession time) … because, I’m Lana, and I have a Tigger. And on autograph night of the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise I decided it would be hilarious fun to dress BT (baby Tigger) in cruise swag, bring him to the autograph session, and introduce him to all the artists as a cool cat. My underlying goal was to have all the artists pose with BT for a photo.

BT the Card Shark on 2011 Blues Cruise

Baby Tigger (BT) playing cards with towel friend on a 2011 cruise.

Rowland’s immediate, emphatic reaction was, “You can’t be serious.” But I was. So off we went to the autograph session, Rowland, BT and me.

This time when we got on the elevator, Johnny Winter wasn’t the star. As we got on a guy said, “Look who’s here – it’s Tigger!!”, and the whole car erupted in cheers!

At the autograph session cruisers remarked how cool BT was, and star after star was happy, if not flattered!, to pose with him – Tommy Castro, Ruthie Foster, Samantha Fish, Taj Mahal, Irma Thomas, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Popa ChubbyTrampled Underfoot Royal Southern BrotherhoodLos Lobos ALL of them. Heck, Lee Oskar insisted on posing for numerous photos to get one that was just right! 🙂

YonRico of Royal Southern Brotherhood and BT say "Hi, Sheyenne!"

YonRico Scott of Royal Southern Brotherhood and BT say “Hi, Sheyenne!”

The real challenge, at least in my head, would be in getting Johnny Winter to pose with him. I mean, Johnny Winter posing with BT … could that really happen?

As we approached the last table of the session, Johnny’s, my previously confident voice may have quavered a bit as I sat BT on the table and said, “Hey, how’d you like to meet a real cool cat? His name is BT and we’d love to take your picture with him.”

Paul Nelson steadied BT (hey, even Tiggers can get tipsy on the Blues Cruise!) as Johnny slid his left hand across the table in the direction of our furry little orange and black guy until… … wait for it … … Contact!! Johnny Winter was touching BT!!  “What’s that?” he whispered to Paul.  “It’s a Tigger”, replied Paul. “Tigger? All right!” Johnny smiled broadly, agreed to the photo, and posed with BT and Paul.

Fortunately, Rowland captured the unlikely moment because I was too giddy with joy to do anything but smile.

Blues Cruise 2013 Johnny Winter, BT and Paul Nelson

Blues Cruise 2013 Johnny Winter, BT and Paul Nelson

For all the music he wrought, for all the demons he fought, I believe Johnny Winter liked feeling like a kid again too. And on a warm October night somewhere at sea in the Gulf of Mexico Johnny touched a furry baby Tigger and that kid appeared.

Take care and know that you are loved,