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The Winters Brothers Stampede Ahead

by Craig Cumberland

First appeared in GRITZ Magazine, Issue #7, June, 2004

I didn't come across the Winters Brothers Band until about four years ago - but I tell ya, I love their music. It's inspired to say the least. Unfortunately, they don't have many releases (for the wherefore and why of that keep readin') but what is out there is well worth adding to your collection. I'm glad I discovered 'em because they are one of my main staples. Their music reminds me of Charlie Daniels from the Saddle Tramp/Night Rider/High Lonesome period. Great lyrics that tell compelling tales, sweet musical passages and tasty harmonies are all part of the package. They are in the same echelon as classic MTB, Outlaws and CDB.

I had the pleasure of talking with Dennis Winters at show in Tucson, AZ a few years ago (they were opening for MTB) and he's a genuine, down-to-earth guy with endless stories from the Southern rock road that he's traveled. I also learned he's a real cowboy, having competed for years in the rodeo. He also runs a farm in Tennessee, so his lyrics draw from real-life experience. They have a new CD, Southwest Stampede, just released. Dennis sent me a three-song sample and each song was spectacular. All were over six-minutes, so the music was given room to take you on a journey - and what a journey it was. Anyone who loves MTB and the CDB will love the Winters Brothers. I've been wearing these songs out! It just might be their best work ever - and that says quite a lot. It absolutely smokes! It takes me back to the classic Southern rock of the 70's. The sound quality and production are amazing. I promise you won't be disappointed if you treat yourself to this CD. It is now available at their website, www.wintersbrothers.com.

Dennis and Donnie Winters were born in Southern Florida then moved to the hills of Tennessee at a very young age. They are third generation musicians. Grandfather "Pop" Winters band, "The Southern Strollers," were performing and recording in the late 40's. Their father Don Winters, Sr., had a successful career on his own with recordings on RCA and DECCA Records. He was also a part of The Marty Robbins Show and spent 23 years with Marty.

Soon after the Allman Brothers hit the scene Dennis and Donnie began to experiment with the new Southern sound. They formed the Winters Brothers Band and their future looked bright. They developed a following in the South and along the East Coast. Their self-titled debut album, released by in 1976 by ATCO/Atlantic Records, was produced by Taz Di Gregorio (of the Charlie Daniels Band). The singles “Sang Her Love Songs” and “Smokey Mountain Log Cabin Jones” both had regional success. The songs rounding out the album are “I Cant Help It,” “Shotgun Blues,” “Devil After My Soul,” “Misty Mountain Morning,” “Old Stories,” “Sweet Dream Lady,” “Dream Ride” and “Laredo.”

Lady fate was not kind to the WBB though. They were slated to join Lynyrd Skynyrd's 1977 tour but the Skynyrd plane crash changed both band’s destinies. The tour would have exposed the WBB to a nation-wide audience and perhaps they would have had a different history. Their second album, Coast to Coast (produced by Paul Hornsby) was held back by the record company as the emergence of disco reared its head and Southern rock fell out of favor. It was eventually released independently. The songs are “Love Living This Way,” “A Gun Don't Mind,” “Call It Off,” “All I Want To Do,” “Lies, Lies,” “Pedal to the Metal,” “Homegrown,” “Hold on Baby,” “Misery in My Soul,” “Carolina” and “Don't Give Up on Love.” Toy Caldwell plays steel guitar on “A Gun Don't Mind.” Coast to Coast will soon be available at the band's site.

The band did appear on several Volunteer Jam albums. “Sang Her Love Songs” was featured on the 1978 Volunteer Jam III and IV double album and “Rich Kids” was on Volunteer Jam VI, released in 1980. A third album, Keep On Runnin', was a five-song mini-LP released in 1985 by Star Track Records (based in Nashville). In addition to the title track, the songs are “Jailer-Jailer,” “You're Breaking My Heart,” “Ice Cold Love” and “Pedal to the Metal.”

Their next to latest CD Southern Rockers was released in 2000 on South Star Records. It features eight new Southern rock songs; “Country Boy Rock & Roll,” “Tasty,” “Angel (Hold Me),” “Ain't Gonna Let It,” “Full Moon Rider,” “Irresistible Charm,” “Family Curse,” and “What Kind Of Lover.” Four songs (originally released on the debut album) were recorded live (in Nashville on November 27, 1999). Those are “Sang Her Love Songs,” “Misty Mountain Morning,” “Smoky Mountain Log Cabin Jones” and “I Can't Help It.” All songs were written and produced by Donnie and Dennis Winters and may be purchased through www.wintersbrothersband.com.

The Winters Brothers are currently hosting a half-hour show airing several times a week on cable access Channel 19 in Davidson County, Nashville, Tennessee, featuring the brothers "unplugged.” Also spotlighting the talents of friends, nationally and locally.
The Winters Brothers Band also host the annual Summer Jam. It's held every June on their family farm located in Nolensville, TN. This year marked the 25th Anniversary , held on Saturday, June 19, 2004.

The Winters Brothers never got the exposure their music deserved. Had they, they would be held in the same regard as the CDB, MTB, Skynyrd, the Outlaws and the ABB. But anyone who listens to 'em is sure to love 'em.

Photo by Michael Buffalo Smith

Visit Craig’s website, www.tuckerhead.com



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