Edgar Winter, right, is one of the guest on Walter Trout's latest album, "We're All In This Together." Trout performs Wednesday, Aug. 30, at Callahan's Music Hall in Auburn Hills (Photo by Marie Trout)
While he has a rich history as a member of Canned Heat and John Mayall’s Bluesbrakers, as well as a sideman for Percy Mayfield and others, Walter Trout has made his main mark as his own man.
The guitarist, singer and bandleader has been hung up his own musical shingle around 1990, leading the Walter Trout band and Free Radicals before shifting entirely to his own name in 2008. He’s won critical raves in all configurations and made headlines by overcoming a near-fatal bout of cirrhosis of the liver during 2013-14; He documented the struggle with his acclaimed 2015 album “Battle Scars,” which won two Blues Music Awards.
• The 66-year-old Trout’s just-released latest, “We’re all In This Together,” finds him in a celebratory mood, joined by 14 big-name buddies including Joe Bonamassa, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Randy Bachman, Warren Haynes, Edgar Winter, Mayall and more on a collection of covers and originals. The specter of his brush with death still looms, but for now Trout is happy to still have the blues...
Trout acknowledges he “wasn’t sure” how to follow-up the emotionally heavy “Battle Scars” but got the idea for “We’re All In This Together” after jamming with Shepherd and Winter at Carnegie Hall in New York City. “We were sitting around backstage and I know those guys and just happened to say, ‘I’d love to record something with you guys,’” Trout recalls by phone from Annapolis, Md. And they both said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it. Let’s play on a record together.’ Two weeks later I played in Toronto with Sonny Landreth and Randy Bachman, and I happened to mention to them, ‘I’d like to record something with you guys,’ and, yeah, they were into it, too. I just kept going, ‘Wow, this could be really good’ and started calling more people and had this long list of people, just like that.”
• Trout adds that he was not at all intimidated or apprehensive by these collaborations, despite the credentials of all his guests. “No, because there’s no competition,” he explains. “This is not sports. They respect me. I respect them. They all wanted to be on the record out of respect for me. None of these guys are ego tripping. It was mutual respect and friendship and love that happened with all these guys. It’s all about self-expression and ‘You do what you do and I’ll do what I do’ and that’s why it came out the way it did. You can hear it.”
• Trout was careful about matching up his guests with the songs they played on for the album. “I had to think about each guest -- What do I come up with to play with this guy?’,” he says. “So I would kind of sit and I’d think about their laying style and what they do and come up with a song to match it. I just want about it like that; ‘What does this guy do?’ I wanted to write something they’d enjoy playing on and something that had room for us to jam on. I had to approach each number like that.”
• Trout is open to the idea of another volume of all-star collaborations as well. “I had some other guests lined up,” he says. “I actually had 18 and the label asked me to keep it to 14, and the four I had to cut loose, I don’t really want to say the names but they’re all stellar, major star musicians. One of them told me he was told by his management he couldn’t do it ‘cause his band had a box set coming out, and two of them couldn’t do it because of scheduling. So there’s already guys to call for another one if I want.”
• After liver transplant and recovery, Trout’s health is holding up. “I feel great,” he says. “I’m a miracle of modern medicine and God’s love and the love and support of my family and the blues community and I feel great these days, better than I have in years and years. I am deeply and painfully aware of mortality. I have an awareness we’re all on borrowed time; I understand that phrase better than I ever did before. So now I want to live as much life as I can and play as much music as I can and be as creative as I can. And I want to love my wife and my kids as much as I can. As Gregg Allman sang, I ain’t wastin’ time no more.”
If You Go
• Walter Trout
• 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 30.
• Callahan’s Music Hall 2105 South Blvd., Auburn Hills.
• Tickets are $35 and $40.
• Call 248-858-9508 or visit atcallahans.com.