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New Johnny Winter Duets Album to Feature Eric Clapton, Joe Perry, Billy Gibbons & Mark Knopfler

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Eric Clapton, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons are among the stars who’ll appear on the sequel to veteran bluesman Johnny Winter’s 2011 collection of vintage blues tunes, Roots.  Winter’s manager and band mate Paul Nelson tells Billboard that he recently finished mixing the record, titled Roots 2, which he expects to be released in June or July.

“We started this series of traditional songs that Johnny grew up on I knew it was an easy formula for him to digest,” explains Nelson.  “He was happy to do this and it fueled his need to do this, relearn songs from the past. It was educational.”

Other guests who will be featured on the album include Mark Knopfler, Dr. John and Ben Harper.  Nelson reports that two more editions of Roots also are planned.

Winter, meanwhile, says Roots 2 features “songs mostly from the ’50s, and a lot of guests.  If there’s good people, other good musicians, people enjoy it. I just love it.”

He points out that the goal behind recording the duets series is “just to bring it to the people of today who haven’t listened to the old music.  It’s better than anything they hear today.”

Winter has spent the past week in Austin, Texas, where a documentary focusing on his life and struggle with substance abuse titled Johnny Winter: Down and Dirty premiered Wednesday as part of the South by Southwest festival.

Nelson executive produced the movie, which was filmed in 2010 while Winter was withdrawing from methadone and receiving treatment for OCD.

“You can see Johnny get healthier through the course of the movie,” Nelson explains to Billboard, adding that the flick is “more than just a music show.  It’s VH1 Behind the Music, but with a PBS twist.”  Additional screenings of Johnny Winter: Down and Dirty are expected to be scheduled later this year.

Meanwhile, Winter released a new box set titled True to the Blues late last month in celebration of his 70th birthday.  The career-spanning, four-CD collection gathers together album cuts and live tracks, and features collaborations with Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield, Muddy Waters, Derek Trucks, country star Vince Gill and Johnny’s brother Edgar.

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