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Given that the origin myth is as central to the blues as the flatted 7, it’s a minor miracle that we don’t have one for Johnny Winter. (Probably because he came along about 10 years too late for Alan Lomax.) Barely a teenager, Winter was already releasing 45s and making the occasional television appearance, all the while giving hope to white boys everywhere—and a new meaning to the word “prodigy.” But the best appetizer for this Saturday’s Birchmere show is Breakin’ It Up, Breakin’ It Down, a live performance from 1977 with which Winter hoped to recatalyze the careers of James Cotton and Muddy Waters. The record is not only an example of the supersession done right (and make no mistake, Winter has done several wrong)—it’s also an exquisite testament to Winter’s range, from his clean-toned swing strokes on “Caledonia” to the Elmore James apery on “Dust My Broom.”
WINTER PERFORMS AT 7:30 P.M. AT THE BIRCHMERE, 3701 MT. VERNON AVE., ALEXANDRIA. $35. (703) 549-7500.