Guitar Hero

Brit blues vet keeps ego in check over storied career.

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For someone who was named one of the top 100 guitarists ever by Musician magazine, Kim Simmonds remains low-key about his talents. The only original member left in the British blues band Savoy Brown, he also strung together a series of acoustic-guitar solo albums. Then it hit him: He wasn't really good at it. "It all started back in the 1980s. I did a few Savoy Brown acoustic records. I started playing by myself because I was in the doldrums, and I really didn't know what to do with myself," remembers Simmonds. "It's one of those great basics that sort of helps your playing, your singing, your songwriting."Tonight, Simmonds plays Lakewood's Winchester Tavern — one of his favorite clubs, he says — during one of only four gigs he's booked this year in the U.S. Without a band behind him, fans will hear a distilled version of his bluesy style. "In a solo show, you can't hide behind the big, ballsy guitar or the drums. With acoustic, I have to write and sing songs that ring true," says Simmonds. "I can't sing like Aretha Franklin or Paul McCartney. They can sing about a bottle of ketchup and make you believe it. For me — someone with limitations — as long as the song rings true, I'm fine." Whether he's on his own or with the band, Simmonds says he tries to take the blues in a new direction. "With the band, I'm out there with an energy and emotion, and that's my calling card," he says. "With the acoustic, there's a different kind of energy, and you have to harness it in a different sort of way. That's the challenge." Simmonds hits the stage at 9 tonight at the Winchester, 12112 Madison Avenue in Lakewood. Tickets are $15. Call 216-226-5681 or visit
Sat., Jan. 26, 9 p.m., 2008

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