Let's get something straight: The Winchester is not a graveyard for cock-rocking dinosaurs and FM-radio relics. Yet some local music fans think this is true, simply because most artists who play the Lakewood club are old and ragged enough to collect Social Security. But Jim Mileti's rock and roll IQ is too damn high to let former Tesla axemen and Helix dropouts clog up the Winchester's concert calendar. Over the past five years, the indefatigable owner, booker, and promoter has organized some seriously sublime shows — including British folk-rock pioneers Fairport Convention, stoner honky-tonk icon Commander Cody, and Nashville outlaw-babe Stacie Collins, who was featured in a recent issue of No Depression — so there.
Mileti simply loves unsung heroes and maverick cult artists. It's fitting that Wishbone Ash headlines the Winchester's fifth-anniversary bash (which comes complete with all kinds of giveaways, free food, and commemorative souvenirs). Although most classic-rock fans have probably never sparked one to England's Wishbone Ash, the band's 40-year-old shadow looms large over many icons. Like a lot of British groups from the early '70s, the Ash unloaded a proggy brand of bruising blues rock that was full of winding solos and six-minute epics. But the quartet separated itself from the pack with tight Beatlesque vocals, finely chiseled compositions, and two lead guitarists who consistently experimented with anthemic harmonics. That latter point cannot be overstated: Wishbone Ash served as the template for Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, and every other metal act that sported screaming twin leads. Argus, from 1972, is the perfect intro to the group — a hard-rock landmark that was just reissued as a two-disc deluxe package. Cool stuff — and happy anniversary, Winchester.