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They know a thing or two about classic rock

Winnipeg Wind – Ed Miller, Gary Ferguson, Richie Sarlo, Brian Witmer and Vern McDonald – are set to play the Commercial Tavern tomorow (Jan. 31). [Submitted]

The band may be relatively new, but the players themselves have decades of experience with local groups, and a following thanks to time with the likes of Major Hoople’s Boarding House and Copperpenny.

Under the banner of Winnipeg Wind, the five veterans of the scene will take to the stage at the Commercial Tavern in Maryhill on January 31.

Named for a song they penned by the same name, Winnipeg Wind features Ed Miller on drums, Gary Ferguson on keyboards, Richie Sarlo on guitar, Brian Witmer on bass and Vern McDonald on guitar. All five contribute vocals to the effort.

“We have a lot of four- and five-part harmonies that we’re always working on,” said Miller. “Everyone writes, sings and plays well.”

The band members all have lengthy résumés, and have worked with each other over the years. About a year ago, they came together to form the new project.

“We all know each other through the years. It’s worked out really well,” he said of Winnipeg Wind.

Miller was part of Major Hoople, and has also played with the likes of Bobby Curtola and Kelly Jay of Crowbar. Ferguson has enjoyed stints with Hour Glass, Little Caesar and the Consuls and Ash Mountain. Sarlo’s played with Bo Diddley and Screwage, while  Witmer  had been with Project People, Evil Roy Slade and Larry Mercey.  McDonald’s credits include Copperpenny, Yukon, Katz (Lulus House Band) and the Black Forest Band.

With so much experience under their belts, all of the players are now in it for the music, pure and simple, says Miller.

“Everyone’s been playing for so long, there are no egos involved.

“We’re having so much fun doing it,” he said.

For this week’s show in Maryhill, the band will be on the classic rock train – with a name like Winnipeg Wind, they’ll have to be a tribute to some native sons such as The Guess Who. The set list will include some originals from the band and its members.

With a new single on the way, the band is also working on an album, Miller notes.

In the meantime, there’s plenty of rehearsal time as they develop Winnipeg Wind’s sound, and a mix of concerts and club shows just now ahead of the busier summer festival season.

“It’s great to get out and play,” he said. “We want to keep active, keep playing.”

Given the band members’ long history, they’ve got a built-in following who keep track of the live shows.

“There are people who come out to see us whenever we’re playing,” said Miller, adding the guys appreciate the effort they make.

Winnipeg Wind performs at the Commercial Tavern January 31. Tickets are available at the venue, 1303 Maryhill Rd., or by calling 519-648-3644. For more information, visit The Commercial Tavern’s website.

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