Better days are here

Winger classics plus a classical twist at BMI Speedway

By Allyson Crawford

Photo: Winger will perform on Aug. 23 at BMI Speedway in Versailles

“It’s well known to rock musicians that Ohio Rocks!” Kip Winger told The Dayton City Paper about his upcoming show at BMI Speedway in Versailles. “I play with the band and solo a lot in Ohio. Plus, when you’re a musician and you get offered a gig, there is only one answer: yes!”

The band Winger will perform at BMI Raceway on Friday, August 23, with support from special guests A Tough Break. Far from the late-80s hit “Seventeen,” the guys in Winger have evolved their sound over time. There are still excessively catchy melodies and hooks – but the deep understanding of music composition remains, and is now more present than ever. The band just released Better Days Comin’, a mix of straight rock and more complicated arrangements. For Kip, that comes naturally.

“Honestly, I’ve left seeds of classical tendencies all along the way,” said Winger, ready to provide a brief history of classical music in the hair metal world. “For example, the string quartet at the beginning of ‘Hungry’ or ‘Rainbow in the Rose’ and ‘Headed for a Heartbreak’ is definitely out of the norm modality for a pop song. Pull has some pretty challenging music. In my opinion, people are now catching up to it. Also since I’ve been more active in classical music, people are taking notice to what I’m putting into the rock music. For me, one feeds the other.”

Kip Winger doesn’t just enjoy classical music. He’s a legitimate composer, writing scores for Oberlin College, The Tucson Symphony Orchestra and the San Francisco Ballet.

Still, Winger knows the average rock fan would rather hear a drum solo and blazing guitar riff instead of a complicated orchestral work. That’s why he’s careful to only mix his love of different music styles so far. After all, Winger made him famous. He doesn’t want to alienate fans that have been with him for decades. But, Winger is careful to never underestimate his audience. He believes those open to emotional music will appreciate a little change of pace, but still, there’s a time and place for everything.

“Unless you specifically set out to do a hybrid project, it can end up sounding like [parody act] Spinal Tap,” Winger said. “When Winger fans come to a show, they want to rock out. So, we stick to that. Plus, it’s an equal member band, so my personal quest for being a good ‘composer’ shouldn’t impose on the band’s identity. It’s all working out pretty well so far.”

From the early days of playing bass for Alice Cooper and writing songs for glam band Kix to platinum records with Winger, Kip knows a thing or two about traveling the world on tour. And it never gets easier with experience.

“Touring has always been difficult,” Winger admitted. “The travel wears you out, probably more so now than back in the day. But that goes with the territory. You just do it; find ways to make it productive, or not.”

As a whole, Winger does tend to make their time on tour productive by writing songs and working on changes to sets and figuring out ways to make the shows fresh for fans. Since Winger as a band and Kip as a solo artist play Ohio fairly frequently, keeping things interesting is important. For those who want to hear the Winger hits, Kip promises his band will play them at BMI Raceway.

 “We have fun, the band members are all good friends,” Winger explained. “And it shows on stage. Just come and have a good time. The band sounds better than we ever did, so no one will be disappointed. It’s a blast!”

The band is currently in the middle of a worldwide tour for Better Days Comin.’ In addition to playing many cities in America, Winger will take their roadshow to Japan, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Ireland, Denmark and more before the year ends.

Winger will perform on Saturday, Aug. 23 at BMI Speedway, 791 E. Main St. in Versailles. A Tough Break is also on the bill. The show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance, or $25 at the door. For more information, please visit

Allyson B. Crawford lives in Springboro and writes about ‘80s metal bands on her daily blog You can usually find her at all sorts of metal shows around Ohio and across the country. 

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About Allyson B. Crawford

View all posts by Allyson B. Crawford
Allyson B. Crawford
Allyson B. Crawford lives in Kettering and writes about ’80s metal bands on her daily blog You can usually find her at all sorts of metal shows around Ohio and across the country. Allyson can be reached at

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