Entertainment

Blue showdown at WinterBites Festival

The WinterBites Festival coming to the Comox Valley will present a blues piano showdown called Pianorama featuring veteran players Kenny (Blues Boss) Wayne and David Vest (pictured). - PHOTO SUBMITTED
The WinterBites Festival coming to the Comox Valley will present a blues piano showdown called Pianorama featuring veteran players Kenny (Blues Boss) Wayne and David Vest (pictured).
— image credit: PHOTO SUBMITTED

Only one piano player will be left standing, say organizers of the first WinterBites Festival, which presents a blues piano showdown Jan. 18.

“We've got two of North America's true piano masters of blues and boogie woogie teaming up exclusively for a show at WinterBites,” brags Doug Cox, talent booker for the new WinterBites Festival.

“My favourite thing about curating shows is putting together once-in-a-lifetime collaborations of talent for what makes a truly unique event,” Cox adds. “Both the players and the audience are treated to an extraordinary night of music and sharing beyond a usual concert experience!”

Such will be the experience for those who choose to attend the Pianorama with music veterans Kenny (Blues Boss) Wayne and Louisiana's David Vest.

Kenny grew up in the midst of a sharp musical dichotomy, thanks to parents whose tastes were wildly divergent. His preacher father told him to stay on the straight and narrow path, and at all times to avoid "the Devil's music," a classification that included boogie-woogie.

His mom, however, was thoroughly taken with everything about boogie-woogie. As a self-taught musician, it was all she could play. She especially favoured Amos Milburn's One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer, while she also exposed her son to songs by Nat (King) Cole, Little Willie John, and Fats Domino.

Wayne has been a travelling musician almost all his life, playing in show bands and cover bands in his youth, seeing the world from Texas to Hawaii and from Peoria to Paris. Deeply influenced by Fats Domino and Johnnie Johnson, Kenny Wayne’s other heroes include keyboard rockers whose names are beginning to fade into history — men such as Amos Milburn and Bill Doggett, both long overdue for rediscovery by the new generations of blues fans.

Although he now calls Canada home, Maple Blues Award winner David Vest is an authentic, Southern-bred boogie-woogie piano player and blues shouter. Born in Alabama in 1943, David grew up in Birmingham, not far from Tuxedo Junction.

About the time he turned 21 he found himself onstage backing Big Joe Turner, who said that David Vest's playing made him feel like he was back home in Kansas City.

He had also worked the southern gospel circuit and David wrote the first songs ever recorded by Tammy Wynette. He also dated a sister of the Louvin Brothers, toured with Faron Young (who threatened to kill him), backed Red Foley in a show where all the stars got robbed, worked in a theatre with Fannie Flagg and became the first American artist to record an album in Romania, after his appearance at the Sibiu Jazz Festival.

Other WinterBites concerts in January feature Ashley MacIsaac, Jim Byrnes and Barney Bentall.

For more information, visit www.winterbitesfestival.com or call 1-855-400-2882. One can also join the conversation using #CVWinterBites.

— Vancouver Island WinterBites Festival

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