Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne took his audience on a joyful journey into the deep South last Thursday night at Shiraz Cafe and Restaurant.
With songs like Kansas City, Georgia on My Mind, New Orleans and, my request, Rainy Night in Georgia, the award-winning boogie-woogie piano player put on a great show and gained a few new fans along the way.
During the break, a woman visiting from Fort St. James came up to Wayne during the break and invited him to play in their community. He also got a few invitations to do house parties. Then it was back to the Shiraz stage for the second set.
The Kelowna-based artist also gave us going to Chicago (But I Can’t Take You), Baby Please Don’t Go, and Clickety Clack, which showed off his considerable keyboard and vocal skills and allowed him to start “getting comfortable,” he said. He performed a few tracks from Rollin’ With the Blues Boss, a 2014 CD with his Powder Blues Band.
Wayne got started in the blues business in a strange way, he says, laughing now at the memory. When he was “much younger” he was performing in a bar in Spain, doing his “tried and true” Nat King Cole hits and songs by other popular artists as well as gospel tunes.
“I was playing there with another artist, he was doing Jerry Lee Lewis and other artists. We had this big tip jar and I noticed this other guy was getting the tips and I wasn’t getting any. It was a blues bar so I just began playing some blues tunes and every time I played the blues, I noticed my tips went up. That’s how I found out there was a demand for blues music and I just continued doing that (he laughs) – and making the tips.”
Wayne doesn’t play for tips any more – although he loves it when people buy his latest CDs and stop by to chat. So it’s now just a funny story to tell. One thing he does do, however, is continue to travel abroad bringing his blues music to new audiences. In October, he departs for another tour in Spain (without the tip jar) as well as Russia and Switzerland, where he already has a legion of fans.
“They enjoy this kind of music and there is a whole new younger generation that is picking up on it too,” says Wayne. “I was in southern France recently and they love blues music there too, so it’s all good.”
In addition to playing his own music, Wayne is also a tribute artist for the likes of Fats Domino and he plays jazz and blues festivals throughout the year. While he was in Prince George last weekend, Wayne played for a Blues Underground and community radio CFIS 93.1 FM fundraiser dance with local band members Curtis Abriel on guitar and Nick Tindale on drums. The event also featured Brandon Isaak (formerly of the Twisters, now a solo artist). He and Wayne also played a house party a venue that is becoming increasingly popular with out of town artists.
Wayne says he’ll continue to come back to Prince George to perform as long as the fans want him to. Judging by Thursday night’s appearance at Shiraz (owner Reza Akbari is a big supporter of the arts community) and the sold-out dance Saturday, that’s a for sure. For more information on the Juno award-winning artist, visit kennybluesbloss.com.