BOSS OF THE BLUES - GENTLEMAN OF THE BOOGIE WOOGIE
A Stony Plain artist biography
KENNY ‘BLUES BOSS’ WAYNE:
A VETERAN PIANIST’S BRAND
NEW TAKE ON BOOGIE AND BLUES
Super fast bio version:
Born Spokane, Washington. Raised New Orleans, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Based: Vancouver, British Columbia. Home: On the road, somewhere…
Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne — resplendent in a brightly colored, French custom-tailored stage suit — hammers out rockin’ boogie woogie, deeply felt blues, and puts a fresh coat of paint on good old-fashioned roots rock and roll.
Now with a brand new album, An Old Rock on a Roll on the Stony Plain label, he’s on the road again.
He’s been a traveling 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.
Rediscovering his own blues roots long ago sent his career into overdrive, thanks to his fresh approach to old music, the drive and roaring good-time attitude of his live performances, and his smartly original self-penned songs.
As one writer put it: ““When a piano player’s got the three most important things — the playing, the voice, and the look – he becomes the whole package. An artist you just have to see and hear.”
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.
The new album has been produced by Duke Robillard, who has overseen sessions for Stony Plain by Jimmy Witherspoon, Jay McShann, Rosco Gordon, Long John Baldry, Herb Ellis, Ronnie Earl and many others. The co-founder of the band Roomful of Blues and a former member of The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Robillard has more than a dozen of his own recordings on Stony Plain.
Robillard’s take on Wayne? “He’s a monster pianist, a soulful singer, and he captures of essence of old school blues and boogie while sounding totally fresh and contemporary,” he says.
The longer bio version:
Kenneth Wayne Spruell was born in Spokane, Washington in 1944, and spent his early years in New Orleans with his Louisiana-born parents. He was eight, and already a child prodigy on piano, when he moved with his family to San Francisco and then to Los Angeles. Encouraged by his preacher father, the Reverend Matthew Spruell, to play gospel music, he was also secretly introduced to the radically more exciting boogie-woogie by an uncle
By his early teen years, Wayne he was playing dozens of gigs in the early '60s -- including a 1962 appearance at the Alpha Bowling Club with the great Jimmy Reed. It was an infamous gig; everything Kenny’s father feared about the ”devil's Music.” A vicious brawl erupted in the crowded, smoky, alcohol-fueled club, and one man attacked another with a broken bottle, blood spraying everywhere. As Kenny recalls with a chuckle, “My dad grabbed my mom with one hand and ran up to the stage and yanked me off the piano bench and led us through the kitchen and out the back exit ... That was pretty well the end of my blues career for over 20 years.”
It didn’t stop his music, however. By the end of the sixties, he was on-stage with the cream of the Los Angeles soul and R&B scene — playing with Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, Billy Preston and members of Sly & The Family Stone and the Doobie Brothers.
Moving to Vancouver in the early ’80s — “it just seemed like home to me,” Wayne says now — he soon won a strong reputation on the B.C. and Prairies club scene. His full transformation into “Blues Boss” (his nickname came from the title of Amos Milburn's Motown comeback album) came following a 1994 tour of Europe. Kenny's longtime passion for boogie-woogie and blues paid off in the form of star treatment from piano-loving European music fans.
Three releases for the independent Canadian label ElectroFi were all nominated for Juno Awards — Canada’s equivalent of the Grammies, and his 2006 release, “Let it Loose” was a Juno winner.
Now, with the release of his Duke Robillard-produced Stony Plain debut, he’s already got a busy 2011 mapped out, beginning with a May trip to Paris, summer blues festivals, and a string of dates in the United States and across Canada in the Fall.
High spirited, fresh as this morning’s e-mails, Kenny Wayne has earned his title, and he’s having fun. “This old rock IS on a roll,” he laughs. “Just give me a piano and an audience, and everybody’s gonna have some serious fun!”
For further information, interview requests, high resolution pictures, please contact:
Richard Flohil/Beth Ward, Richard Flohil & Associates
PH: (416) 351-1323
In the United States:
Mark Pucci, Mark Pucci Media
PH: (770) 804-9555
Dixie Frog Records (France) - Europe
Holger Petersen, Stony Plain Records
PH: (780) 468-6423
www.kennybluesboss.com (includes high-res photos)
By Richard Flohil
An Old Rock On A Roll - Stony Plain 2011
Can't Stop Now - Electro-Fi 2008
Let it Loose - Electro-Fi 2006 (Juno Winner)
88th & Jump Street - Electro-Fi 2002 (Juno Nominee)
Blues Carry Me Home - Isabel 2002 (recorded in Paris, France)
Blues Boss Boogie - Real Blues 1998 (Juno nominee)
Alive & Loose - Blue Roots - 1995 (Juno Nominee)
Wayne makes you feel like dancin’
[+ Show ]
Teresa MALLAM/Free Press Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne puts dancing digits to the keyboard at the Treas...Teresa MALLAM/Free Press Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne puts dancing
digits to the keyboard at the Treasure Cove Show Lounge Friday night.
Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne sure knows how to put on a good show. Wow. More than that, the Vancouver-based boogie woogie piano player singer songwriter knows how to get music fans up on their feet dancing.
Friday night at the Treasure Cove Show Lounge, the Blues Boss was his usual flamboyant self in a fushia (he corrected me when I referred to it as red) dinner jacket and gold colored lame shirt.
From old tunes to new songs, the artist delighted the audience with solid piano playing (he’s known for his legendary pounding of the 88s) a brief history of the blues and his own career anecdotes.
Influenced by blues artists Fats Domino and Amos Milburn, Wayne took the crowd on a musical journey to New Orleans with a soulful Going Down South and kicked things up a bit with Joogie to the Boogie. My favourite song of the night was Blackberry Wine, a bluesy original tune off his 2006 Juno award winning CD (Best Blues Album.) Wayne followed that up with a slowly simmering version of the great blues classic Blueberry Hill.
The blues artist born in Washington, raised in San Francisco and now living in Vancouver, has a big fan base in Prince George and he makes our city one of his regular stops every year. Last year, he was here with The Twisters for a gig arranged by Blues Underground Network.
With his musical roots planted firmly in New Orleans Jazz and Blues, music critics have called Wayne the true “missing link” between past and modern day blues piano players. An evening with Kenny Wayne shows why. He’s a class act.
Rave reviews and prestigious awards aside (he’s won numerous Maple Blues Awards and Juno nominations,) Wayne plays for people not praise and prizes. He has fun with the crowd and his sense of humour comes through with stories like the one about his wife waiting at the alter while he first played a wedding tribute on the piano before joining here. His serious side shows with tributes to hurricane-torn New Orleans.
A word about the local Rae King Blues Band who warmed up the audience for Kenny Wayne (with great vocals by Mark and Brenda Roland) and stayed on stage to play back-up. Even though they played together for the first time Friday night, the blues band sounded as if they were tuned into Wayne’s every musical move – and if you’ve ever watched Kenny Wayne’s hands flying across the ivories, as if by magic, you know keeping pace with the Blues Boss ain’t easy.
Director - Blues Underground
Prince George BC
Fats Domino Tribute
There are no upcoming dates at this time.