Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Kenny Wayne is the Blues Boss of Boogie Woogie

Andy Grigg, publisher of Real Blues, has become a champion of pianist-vocalist Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne. Wayne, a San Francisco native, has been a Vancouver resident and is laying some of the toughest boogie woogie and jump blues since the late Amos Milburn passed.

Grigg has just put out on his Real Blues label, Blues Boss Boogie, which showcases Wayne’s piano and urbane vocal stylings. Milburn is clearly the dominant influence on Wayne, although one might suggest a dose of the boogie woogie trio of Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson, and Meade Lux Lewis, as well as Fats Domino. Wayne is heard on 16 originals for over an hour of jump blues and boogie woogie backed by The Twisters, A top Canadian jump blues band, saxophonist Johnny Ferreira and guitarist Shuggie Otis on three tracks adding his distinctive twang.

Kenny 'Blues Boss' Wayne on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise. Photo © Ron Weinstock
Wayne's piano, a joy throughout, is to the fore on the instrumental Burrard St. Boogie. He adapts, and speeds up slightly, Milburn‘s One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer melody for the spirited You‘re a Hit, which also sports some tasty harmonica playing from Dave Hoerl in support of Wayne‘s vocal and piano. A highlight has to be the ballad, True Blue, while his sincerity prevents Apple of My Eye from coming across as corny. When he rocks on Blues Boss Boogie, one knows that the Blues Boss he‘s singing about is himself.

Wayne shifts from the piano to the Hammond B-3 as Shuggie Otis joins on guitar for the amusing Pig Feet, and the closing late-night instrumental, West Coast Blues, where Shuggie lays down some very tasty T-Bone-Walker styled guitar to go with Wayne‘s deep-fried organ . Lovers of boogie woogie and jump blues should not miss this. It may be hard to find so you may want to contact Real Blues, 302-655 Herald Street, Victoria, BC, Canada, V8W 3L6 or call (250) 384-2088, and you might want to ask about this publication as well.

I received my review copy from the label. This may be very difficult to find and fortunately the Blues Boss continues to be active today and released several fine albums in the years since I write this in 1998. Here is a video of him performing.

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