Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne – Can’t Stop Now
Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne’s new disc “Can’t Stop Now” is as well seasoned, well travelled, and well spoken as the man himself, having been recorded in St. Louis, MO, Toronto, ON, Seattle, WA, Vancouver, BC, and Whitehorse, Yukon Territory! Kenny also has a foot firmly planted in both Blues music’s bright future and it’s glorious past, (that foot is also attached to a pair of hands that play the piano like no one else, check out the opening track “Boogie Woogie Mama").
On first listen to this album I was struck with the soulful Big Easy R&B flavour that washes over many of the tracks like steam from a simmering pot of extra spicy 5th ward jambalaya, Kenny did after all spend much of his childhood in his Mother’s hometown of New Orleans. His astute interpretation of Fat’s Domino’s “Pack Your Suitcase” and his heartfelt original “Ragin’ Storm” do the Crescent City proud.
Family connections also make an appearance on “My Little Peach” where Kenny’s son Cory, lays a funky rap seamlessly into the heart of the song. When I asked Kenny about the variety of grooves on the disc he told me “ I’m trying to remind the R & B lovers of their Blues Roots and to remind the Blues people of how sweet R&B can be and to bridge the gap a little between them”. Kenny’s long time fans know he rarely misses a chance to pay generous tribute to the keyboard legends that have influenced him. Kenny had the privilege of playing with the late piano master Johnnie Johnson on several occasions and pays homage to him with both a wonderful version “Tanqueray” and an original “Johnnie J. Was Good” recorded in St. Louis with Johnnie’s widow in the studio beaming in approval.
“I Can’t Stop Now I’m Having My Fun” Kenny sings on the track “Let’s Have Some Fun”. Let’s hope Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne never stops doing what he does so very well. His music makes this mean old world that we live in a much better place to be.
Andrew Galloway, President - Electro-Fi Records
1. Boogie Woogie Mama - 3:27 2. You Can Pack Your Suitcase - 3:37 3. Judge by the Look - 5:56 4. You Cured My Blues - 3:35 5. My Sweet Little Peach - 5:35 6. Let's Have Some Fun - 4:39 7. Ragin' Storm - 5:20 8. Don't Cry - 3:06 9. Tangueray - 4:56 10. Johnnie J. Was Good - 4:29 11. The Party's Over - 3:31
Kenny Wayne (piano, lead vocals) , Brandon Isaak (guitar on 1,3,5-8, 11) , Lindsey Mitchell (guitar on 2) - Jeff Healey (lead Guitar on 4) , Dave Haddock (bass on 1,3,6,8,11) , Lonnie Powell (drums on 1,3,6,8,11) , Dave "Hurricane" Hoerl (harmonica on 1) , Russell Jackson (bass on 2) , Theo Brown (drums on 2) , Johnny Ferreira (sax on 2) , Mitch Lewis (rhythm guitar on 4) , Rodney St. Amand (bass on 4) , Maurine Brown (drums on 4) , Chris Whiteley (trumpet on 4) , Richard Underhill (alto Sax on 4) , Chris Gale (tenor sax on 4) , William Carn (trombone on 4) , Corey Spruell (vocal rap on 5) , Scotty Harris (sax on 6) , Ron Hendee (trumpet on 6) , Randy Oxford (trombone on 6) , Chris Isaak (drum beats & sound effects on 5,7,11) , Rich McDonough (guitar on 9,10) , Gus Thornton (bass on 9,10) , Joe Pastor (drums on 9,10)
Kenny Wayne may be nicknamed the Blues Boss, but a more apt title would be the King of Boogie-Woogie. The pianist/singer was born in Spokane, grew up in San Francisco, and honed his chops in the juke joints of Los Angeles, where he played Latin, pop, rock, and R&B. Since the '80s he's been based in Vancouver, British Columbia, where his combination of boogie-woogie, blues, old-time R&B, and New Orleans fonk have made him a major attraction. Wayne's a playful vocalist with a warm, witty style that echoes the work of Ray Charles, Louis Jordan, Fats Domino, Aaron Neville, and Johnny Otis. On this, his sixth album, he's in fine voice and backed by his usual cohorts Russell Jackson, bass; Johnny Ferreira, sax; Dave "Hurricane" Hoerl, harmonica; and Theo Brown, drums. The album's vibe can be summed up in the title of one of the set's bounciest tracks, "Let's Have Some Fun." You can feel Wayne's smile as he sings the tune's hook and rocks the piano with a syncopated second-line feel accented by a funky horn section. "You Can Pack Your Suitcase," an obscure Fats Domino track written by Dave Bartholomew, is a driving shuffle highlighted by Wayne's light twinkling right-hand fills and Ferreira's nasty sax. "Don't Cry" is a vivid slice of barrelhouse boogie, again with a bit of Crescent City syncopation that recalls Allen Toussaint's work with Lee Dorsey. "Tangueray" is a late-night saloon song with Wayne delivering a smooth, seductive vocal to sing the praises of his favorite libation. The band joins in on backing vocals while guest player Rich McDonough adds a mellow guitar solo. "Boogie Woogie Mama" shows off Wayne's strong left hand and exuberant vocals and Hoerl's fine harmonica. Wayne's solo makes the keys on his 88 dance off the piano. "My Sweet Little Peach" gives listeners a slightly more up-to-date take on the blues. Wayne's clavinet playing brings to mind Stevie Wonder and his spoken introduction plays a winking homage to Barry White. Wayne's son Cory Spruell drops a lively rap midway through the track to give the kids something to groove to. There's not a weak track here, and Wayne's engaging vocals and masterful playing will have you grinning long after the music's over.
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