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Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne "An Old Rock On A Roll"
With the loss of Pinetop Perkins, in March of 2011, the list of really great piano pounding boogie woogie blues men continues to dwindle. Among that list though, you will find one of the hardest working Piano man around, and he goes by the name of Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne.
Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne (Kenneth Wayne Spruell). was born in Spokane, Washington in 1944. Shortly after, his family moved to New Orleans and when he was eight, by which time he was already considered a child prodigy on the piano, they moved on to San Francisco, before settling down a bit in Los Angeles. In his early teens, Kenny was already playing dozens of gigs, one of which included an appearance with none other then the great Jimmy Reed. That gig, which was at the Alpha Bowling Club, wound up turning into a drunken brawl, which prompted his parents to yank him off his Piano bench and ended up stalling his Blues career for 20 years. His music playing however, did not stop and by the late sixties he once again found himself playing with some of the most renowned artists around, such as, Bonnie and Delaney, Billy Preston, and members of both Sly and The Family Stone and the Doobie Brothers, to name a few. The early 80's saw Kenny moving to Vancouver, B.C., a plays he says, "it just seemed like home to me ".
In 1994 following a European Tour, his transformation into the "Blues Boss" had become complete. The nickname "Blues Boss", by the way, "came from the title of Amos Milburn's Motown comeback album". Like so many Blues Artists before him, that European Tour ignited his career and now 17 years later, that fire is still burning brighter then ever, with numerous accolades for his three Electro-Fi Records releases, which were all Juno Nominated with his 2006 release "Let It Loose" winning. Now with the release of "An Old Rock On A Roll", his debut album for Stony Plain Records, Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne, shows us all, that even in his 67th year of life, he still has all his sparkle and shine.
"An Old Rock On A Roll" consists of 13 fun filled Tracks, all Originals, and all written by Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne. "An Old Rock On A Roll" was produced by Duke Robillard, whom is considered Stony Plain Records secret weapon, and whom not only has more then a dozen of his own records on Stony Plain, but he has also overseen many of the recordings by Ronnie Earl, Long John Baldry, Herb Ellis, and Jimmy Witherspoon, to name a few. Beyond producing "An Old Rock On A Roll", Duke Robillard also is the Guitarist on this album and is accompanied by six other musicians, Brad Halle (Bass), Mark Teixeira (Drums/Percussion), Doug James (Baritone Sax), Sax Gordon (Tenor Sax), Doug Woolverton (Trumpet), and Carl Querfurth (Trombone). "Sax" Gordon Beadle is one of the most exciting and in-demand performers carrying on the great tradition of American Rhythm & Blues Saxophone, both in studios and in clubs and concert halls worldwide." Doug James and Carl Querfurth played together on "Blue Mood (full title: Blue Mood: The Songs of T-Bone Walker) a tribute album to T-Bone Walker by Duke Robillard ."
Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne starts off "An Old Rock On A Roll", the way he really knows how to, and that is Straight Ahead Tickling the Old Ivories Piano Pounding Boogie Woogie Blues. "Searching For My Baby" takes you back to the days when the young ones danced to the style of music call Bop, and in fact this Track is very reminiscent to Gene Vincent's 1958 song "Dance To The Bop". The next song up "Fantasy Meets Reality" continues with the same killer speed of the first Track, but this one has a bit more of the Horns section playing. As with the first Track, we really get a nice dose of Kenny's Piano playing. The next Track "Heaven Send Me An Angel", is a bit slower, but certainly no less enjoyable. This one also has Duke Robillard's Guitar work accentuating the performance throughout.
Continuing on to the Track 5, the title Track, "An Old Rock On A Roll", Kenny's playing is a little more subdued on this number, which is more then made up for with the great Sax playing of whom I think is Sax Gordon. Track 6 "Don't Pretend", shows off Kenny's smoky bar room Jazzy Blues Style. "Don't Pretend, Don't Pretend To Be In Love With Me", starts off this fine piece of well written magic. Track 10, "Bring Back The Love", is also done in that great style. The final 3 Tracks start to pick up the pace, and as far as sittin' on your butt is concerned, it ain't going to happen with these three tunes rockin' the dance floor. The last of these 3 Tracks "Give Thanks", is an instrumental, with basically Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne and Duke Robillard wonderfully playing off each others expertise. A nice end to a this very entertaining album.
One thing which caught me right off the bat when I first heard Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne singing, on this release, is that despite the fact that he is in his 67th year, his voice still came across as though from a singer a lot younger. I guess that can be expected from a performer who isn't ripping his lungs out ever night, like a hard core rocker would be.
For fans of Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne, the wait has been three years since his last release, a fact that he understands as he gives thanks, at the end of his liner notes, to those that have waited patiently for this release and certainly no one can dispute the fact that the wait has been well worth it.
Music journalist, Jeff Johnson, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times stated, "There's no boogie-woogie-blues piano man out there today who pounds the 88's with the conviction of Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne." "An Old Rock On A Roll" once again proves that statement to be absolutely true.
"An Old Rock On A Roll" is once again, another great album, from a gifted, well loved, and truly honored Piano Man.
Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)
Additional Info
1. Searching For My Baby 4:10
2. Fantasy Meets Reality 3:57
3. Heaven Send Me An Angel 4:58
4. Devil Woman 4:50
5. An Old Rock On A Roll 3:46
6. Don't Pretend 5:22
7. Run Little Joe 3:06
8. Howlin' 3:17
9. Wild Turkey 101 Proof 4:05
10. Bring Back The Love 5:49
11. Way Overdue 4:11
12. Rocking Boogie Party 2:23
13. Give Thanks 3:56
Listen To Samples Here...