Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne

An Old Rock on a Roll

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Late blooming blues/boogie singer/pianist Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne was born in Spokane, Washington in 1944 and grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, San Francisco, California, and Los Angeles, California, but he has been based in Vancouver, British Columbia since the early '80s, which helps explain his three-LP association with the Canadian Electro-Fi label and his switch to Alberta roots indie Stony Plain Records for An Old Rock on a Roll. Stony Plain assigned him to label blues producer/guitarist Duke Robillard, who handled this lively set, matching Wayne with bassist Brad Hallen, drummer Mark Teixeira, and a four-man horn section. All the songs are Wayne originals, which is to say, the pianist has come up with his own lyrics, although the tunes and arrangements have been familiar in blues and boogie circles for the better part of a century. Even the lyrics are in familiar form, as Wayne bemoans the vicissitudes of a "Devil Woman" and explores the virtues of a life spent in bars. What matters, of course, is his powerful, heavily rhythmic playing, which has a lot of New Orleans in it, but predates rock & roll, despite the album title, and his professed love of Chuck Berry sideman Johnny Johnson and Fats Domino. Nobody is credited on organ, but that must be Wayne, too, on the closing instrumental, "Give Thanks," with the piano overdubbed (or some fast switching). This is not an album to come to looking for something new, but rather it presents a reconfirmation of how much can still be made out of bluesy, barrelhouse piano playing by a master.

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