September Solstice

P.D. Kelley

I’ve enjoyed George Winston’s music over the years and I was thrilled to hear him live at the Rogue last Saturday, September 15th. The stage featured one baby grand piano, one microphone and the simplest of lighting. Out walked Winston, looking like an eccentric professor and carrying a guitar case. The audience responded with enthusiasm and then settled quietly to enjoy the concert. This crowd knew when to clap, when to wait, and there were times one could hear the proverbial pin drop. Winston put on what he described as his “Summer Show” and it was a dizzying mix of modern classical, New Orleans style R & B, as well as what is termed “stride piano”. Think early twentieth century jazz with a dash of boogie, ala Scott Joplin. Winston played some original pieces as well as compositions from his favorite composers. He said he has been influenced by everyone from James Booker and Henry Butler to Frank Zappa and The Doors. In fact, he ended his last set with a stirring version of Riders on the Storm. He finished his first one with a sprightly tune called Sassy played on a beautiful Martin guitar. We were also treated to another guitar number for his encore. As a bonus, he also did a soulful number on the harmonica in mid concert. This supremely gifted musician also seemed to have a fascination for the many sounds a piano can make and he often plucked the internal strings to make notes resonate in interesting ways. At times he made the Steinway sound like a harpsichord using this method. He is also a giving artist with a number of benefit performances and albums to his credit. This night, all proceeds from the sale of his CD’s went to the Josephine County Food Bank. His stage persona was humble and he made several gentle jokes that the audience loved. Near the end of the show he quipped that he had last been to the Rogue Theatre in 2004 which meant that he would return in 2032. George! You’ll be 83. Please come again much sooner than that.

Catch you on the flip side…