Boss Of The Blues
Gentleman Of The Boogie Woogie
A Stony Plain artist biography (by Darryl Sterdan)
KENNY ‘BLUES BOSS’ WAYNE’S “INSPIRED BY THE BLUES”
ON HIS FOURTH STONY PLAIN ALBUM
KENNY “BLUES BOSS” WAYNE (2018 Bio) by Darryl Sterdan
Inspiration and perspiration. That’s what it takes to be a genius. And a
Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne is living proof. With decades of playing, countless
globe-trotting tours and a slate of acclaimed, award-winning albums under
the belt of his flamboyant zoot suit, the 74-year-old piano master might be
the hardest-working bluesman in show business. And this true original isn’t
changing his tune on his top-notch 10th album Inspired By The Blues.
“I’m not looking for a different path,” says the Kelowna-based performer. ”
I love that jump blues and boogie-woogie. That’s where my heart is at. I’m
just trying to keep that style alive. That’s classic stuff. And I’m at that
classic age, so it all works out.”
Indeed it does. Inspired By The Blues, out Sept. 28 on Stony Plain Records,
finds the Boogie Woogie Hall of Famer applying his deft touch and
tremendous talents to another slate of top-notch originals, with the help of special guests like harmonica player Billy Branch, guitarist Duke Robillard and B.B. King’s long-time bassist Russell Jackson. With 11 originals — including a tribute to Fats Domino — plus a bonus track of ‘Georgia on My Mind’ cut live in Mexico, the self-produced set serves as a throwback to ’50s rhythm and blues while putting a fresh spin on the genre.
“It’s almost like travelling down the same highway over and over,” says
Wayne of his songwriting approach. “What do you see? A lot of it might look
familiar, but you can probably find something a little different if you look
If you’re looking for variety, Inspired By The Blues has plenty to offer.
‘I Knew I’d Be Playing the Blues’ is Wayne’s life story set to a 12-bar shuffle.
Start Rockin’ hits the sweet spot between blues, boogie and rock ’n’ roll.
How ‘Bout That brings in the funk. The jumping, Louis Jordan-style Jimmy
and Johnny is a tale of a love triangle. Mr. Blueberry Hill celebrates the
slow-rolling style of New Orleans legend Fats Domino. And the
harmonica-laced blues of That Girl Needs Help was inspired by a news report on troubled youth. “It’s kind of a message song,” Wayne says. “I usually try to put in a few songs like that. I like to mix it up.”
It’s an approach he’s honed over the course of six decades in music. Born in
Spokane but raised in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New Orleans, Wayne was a child prodigy in his minister father’s youth choir. Eventually turning
from the Lord’s work to the Devil’s music, he took up the blues, borrowed
his nickname from legendary influence Amos Milburn, got a few fashion tips
from Jim Carrey in The Mask, and the Blues Boss was born.
He’s been large and in charge ever since. Wayne released his first album
Alive & Loose in 1995. It was followed by Blues Boss Boogie in 1998 and four
albums for Canadian label Electro-Fi Records: 88th & Jump Street, the
Juno-winning Let It Loose, Can’t Stop Now and the live Piano-Rama. Since
joining Stony Plain Records in 2011, Wayne has released ‘An Old Rock On A
Roll’, 2014’s Rollin’ With The Blues Boss and Jumpin’ and Boppin’ in 2016.
In keeping with those energetic titles, Wayne is a man in constant motion.
He’s built a stellar reputation within Canada and abroad for his colourfully
energetic shows, and regularly performs everywhere from Europe and Israel
to Russia and South America, selling out 800 to 1,000-seat venues and
headlining international festivals.
And the charismatic performer plans to keep boppin’ as long as he can. “I’m
gonna go until the chariot comes down and opens the door and I jump on,”
he says. “It’s like a friend of mine says: You gotta make the landlord happy.”
Spoken like a boss.