November 27, 2008

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New Age oldie
George Winston’s 88 keys come to Tupelo

By Dana Unger dunger@hippopress.com

George Winston began absorbing the sounds of the piano at an early age, and his instrumental tendencies received a shot in the arm from an unexpected and rather rocking source.

Winston will play Londonderry’s Tupelo Music Hall in two back-to-back shows on Friday, Nov. 28, and Saturday, Nov. 29, both at 8 p.m.

Known for his rural folk piano style, Winston has amassed an impressive résumé over his 30-plus-year career. He’s recorded more than 20 albums and plays more than 110 shows a year, including not just piano concerts but also solo guitar and harmonica performances. Though Winston has branched out into other instruments and sounds, its the piano that he always comes back to, its range providing him constant inspiration.

Winston recorded his first solo piano album, Ballads and Blues, for the late guitarist John Fahey’s Takoma Records.

He’s recorded several instrumental pieces for family-oriented projects as well, including the soundtrack for The Velveteen Rabbit, narrated by Meryl Streep, Pumpkin Circle with Danny Glover, and Bread Comes to Life with Lily Tomlin. Winston is also an extensive contributor to Peanuts soundtrack projects, including This is America Charlie Brown: The Birth of the Constitution, mainly playing the late Vince Guaraldi’s pieces.

Winston’s most recent album, Gulf Coast Blues & Impressions, was inspired by his desire to support the Gulf Coast rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Katrina and to pay homage to the artists who molded his own piano-playing aspirations. The album featured six of his own original compositions that were inspired by the Gulf Coast region, and pieces either written by or influenced by some of the best pianists New Orleans has to offer, including Allen Toussaint, Professor Longhair and Henry Butler.

All the artist’s royalties from the album are donated to the organizations, including ACORN and Common Ground, that are still working to help those in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast who continue to be affected by hurricane devastation.

The album follows in the philanthropic footsteps of his 2001 album, Remembrance – A Memorial Benefit, an instrumental album with proceeds benefiting families of 9/11.

Now touring in support of Gulf Coast Blues, Winston has also been working on several projects, including the album, Beloved – The Music of Professor Longhair, as well as a release for early 2009. The album Love Will Come – The Music of Vince Guaraldi, Vol. 2 is the follow-up to his popular 1996 recording Linus & Lucy – The Music of Vince Guaraldi, and will feature several of Guaraldi’s compositions from the Peanuts soundtracks, as well as selections from his jazz works.

Though he covers a wide range of sounds, Winston’s sound is Americana, rooted deep in the original traditions of early piano music and poured through a modern filter.


George Winston. Courtesy photo.

George Winston
When: Friday, Nov. 28, and Saturday, Nov. 29, at 8 p.m.
Where: Tupelo Music Hall, 2 Young Road, Londonderry
Tickets: $50, call 437-5100 or visit www.tupelohall.com.