Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne
"There's no boogie-woogie-blues piano man out there today who pounds the 88's with the conviction of Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne." wroteChicago Sun-Times music journalist, Jeff Johnson. Born in Spokane, raised in New Orleans, Wayne’s powerful music recalls the era when piano players like Fats Domino, Amos Milburn and Bill Doggett worked the chitlin’ circuit on the “strolls” in dozens of American cities.
Wayne has been a traveling musician almost all his life, playing in show bands and cover bands in his youth, seeing the world from Texas to Hawaii and from Peoria to Paris. The “Blues Boss” has had two careers in the blues during his 67 years. He was just 16 when he began his first one in 1961, playing piano in a band that was backing Jimmy Reed at the Alpha Blowing Club in Los Angeles. Wayne was already a child prodigy when, at eight, he moved with his family to Los Angeles, and then to San Francisco. Encouraged by his preacher father to play gospel music, the youngster was also secretly introduced to the radically more exciting boogie-woogie by an uncle. By his early teen years, he was playing dozens of gigs in the early '60s — including the infamous gig at the Alpha Bowling Club with the great Jimmy Reed. Kenny’s father didn’t approve of the blues unless it was performed by the likes Count Basie or Duke Ellington. “Those were the kind of people who have class. Don’t listen to those low down drunks”, Wayne recalls his dad telling him. But Kenny persisted persuading his father and mother to attend the show, as it wasn’t in a juke joint, but a respectable place... It lasted only a few choruses into Reed’s opening number when a bloody fight erupted. The show promoter told the band to keep playing. “My dad grabbed my mother and snatched me off the piano. We exited out the back kitchen. That was the beginning and end of my blues career.”
The second one began in 1994, when the pianist was nearly 50, and he’s been building a devoted international following for his blues and boogie-woogie piano playing, his robust vocals, and a repertoire of original tunes in the tradition of such R&B giants as Amos Milburn, Ray Charles, and Fats Domino ever since. Moving to Vancouver in the early ’80s, he soon won a strong reputation on the B.C. and Prairies club scene. His full transformation into “Blues Boss” came following a 1994 tour of Europe. Kenny's longtime passion for boogie-woogie and blues paid off in the form of star treatment from piano-loving European music fans. Rediscovering his own blues roots sent his career into overdrive, thanks to his fresh approach to old music, the drive and rousing good-time attitude of his live performances, and his smartly original self-penned songs.. "Blues Boss" Wayne is a soulful vocalist and an electrifying performer, mesmerizing audiences with his spirited barrelhouse-styled key-pounding and his signature, flamboyant stage clothing. Think of a cross between Fats Domino and Professor Longhair and you'll be in the right ballpark. Wayne is unapologetic about the music he plays making the old tricks sound new and vital. He’s a one-man cheering section for the days when blues and small jazz bands met the roots of rock and roll. “When a piano player’s got the four most important things — the playing, the voice, the songs and the look — he becomes the whole package, “An artist you just have to see and hear.”
Wayne is a boogie-woogie master, and his vocals are sly, assured and just plain likeable; there’s an easygoing elegance to his delivery that matches his stylish presentation perfectly. --John Taylor - blogcritic.doc