Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne has been playing the blues professionally since 1961 and is still touring around the world.
The 74 year-old JUNO Award winner is famous for his flamboyant zoot suit and his work ethic.
The blues legend began his career in a restaurant that had a hidden gambling den behind the stage in Los Angeles where they would get slipped tips by the big winners that night.
“We were making $15 a night which was a lot of money back then, most people that started then were making four or five dollars,” said Wayne. “There was a special door that slid with a special knock, so we played as a disguise I guess… It was an illegal thing, not a casino.”
The legendary keyboard player, born in Spokane, W.A., never deviated from his instrument, he says he was always drawn to the keys, saying he has picked up an accordion in the past, but it wasn’t the same.
Incorporating his voice into the music came later for Wayne, because there was no demand for it playing in clubs.
“People wanted to hear dance music, so I was hired to play everyone else’s music. Now I’m hired to play my music,” said Wayne.
Now he uses his music to travel around the world and share his classic tunes that have survived decades, now he has released his tenth album, Inspired By The Blues. The Boogie Woogie Hall of Famer worked alongside harmonica player Billy Branch, guitarist Duke Robillard and B.B. King’s long-time bassist Russell Jackson. The album includes a tribute to Fats Domino. The self-produced album is a throwback to 1950s rhythm and blues with a modern twist.
“Music is very powerful, but it’s the words that are very powerful. It’s very important because that is the human element. Just the music and the kind of vibes that come from the music, how passionate you are when you play it transcends that kind of message. (When playing in non-English speaking countries) they may not understand what I am saying but they are learning, they are listening and they are feeling.”
Wayne says that the blues isn’t going anywhere any time soon, aligning it with the likes of Classical Music.
“A lot of Blues artists are at the age of passing on and they are the ones with the torch, whoever is still standing will need to run with it. It’s been around a long time, it was birthed from gospel music. It’s not going away but it does change form as it attracts the younger kids. They are going to try to keep it going, modernize it and make it their own. It will be around as long as classical, rock’n’roll will but forever in different forms,” said Wayne.
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