“Growing up where I did in eastern Montana; the seasons and topography definitely influenced my music and writing,” says renowned multi-instrumentalist George Winston. “Every season has its own personality and its own unique qualities and they all say something different; so I tend to look at things that way when I compose my music.”
Born in the state of Michigan and raised mainly in and around Miles City and Billings, Montana; Winston has been referred to as the “Father of New Age Music,” a moniker that he is not necessarily at ease with; preferring the term “Rural Folk Piano” instead.
Winston makes it clear that he’s not a jazz artist in any way, shape or form but he does readily admit that he began playing the keys because of a certain freedom of expression and various interpretations of material; similar to the freedoms that come with certain styles of music such as jazz. “January of 1967 to October of 1968; I was most interested in R & B, instrumentals and the sound of the rock band The Doors. When I first heard Ray Manzarek, I was very interested in playing the organ; he and the band were a definite inspiration for me. The organ was all about interpretation but around 1970 or maybe it was ’71, I started getting into piano players like “Fats” Waller and Ted Wilson and I have always been a fan of Vince Guaraldi. I found that the same interpretations I was using on organ didn’t transfer well to the solo acoustic piano; so I began to concentrate on the piano. I’ve gone down a different path ever since, for me, music is like the weather; I’ll watch it then work with it. What I’m saying is, you have to look at the weather and make a decision on how to dress, or what your plans will be given the climate and I look at my music or what I perform much the same way; it’s ever changing.”
With fourteen solo piano, one harmonica, a single, EPs and two movie soundtracks under his belt for recorded works; Winston has a variety of material to draw from every time he takes the stage; be it on piano, guitar or harmonica and he plays whichever he chooses according to plan. Winston has done “Interpretation works” of his favorite artists such as 1996’s “Linus and Lucy-The Music of Vince Guaraldi” and 2010’s “Love Will Come-The Music of Vince Guaraldi, Volume 2” along with “Night Divides the Day-The Music of The Doors” in 2002. “My personal take on things, is that from 1921-1971, there was so much good music and an explosion of styles and composers and compositions; so many interesting things came out of that long stretch of time. I love the influences of Dr. John and Professor Longhair and I love doing their material but I also love doing Guaraldi, The Doors and I do only two Frank Zappa songs, truth is; they’re hard (laughs). Let’s put it this way; there are none of his works that I do not want to play. Frank Zappa was brilliant and it takes a special type of player to recreate his material and to it well. I think it’s wonderful that his son is keeping his music alive; he is doing a great job at it.”
Winston will be bringing his solo piano performance to New Jersey for two shows, Tuesday December 1 in Englewood at “The Bergen PAC” and Thursday December 3 in Newton at “Newton Theatre.” Each of these appearances will have a somewhat seasonal theme and the December 1 appearance at The Bergen PAC is also an opportunity for those attending to do some good for their community. Those attending the show are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item which will be donated to “The Bergen Center for Food Action” and a portion of all of his CD sales on that evening will go to there as well. “I don’t believe that I have ever played The Bergen PAC yet but at both there and the Newton Theatre I’ll be doing my winter show; or what I regard as my winter show. I’ll be performing songs I regard as winter or autumn tunes. I’ll be doing some of my favorite Guaraldi stuff, maybe some new things, no R & B influenced things, well at least not the plan at the moment but that may change and let’s face it; people come to shows based on what you’ve done in the past. Your popularity and draw are based on what got you to that point, people are coming to see me because of past records and not the new one just yet; the new one hasn’t fully taken hold or sunken in.”
Winston is a piano player for the common man as his stage appearance and laid back persona will attest and with his most recent EP “Spring Carousel-A Cancer Research benefit EP;” Winston continues to prove that he is a viable musical force for the good of all mankind.
To discover more about George Winston, please go to www.georgewinston.com.