I had the honor and pleasure to hear George Winston play live last night at the Brighton Center for the Performing Arts to a sold out crowd. Thanks to my parent’s record collection, I grew up listening to George Winston’s albums, Autumn, Winter into Spring, and December. I confiscated those records for my own collection once I joined the record revival. George has many other recordings, 13 to be exact, but his seasonal ones are my favorite.
It was just him, a Steinway piano, guitar for a few songs, and he pulled out his harmonica once. He was casual, but a delight, walking out in a buttoned up shirt, jeans, socks, and no shoes. His introduction to each song and humor was charming. He announced that he has two live sets that he interchanges as he tours. The one he performed for us was The Summer Show….pause (it’s still winter here in the month of April), laughter from the audience, and his other titled The Winter Show…pause, laughter once again from all of us in the crowd.
George’s command of the piano was amazing – he has been playing for over 40 years. He was one with the piano as he played, one-minute forte, the next second, pianissimo with such ease and grace. He used the inside of the piano, playing with the piano strings for a few of the songs. It was fun to see how he creates certain sounds on the piano that I’ve heard on the records.
He played his Jazzy/Blues style songs, “New Orleans Shall Rise Again #8 in F” and “Cat & Mouse” inspired by Thomas “Fats” Waller & Teddy Wilson, and interchanged with a few of his seasonal pieces, “Rain”, from Winter into Spring, “Woods” from Autumn, and “Fragrant Fields” from Summer.
“Rain” was my favorite, and his live version was superb. Yes, it reminds you of rain when you listen to it on the record, but to hear it live, and with some improvisation on his part, wow-I not only heard the rain and its various patterns, but saw it with my eyes.
In addition, to top it off, George had a local food bank there and asked us all to bring food to donate. The CD and ticket sales also benefitted the local food bank. He is a great, down-to-earth man, who cares for those in need. He sure fed our souls with music last night too.