Travel & Culture » Canada

Small Ponds features Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne

Kenny was already a child prodigy at eight!

Your name? Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne.

Home (or adopted) town? Kelowna, B.C. (Originally, New Orleans.)

Population? 200,000 in Kelowna. (New Orleans: 380,000.)

Years in residence? Two years.

Where do you live now? Kelowna, B.C.

Local jobs held? Lifetime musician.

Favourite hangouts? Home studio.

Favourite nature walk? Lake Okanagan.

Favourite sports team? Canucks, Blue Jays, Kelowna Rockets, San Francisco 49ers.

Best swimming hole: Parkinson Recreation Centre.

Best place to get in trouble? Anywhere.

Your town’s claim to fame (before you)? The Ogopogo sea creature.
What part of this place do you wish you could bring with you on the road? Scenery.

Why do/did you like living there? Or what do you like about this small town compared with the other places you have lived?   I love the friendly people and the relaxed atmosphere.What else do you want people to know about this place?  Warm summers and mild winters and lots of beautiful people.

Last words? This is a great place to retire and live out your dreams.

 

//BIO//“There’s no boogie-woogie-blues piano man out there today who pounds the 88s with the conviction of Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne.” – Jeff Johnson, Chicago Sun-Times

Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne has been a travelling musician almost all his life, playing in show and cover bands from Texas to Hawaii, from Peoria to Paris. His 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

Kenny 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, the reverend Matthew Spruell, to play gospel music, the youngster was secretly introduced to the radically more exciting boogie-woogie by an uncle.

In his early teens, Kenny was playing dozens of gigs, including a 1961 appearance with the legendary Jimmy Reed. It was an infamous gig—everything Kenny’s father feared about the “devil’s music.” A vicious brawl erupted in the crowded, smoky, alcohol-fuelled club, and one man attacked another with a broken bottle, spraying blood everywhere. As Kenny recalls with a chuckle, “My dad grabbed my mom with one hand and ran up to the stage and yanked me off the piano bench and led us through the kitchen and out the back exit… That was pretty well the end of my blues career for over 20 years.”

After moving to Vancouver in the early ’80s, he soon forged a strong reputation on the B.C. and Prairies club scene. His full transformation into Blues Boss (his nickname came from the title of Amos Milburn’s Motown comeback album) occured following a 1994 European tour.

Three releases for the independent Canadian label Electro-Fi were all nominated for Juno Awards, and his 2006 release, Let It Loose, was a Juno winner.
Kenny’s Stony Plain recording debut in 2011, An Old Rock on a Roll, earned him a Blues Foundation nomination for the Pinetop Perkins Piano Award, and a 2012 Living Blues Award for Best New Contemporary Blues Recording of 2011, as well as one naming him Most Outstanding Keyboard Musician. His latest album for Stony Plain is Jumpin’ & Boppin’ (2016).
Kenny’s time certainly isn’t up yet; in fact, it seems like it’s only just starting. Resplendent in one of his many multi-hued French custom-tailored stage suits, he’s a throwback to the golden age of classic rhythm and blues.