Jazz and boogie woogie pianist extraordinaire Michael Kaeshammer returns to Victoria for the first time in two years, with live performances Dec. 10 at the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney and the next night at the McPherson Playhouse. Photo by Tine Acke

Juno Award-winner laying the Hammer down in Victoria

Jazz and boogie woogie pianist Michael Kaeshammer returns to where it all began

To say the world is Michael Kaeshammer’s oyster is an understatement for this talented pianist and composer.

Over three weeks in October and early November, the two-time Juno Award winner (and eight-time nominee) played 18 well-attended shows in China. It was his eighth time touring the country: while he admits to knowing knows few phrases in Mandarin or Cantonese, his musical language “is universal.”

Home for a well-earned rest on the Saanich Peninsula for a handful of days afterward, the German-born, Victoria-raised jazz/boogie-woogie piano king jetted over to Europe for a Nov. 24 concert in Barcelona and visited family along the way.

Kaeshammer is looking forward to the upcoming dates at home, his first theatre shows here since 2016: he’ll play a sold-out show Dec. 10 at the Mary Winspear Centre and a Victoria Blues Society-hosted concert Dec. 11 at the McPherson Playhouse. At 41, many years removed from his days as a teen sensation playing at Hermann’s Jazz Club, he said he’s enjoying playing and connecting with audiences around the world more than ever.

But getting back home?

“It’s the best,” he told Monday in between loads of laundry during his brief pit stop here. “First of all, I’m in love with Vancouver Island and I’m so happy I live here.”

Known for being productive on the road, even during his down time – he wrote much of the material for his new album, Something New, on the trains in China between shows last year – he also takes full advantage of just being home, noodling around on his piano with whatever style of music he wants, for his own enjoyment. “I love playing at home, as much as I love performing for the home audience.”

That said, he figures as long as he can communicate on stage the joy he feels in performing and creating musically, he’ll keep on touring.

Local audiences are in for a treat, as the rhythm section that joined Kaeshammer on the album – drummer Johnny Vidacovich (Professor Longhair) and bassist David Piltch (k.d. lang) – will help present songs from Something New, as well as a selection of the pianist’s favourites.

For the new album, recorded in New Orleans at the historic Esplanade Studios in the heart of the Treme district, producer Kaeshammer shared the spotlight with a series of guest performers that included the likes of Colin James and Randy Bachman, Cyril Neville, Jim Byrnes and Amos Garrett. The result is a combination of blues, jazz and soul that further expands the piano man’s repertoire and demonstrates his versatility.

“New Orleans and the whole piano culture, it’s like the records my dad introduced me to,” he said. “And instead of recording and creating the touring band (in Canada), we decided to record where the sound already is. That was really fun.”

His previous album, No Filter, his first effort at self-producing, was nominated for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year at the 2018 Junos. While he’s not one for awards galas, he attended the event in Vancouver and enjoyed connecting with former collaborator Michael Buble. While the record didn’t win, Kaeshammer said being nominated helped prove to himself that taking on the producing role as well didn’t mean any compromises in the quality of the record.

But he still has special memories of the old days, when he would scour Monday Magazine to find venues to pitch gigs for himself.

“Playing in Victoria is such a special thing for me. I remember seeing some great shows at the McPherson; for me it’s reminding me of when I was 18.”

Tickets for the Dec. 11 show, if still available, can be purchased online at rmts.bc.ca, by calling 250-386-6121 or stopping by the Royal or McPherson theatre box offices. To find out more about Kaeshammer, visit his website at kaeshammer.com.

editor@mondaymag.com

JazzLive music

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Motion for Saanich to stand with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in pipeline debate postponed

One week delay provides more time to build community support, councillor says

UPDATED: Pat Bay Highway blockade ends three hours later

About 80 people from four major Peninsula First Nations blocking major highway

Central Saanich Police prepared for afternoon shut-down of Highway 17

Sgt. Paul Brailey questions efficacy of protest

Saanich students get on board Walking School Bus

Rogers Elementary students led by teachers and Saanich Police in new initiative

Fiddler on the Roof brings timely message to Oak Bay stage

Musical starts Friday in Dave Dunnet Theatre

VIDEO: Province promotes ‘lifting each other up’ on 13th annual Pink Shirt Day in Victoria

Students, MLAs, community members gathered at B.C. Parliament Buildings Wednesday

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 25

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

Winnipeg police investigating graffiti on RCMP and other buildings

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism

B.C. seniors’ watchdog calls for better oversight after recent problems at Retirement Concepts care homes

‘There is no financial incentive right now to be a good operator’ - Isobel Mackenzie

Trucking company fined $175K for Kootenay creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

B.C. Liberals call for ban on foreign funds to pipeline protesters

Sierra Club, Wilderness Committee back Coastal GasLink blockades

Most Read