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Can't Stop Now

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Album Review

Kenny Wayne may be nicknamed the Blues Boss, but a more apt title would be the King of Boogie-Woogie. The pianist/singer was born in Spokane, grew up in San Francisco, and honed his chops in the juke joints of Los Angeles, where he played Latin, pop, rock, and R&B. Since the '80s he's been based in Vancouver, British Columbia, where his combination of boogie-woogie, blues, old-time R&B, and New Orleans fonk have made him a major attraction. Wayne's a playful vocalist with a warm, witty style that echoes the work of Ray Charles, Louis Jordan, Fats Domino, Aaron Neville, and Johnny Otis. On this, his sixth album, he's in fine voice and backed by his usual cohorts Russell Jackson, bass; Johnny Ferreira, sax; Dave "Hurricane" Hoerl, harmonica; and Theo Brown, drums. The album's vibe can be summed up in the title of one of the set's bounciest tracks, "Let's Have Some Fun." You can feel Wayne's smile as he sings the tune's hook and rocks the piano with a syncopated second-line feel accented by a funky horn section. "You Can Pack Your Suitcase," an obscure Fats Domino track written by Dave Bartholomew, is a driving shuffle highlighted by Wayne's light twinkling right-hand fills and Ferreira's nasty sax. "Don't Cry" is a vivid slice of barrelhouse boogie, again with a bit of Crescent City syncopation that recalls Allen Toussaint's work with Lee Dorsey. "Tangueray" is a late-night saloon song with Wayne delivering a smooth, seductive vocal to sing the praises of his favorite libation. The band joins in on backing vocals while guest player Rich McDonough adds a mellow guitar solo. "Boogie Woogie Mama" shows off Wayne's strong left hand and exuberant vocals and Hoerl's fine harmonica. Wayne's solo makes the keys on his 88 dance off the piano. "My Sweet Little Peach" gives listeners a slightly more up-to-date take on the blues. Wayne's clavinet playing brings to mind Stevie Wonder and his spoken introduction plays a winking homage to Barry White. Wayne's son Cory Spruell drops a lively rap midway through the track to give the kids something to groove to. There's not a weak track here, and Wayne's engaging vocals and masterful playing will have you grinning long after the music's over. ~ j. poet, Rovi


Born: 1944 in Spokane, WA

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Kenny Wayne grew up in the midst of a sharp musical dichotomy, thanks to parents whose tastes were wildly divergent. His preacher father told him to stay on the straight and narrow path, and at all times to avoid "the Devil's music," a classification that included boogie-woogie. His mom, however, was thoroughly taken with everything about boogie-woogie. As a self-taught musician, it was all she could play. She especially favored Amos Milburn's "One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer," while she also exposed...
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Can't Stop Now, Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne
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