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George Winston

Green River, Utah

October 30, 2020

Big fan of George Winston since the early 1980s. His album "December" plays over and over in my subconscious. His music has helped me get through some of the most stressful parts of my life.

I've been lucky to see him perform twice - once at Radio City Music Hall and the second time with my young daughter Courtney at the Kennedy Center. At the Kennedy Center we had great seats and could watch his fingers dancing around the keys. It was mesmerizing.

I've found myself listening to him again during this phase of my walkabout. His music fits the mood I am in most days.

Here's his bio followed by several of my favorite songs. Notice how incredibly long his fingers are. He was born to be a pianist!

George Winston (b. December 26, 1949) is an American pianist who was born in Michigan and grew up mainly in Montana (Miles City and Billings),  as well as Mississippi and Florida.  He is best known for his solo piano recordings; several of his albums from the early 1980s have sold millions of copies each. He plays in three styles: the melodic approach he developed that he calls "rural folk piano"; stride piano, primarily inspired by Thomas "Fats" Waller and Teddy Wilson; and his primary interest, New Orleans R&B piano, influenced by James Booker, Professor Longhair, and Henry Butler.

Musical and Performance Style

Many of Winston’s melodic pieces are self-described as "rural folk piano" or "folk piano", a style he developed in 1971 to complement the uptempo Stride piano he had been inspired to play by Fats Waller’s recordings from the 1920s and 1930s. These melodic pieces evoke the essence of a season and reflect natural landscapes.  The third style he plays is New Orleans R&B piano, influenced mainly by James Booker, Professor Longhair, Henry Butler, as well as Dr. John and Jon Cleary.

Winston dresses unassumingly for his shows, playing in stocking feet, stating that it quiets his "hard beat pounding" left foot. For years, the balding, bearded Winston would walk out on stage in a flannel shirt and jeans, and the audience would think he was a technician, coming to tune the 9-foot New York Steinways that are his piano of choice. According to the Austin American Statesman in 2015: "As for his piano playing, Winston remains a master of both tone and invention. Starting with a bluesy tune inspired by Professor Longhair — Winston’s most recent albums have included two Gulf Coast-inspired collections — he proceeded through seasonal favorites "Rain" (from 1982's Winter Into Spring) and "Woods" (from 1980’s Autumn). On the latter, he created remarkable 'hollowed' sounds to some notes by reaching inside the piano and muting strings with one hand while striking keys with the other."

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