Celebrated performer George Winston is known for expressing the diversity of his musical interests in a single concert. Playing folk, rhythm and blues, and stride piano, Winston electrifies the space with his sensitivity and technique.
Winston is equally at home on the guitar, where he is influenced by the Hawaiian slack-key fingerstyle tradition, and on harmonica, which he plays in styles from Appalachian to Celtic to Cajun. That whole range is likely to be part of Winston’s performance in the Methow Valley on Tuesday (Sept. 25) at The Methow Valley Community Center in Twisp.
Whatever the instrument, Winston is committed to following the music where it takes him. “Some songs just get used for one function. I just see where each song goes, what it is to be used for. I have no personal mythologies or philosophies, or any connection to any movements,” he said.
Winston has always used his music as a way of making emotional connections — and of making a difference. He’s released a CD as a benefit for people affected by 9/11 and soundtracks for children’s films — a dozen albums in all, tributes to his enthusiasm for music and community-building.
Today Winston focuses on live performances that highlight his interest in slow dance songs and New Orleans-style R&B. Winston has been influenced by jazz greats such as Fats Waller and Teddy Wilson and classic rock bands like The Doors.
Winston is primarily an interpreter — he composes only one or two songs a year and prizes the way the sustained sound of the piano comes through in melodically unadorned renditions. In fact, Winston approaches the piano as a sort of self-contained band, with the left hand providing the bass and rhythm and the right hand the lead vocals and rhythmic embellishment. The whole sound evokes the drummer.
Winston declines labels. “I just play the songs the best I can, inspired by the seasons and the topographies and regions, and, occasionally, by sociological elements, and try to improve as a player over time,” he said.
Winston’s performance begins at 7 p.m. He returns to the Methow fresh from a concert at Nordstrom Recital Hall at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall. Tickets are $25 at www.brownpapertickets.com and $30 at the door.
The concert will benefit The Cove food bank.