Boogie man Wainwright at The Stanhope House Thursday, Aug. 23
Victor Wainwright & the Train, The Stanhope House this Thursday
Stanhope — Fresh off winning the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player award at the 2018 Blues Music Awards in Memphis, colorful boogie-woogie blues pianist-vocalist Victor Wainwright continues his 2018 U.S./Canadian Tour in support of his new album Victor Wainwright & the Train (Ruf Records), with a local performance at The Stanhope House, 45 Main St., Thursday, August 23. Showtime: 9:30pm. Tickets: $15. (advance), $22. (door). Info: (973) 347-7777 or visit stanhopehousenj.com. It had to be a train. The name of Victor Wainwright's new band - and the sleeve image of their debut album - is also the most fitting of metaphors. In music folklore, the train might have associations with the freight-hopping bluesmen of yore, but with this restless boogie-woogie innovator stoking the furnace, this latest project is a charging locomotive - surging forward, crashing through boundaries of genre, sweeping up fresh sounds and clattering headlong past the doubters. As the man himself hollers in the ivory-pounding title track: "If you wanna boogie get aboard this train/Get yourself a ticket or get out of the way..." At a sweet-spot in his career, where most established stars would rest on their laurels, Victor Wainwright & The Train instead rips up all that has gone before. The twelve tracks are originals in every sense, written by Wainwright, pricking up ears in a sterile music industry and stretching the concept of roots in bold directions. "I wanted to write this new music mostly on my own," Wainwright explains, "as it was coming and speaking to me. I believe that for roots music to grow, and reach out to new audiences, we have to push it forward." The result is an album that walks a tightrope between scholarly respect and anarchic irreverence. You'll hear Wainwright twist boogie-woogie tradition on barrelhouse thrillers like "Healing" and "Boogie Depression," both driven by his visceral piano style. But you'll also hear him fearlessly explore the gamut of genre, from the Latin flavours and New Orleans horns of "Wiltshire Grave," to the mellow near-psychedelia of "Sunshine." It's a musical cocktail served up by Wainwright's inimitable gravel-flecked vocal. In truth, Wainwright has always been an artist that sets the pace. Born into a musical family in Savannah, Georgia, the formative influence of his father's vocals and grandfather's rolling boogie-woogie piano compelled him into a life of music. By 2005, he'd announced his talent with solo debut, Piana' From Savannah, while his central role in Southern Hospitality and partnership with Stephen Dees in WildRoots has seen him ignite stages and stereos for over a decade. Among his numerous accolades: In 2013 and 2014, Wainwright won the 'Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year' at the Blues Music Awards. Also in 2013, his collaborative album, Easy Livin' , made the Top 10 in the U.S. Billboard Top Blues Album Chart.