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Posted: September 19, 2019

Two-time Juno winner coming to Key City

Michael Kaeshammer — pianist, vocalist, composer, arranger and producer — is taking the stage with his band in Cranbrook on Wednesday, October 2, to play his beloved jazz and boogie-woogie.

Known for his silky voice and keyboard chops, Kaeshammer will be performing at Key City Theatre at 7:30 p.m.

“I think jazz is just a vehicle to play music,” Kaeshammer said. “I just kept going for it.” Kaeshammer, 42, began his life in the small town of Offenburg, Germany. It was there he learned how to play the piano and first got into jazz. His father often listened to pre-1950s jazz, such as Louis Armstrong, which started a fire in Kaeshammer’s belly for all things jazz. He grew especially interested in boogie-woogie because of its rhythm and energy. Boogie-woogie is a genre of blues that became popular in the ’20s and is played on the piano with a fast and strong beat.

“To this day, it’s one of my favourite things to play,” Kaeshammer said.

Listening to boogie-woogie legends like Albert Ammons and Pete Johnson, Kaeshammer trained on the piano continuously, mainly because he liked it. His father also offered his support by giving him plenty of constructive criticism.

“You’re always 12 in your dad’s eyes,” Kaeshammer said. “He just always wants to feel involved.”

At the age of 18, Kaeshammer moved to Canada with his family. He knew a bit of English from school, but it took a few conversations before he got the hang of it.

“I remember coming here and going through a drive-thru,” he said. “I couldn’t understand what the girl said.”

The good news, however, was that jazz was thriving here in Canada. Kaeshammer toured around Vancouver Island and noticed how many piano players were able to make money at the clubs, something he hadn’t seen in Germany. This led him to become a professional musician.

Over the next 20 years, he worked his way from small-time clubs to sizeable concerts and festivals. “I always followed what came next.”

Kaeshammer is a seven-time JUNO nominee with two wins and has released 11 albums. He has toured around the world, including China where he played at Canada House during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The best compliments he gets are praise from people who aren’t blues or jazz fans. Kaeshammer said jazz is such a broad category that those who don’t like jazz have simply not listened to the right kind. His most recent album, No Filter, was released in September 2016.

Thanks to recent technology, he was able to take a different approach with this album and record right out of his own home in Vancouver. This ease of access allowed him to be more spontaneous with what he recorded, which is why he dubbed the album No Filter.

“You have a lot of freedom,” Kaeshammer said. “Technology is fantastic. At the same time, it can tie your hands.”

He added technology has the ability to manipulate everything in music, with AutoTune being the best example, and that while this can be a great tool, it is often overused in the industry. “The artist is a producer more than an artist.”

Currently living without a cellphone, Kaeshammer said he tries not to let technology control the way he does things. He is also trying to cut back on touring because of his dislike of flying.

Still, he plans to release two more albums within the next few years and go back on another tour. He is particularly fond of playing smaller locales and places that attract a like-minded audience who will be receptive to his music.

“You’re kind of bringing the whole town together.”

Tickets are available at the Key City Theatre Box Office and online.

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