In anticipation of Hoppy Holidays, I will be counting down the top five keyboardists whom have had the most influence on my playing. I’ll post a different artist every few days between now and the first day of Hoppy Holidays: Friday, December 10th. I am often asked to name the most influential keyboardists in my life. I usually just rattle off my favorites from then and now, but I wanted to really take a look at who influenced my playing. I didn’t want to select just keyboard players that I admire and study, but those that have made an impact on my performance and writing. So I scanned my iTunes library and dug up my old cassettes from the basement and this is what it came down to…
#2: Bill Payne
Growing up, I would hear music wafting down the staircase from my brother’s super cool attic bedroom. And although my family was primarily a Beatles/Simon & Garfunkel institution, he was playing some new music that peeked my interest. It had great feel and less-predictable song forms. So I started digging into Little Feat myself. I remember spending hours listening to Waiting For Columbus, especially “Dixie Chicken.” I loved the breakdown with the horn section and Bill’s solo moment there is awesome. The whole concept of laying-down time with the left hand, while freeing up the right for improvisation, was new to me. I guess I had never really heard much ragtime/New Orleans-style music before, so the concept of a “one man band” was inspirational. And Bill uses the whole piano as a canvas. From his high percussion-type splashes to super low bombs, Bill taught me that piano is a percussion instrument in every sense of the word. At times, I still struggle to get out of my three- or four-octave safe zone. It is always refreshing to watch or listen to Bill play. He is the catalyst for me to stretch out of my comfort zone, which is always good.
Hoppy Holidays 12/10 Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom | Denver, CO – KHB feat. DJ Logic & Liza Oxnard w/The Nu Classics plus signature beer by Kyle and Boulder Beer 12/11 Hodi’s Half Note | Fort Collins, CO – KHB feat. DJ Logic & Liza Oxnard w/the Nu Classics plus signature beer by Kyle and Boulder Beer 12/12 Avery Brewing Co. | Boulder, CO – KHB plus signature beer by Kyle and Avery Brewing and much, much, more! – SOLD OUT!