Folk pianist George Winston brings NOLA inspiration to his concert at Hancock PAC on February 25.
- story by Lisa Monti
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Winston’s rural folk style is unique, but those who attend his Kiln concert will recognize the musical inspiration he draws from New Orleans R&B pianists Henry Butler, James Booker, Professor Longhair, Dr. John, Jon Cleary and his good friend, Allen Toussaint.
Winston has recorded 14 piano solo albums and has three awaiting release. His resume includes the solo piano soundtrack for “The Velveteen Rabbit” and the soundtrack for a Peanuts episode. The Kiln also audience can expect to hear some Vince Guaraldi-inspired Charlie Brown and gang pieces as well as Winston’s solo guitar and harmonica talents. He plays exclusively on Steinway pianos, and one is being brought in for the Kiln show.
Winston, a Montana native, has a Mississippi connection: he attended junior high in Jackson, and he has played at venues in Ocean Springs. “It’s great to get back there to Mississippi,” he said, calling the state “an island all its own. It’s definitely not Tennessee, Louisiana or Alabama.”
His upcoming local performance came about as “a happy accident,” according to Catherine Tibbs, HPAC coordinator. When Winston couldn’t get an Ocean Springs venue booked, his agent found the HPAC’s website and got in touch. Winston, Tibbs said, “likes going to new places because he’s played so many different venues.”
Winston said he’s “heard very good things” about the Hancock County facility which has 842 seats, state of the art equipment and brag-worthy acoustics and lighting. Proceeds from this concert will benefit the Hancock High School Education Foundation. Guests are encouraged to bring a donation of canned food to the concert to benefit the Hancock County Food Pantry.
Tibbs said the foundation supports Hancock High’s arts programs. “We have so many talented students in the district and the building was created for those underserved students. The proceeds will provide funding to purchase instruments, fund theatrical master classes to prepare the performers and to get the choir started up again.”
Tibbs is hoping for a good turnout for Winston’s performance “to show we have and appreciation for his music and we want him to return.”
Winston’s Hancock High performance will consist of two one-hour sets though he doesn’t yet have a set list. “I won’t know the song titles until that day or until I do it,” he said of his concert sets. “I have to really want to play the song. Otherwise, “I can’t do it.”
An evening with celebrated solo pianist
Monday, February 25 7-9 p.m.
Hancock Performing Arts Center
7140 Stennis Airport Drive, Kiln
General admission seating: $25
Tickets available through Eventbrite or the Hancock PAC Facebook Page
For more info, or help buying tickets, call (228) 255 6247