PORT HARDY—After a long off-season, the North Island Concert Society is ready to boogie-woogie again.
Acclaimed jazz pianist and vocalist Michael Kaeshammer takes the Civic Centre stage Saturday at 7:30 p.m. to kick off the 2014-15 season, the 17th for NICS. The German-born, Canadian-bred performer brings a pop sensibility to a wide range of styles, but you can always count on a dose of his original influence — boogie-woogie and New Orleans-style jazz.
This is not the first North Island appearance for Kaeshammer, who appeared more than a decade ago as a young, up-and-coming wunderkind of the keys. It will be his first concert in the Civic Centre, though, as the fledgling concert society was still putting on shows in the secondary school gym in those days.
“Now, we’re getting him as a mature, established performer,” NICS co-founder and board member Malcolm Fleeton said.
At that time, Kaeshammer was living and performing on Vancouver Island and had a single solo album out.
Since that visit, the composer, arranger and songwriter has released six acclaimed CD’s — the latest is 2011’s eponymous Kaeshammer — and is in the process of crowd-sourcing funding for a new album featuring 10 original compositions.
Which means, for North Island patrons, new music to go along with the diverse mix of originals, traditionals, standards and covers Kaeshammer may choose to unveil on a given night.
As with many of NICS’s most popular acts over the years, Kaeshammer promises to deliver a range of styles, from old-school jazz to soul, pop and R&B. All of this is delivered with not only technical virtuosity, but with a sense of showmanship tailored to his audience and designed to draw it into the show, rather than keep patrons arms-length viewers.
“If you haven’t seen him live, you haven’t really experienced him in his true element,” Montreal Gazette writer Bernard Perusse wrote in a review of a Kaeshammer show.
Familiar, accessible music will help draw you in — his instrumental remake of the Impressions’ People Get Ready, a big crowd-pleaser when the Sojourners appeared here two seasons ago — is a staple of his live shows. And he has a particular affinity for Robert Palmer’s funkified Sneakin’ Through the Alley with Sally.
But when Kaesh-ammer unleashes his full arsenal, you might just find you no longer care which song is coming up next. As long as they keep coming.
Tickets for Saturday’s show are $25 and are available in advance at Port Hardy Museum and Cafe Guido in Port Hardy, at The Flower Shoppe in Port McNeill, and in Port Alice by calling Gail Neely at 250-284-3927.
Individual and season tickets for the five-concert season will also be available at the door, with season tickets — including the annual dinner show — for $130 or $110 for seniors and $75 for students to age 17.
For more information call NICS chair Brian Hicks at 250-902-2228 or visit www.niconcert.ca.