Pianist Winston coming to Oconto Falls PAC

Musician developed unique ‘folk piano’ style

The Oconto Falls Friends of the Arts will present Grammy award-winning pianist George Winston as part of the 2016-2017 Fine Arts Series at 7 p.m. April 29 in the Falls Area Performing Art Center, 210 N. Farm Road, Oconto Falls.

Winston grew up mainly in Montana, and also spent his later formative years in Mississippi and Florida. During this time, his favorite music was instrumental rock and instrumental R&B, including Floyd Cramer, the Ventures, Booker T & The MG’s, Jimmy Smith and many more. Inspired by R&B, jazz, blues and rock (especially The Doors), Winston began playing organ in 1967.

In 1971 he switched to the acoustic piano after hearing recordings from the 1920s and the 1930s by the legendary stride pianists Thomas “Fats” Waller and the late Teddy Wilson. In addition to working on stride piano, he also came up with this own style of melodic instrumental music on solo piano, called folk piano.

In 1972, Winston recorded his first solo piano album, “Piano Solos,” for the late guitarist John Fahey’s Tacoma label. It was later reissued and renamed “Ballads and Blues 1972.”

Since 1980, he has released 10 other solo piano albums, beginning in quick succession with “Autumn” (1980), “Winter Into Spring” (1982) and “December” (1982). He won the Grammy award for Best New Age Album for his 1995 release, “Forest.”

His body of work also includes two volumes devoted to the music of Vince Guaraldi, the jazz pianist best known for the score of the Peanuts TV specials and the piano solo soundtrack for the children’s story “The Velveteen Rabbit.”

His latest album, “Spring Carousel: A Cancer Research Benefit,” was released in 2016.

Tickets are $40 and available online at www.ocontofallsfriendsofthearts.com All seats are reserved.

A special Steinway presentation by performance sponsors Neva Hodge Lemorande and Ursula Rathie will take place at 6:30 p.m.