Looking back over his decades-long career in music, there isn’t a heck of a lot the masterful Amos Garrett hasn’t done.
Fans will get a chance to catch up with the exemplary singer/guitarist when he performs with Julian Kerr Feb. 9th at the Elks Lodge, in a show presented by the Central Music Festival Society.
“This is the first time I’ll be in Red Deer with my latest project which really started about three years ago,” he explained during a recent chat. “It’s a duo with myself and Julian Kerr. I’ve known Julian for years and years, and he lives right around the corner from me and I’ve always wanted to work with him. But a lot of times, people are involved with other projects or they are members of a different band, so you just can’t have the opportunity to play together.”
Garrett’s last collaboration was a jazz trio that included Greg Carroll and the late Keith Smith.
Eventually, he teamed up with Kerr and the rest is rich musical history.
“He was available and I thought this is like a two-for-one sale – he’s about the best combo piano player and Hammond organ player. Very often I have found over the years that most keyboard players are either principally a piano player or an organ player. A brilliant piano player will be an average Hammond organ player or vice versa.
“Julian is maybe the only guy I know who is absolutely brilliant on both of them.
“So I rebuilt the ‘A team’ with Julian and it’s better than it’s ever been, with all respect to previous A team members. But Julian is a ‘horse of a different feature’ as my father used to say. He’s just a fabulous keyboard player and a very fine singer, too.”
As for Garrett, who was born in Detroit, raised in Toronto and Montreal and now calls Alberta home, he’s released about a dozen records over the years, mostly via the Edmonton-based label Stony Plain.
He has also appeared on more than 150 artists’ recordings. He’s played rock, folk and pop, not to mention just about every other kind of roots music out there from blues to country.
And he’s fond of hitting the stage with all kinds of folks too, from Paul Butterfield, Ian Tyson, Bonnie Raitt and Jesse Winchester to Maria Muldaur, Emmylou Harris, Bobby Charles and even Anne Murray.
Early influences run the gamut from Fats Domino and T-Bone Walker to B.B. King and dozens more at Montreal’s long-gone Esquire Club on Stanley Street.
His first major appearance was at Carnegie Hall with comedian and JFK imitator Vaugn Meader.
These days, he’s just extremely excited about teaming up with Kerr and can’t wait to hit the road to showcase what the duo has to offer.
He pointed out that the upcoming show is packed with all kinds of variety representing the best of primarily blues styles from over the years.
“The material is all blues-orientated. It’s also sort of a history of the blues when I think about it, but we don’t like to present it as an educational opportunity – we present it as entertainment. But the educational parts are kind of built in as a little bonus!
“We do swing-era blues, we do a couple of Duke Ellington blues compositions, we do some originals, we do some more retro Amos material that goes back a while, too.
“We also do Otis Rush, B.B. King – it’s blues and swing-era blues and jazz blues spanning about 100 years of blues history. And it’s a lot of fun. Julian and I also improv our song introductions every night and we both have the gift of gab so there is a lot of storytelling as well.”
For ticket information, check out www.centralmusicfest.com.