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A Conversation With David Vest



David Vest is an original Boogie-woogie piano player who’s been rockin’ the blues since 1957. He’s played with a who’s who of blues musicians over the years. David’s a five-time winner of Canada's national Maple Blues Award for Piano Player of the Year and is well known for his songwriting mastery.


Ken Wallis interviewed David for the radio show Blues Source Canada. The following are edited excerpts from that interview.




Ken Wallis David Vest has a couple of new releases out and joining us to tell us all about them is David Vest. David thanks for coming on the show.


David Vest

Thanks for having me Ken, it's good to be here.


Ken Wallis

It's amazing, artists are putting out CD's and albums right now that things are lifting, but you scooped everybody. You've released two albums.

David Vest

Yeah. I don't know what came over me to do that. It turned out that these two had been recorded and then I discussed with the record company should we put one or the other out?


They liked them both and they're so different that the label thought they wouldn't really compete with each other, so one of them is Live At The Calgary International Blues Festival where my band was joined by the great Peter Dammann from Portland Oregon, my old band mate from the Paul deLay Band. He's a Chicago-born blues guitar legend, and then the other is recorded at my home-base here in Victoria, B.C. at Hermann’s Jazz Club where I’ve played every month since about 2014. It's the oldest continuously operating jazz club I believe in Canada. They have a lot of blues too, been going over 40 years now so they had a tough time during the pandemic, but they kept it going. I wanted to spread the word about Hermann’s, that it was still there. It's a legendary place, many Canadian jazz artists and blues artists have played. It has wonderful sound and great ambience.


Ken Wallis

David you're well known as a great boogie-woogie player. You just love playing the piano, but you're also an accomplished songwriter. How do you go about creating your music?


David Vest

Well mainly it's just showing up at the piano, or at the computer. I write with a computer now. I used to write with a pencil and a flare pen on a legal pad but I lost so many songs that way. I can't keep up with where I put them all sometimes. The melody comes first, sometimes the words come first, sometimes it just pops into my head, or it seems to be fully formed other times. I think I’ve written something original and it turns out that I haven't, and I find that I’m echoing something I heard a long time ago. William Price Fox has a book called Ruby Red about a Nashville songwriter who gets all excited about this new thing he's written, and he calls the record company and they come over to the cheap motel where he's staying and as they're getting out of the car, he realizes that what he had written was the Salem cigarette commercial.


Ken Wallis

You've been quoted as saying that you're going to keep performing as long as the flavour lasts. What's the flavour David ? What are you trying to say to us ?


David Vest

Well as long as I feel that connection with audiences, and my fingers are still working, and my bones will carry me onto the stage and send me out to the piano. That's something

Jimmy "T99" Nelson used to say to us. We'd go on stage at a festival, maybe backstage we'd say, how long are we going to play Jimmy and he'd say as long as the flavour lasts.

Ken Wallis

You've been tearing it up on tour; you're performing a lot and you're headed out to Ontario soon.Tell us where you're going to be appearing and what that's all about.


David Vest

On May the 20th I’ll be at the Gibson Centre in New Tecumseh, Ontario, that's up by Alliston I understand, and the great Teddy Leonard is going to be playing guitar with me there. It's a show that Erin McCallum has put together and it's called The World Class Blues Series, and it looks like a great series. I wish I could be there for all of it; Chris Whiteley and Diana Brethwaite on the Saturday, and Erin on Sunday.


Ken Wallis

And you're kicking the whole thing off on the Friday. And I understand you're also going to be performing in Kitchener as well.


David Vest

Yeah, I'm going over to Kitchener. The Kitchener Blues Festival has this kind of kick-off event and it'll be at a place called Bobby O’Brien’s, and I’ll be the headliner there. There's another band playing before us, I’m not sure who it is, but I’m sure they'll be good if they're playing for the Blues Festival. We’ll be on about 9 00 p.m on Saturday May 21st.


Ken Wallis

I've just got to ask one question, You've performed with a multitude of blues legends, is there one artist that stands out for you that you enjoyed playing with the most ?


David Vest

I think it would have to be Jimmy "T99" Nelson. Just the way that man would summon up the power and his character as a person. What a lot of people don't understand about the blues is that the creators of the blues were people of high character. Jimmy "T99" Nelson would not allow you to gossip about another person in his presence. He'd say let's wait till he's here. I tried to tell this little off-colour story about a female blues singer one time and he stopped me in my tracks. He said that's my sister, he just modelled the way a man ought to behave.


Ken Wallis

That's amazing. Again, the two albums are Live At Hermann's and Live In Calgary. David where can blues fans get a hold of these albums ?


David Vest

Well, they can come to my website and they get a link to my record company, Cordova Bay Records. They’ll ship them out and that's the cheapest place to get them. They're also available on Amazon.com and other places and you can stream them if you're into that; Apple Music and Spotify and all those places have them, but I would go right to the record company, to the source. So come to davidvest.ca and you click on there and it'll take you to the best prices you'll find anywhere for this music.


Ken Wallis

They're great albums with great performances. David thank you so much for joining us. I really appreciate your time


David Vest

Thanks Ken and thanks for all you do to help keep the blues alive.





Website: davidvest.ca

Facebook: www.facebook.com/davidvestmusic

Twitter: twitter.com/davidvest

Instagram: www.instagram.com/davidvestmusic