Famed keyboardist Wynans to play at Blues from the Top
June 6, 2014
Ever heard of Stevie Ray Vaughn or Jerry Jeff Walker? How about Carole King, Duane Allman or Brooks & Dunn? Keyboardist Reese Wynans has played with all of them. And after four decades of performing, the keyboardist still prefers to stay in the background.
“I’m not really a solo artist,” he said. “I’ve always been more comfortable performing with a band.”
He’ll make two appearances in Colorado this summer, playing with The Healers at Grand County’s Blues from the Top Festival the last weekend in June and joining Blues-rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa at Red Rocks on August 31st. Wynans is looking forward to his performance in Winter Park.
“It’s really different from playing in the studio or clubs around Nashville,” he said. “I compare it to a club with no walls. You can look out at the Rocky Mountains and see the snowy peaks all around you. It’s great to be in a natural environment.”
“There’s nothing worse to me than Blues music that doesn’t mean anything. There has to be truth in what we play.”
Wynans was five when he and his six siblings started taking piano lessons.
“We weren’t really a musical family,” he said. “My grandmother played the piano at church, and my father played at the house occasionally. I was the only one who really showed any interest.”
Wynans followed that interest through high school and into college, deciding to major in music at Florida State University. But he left after just two years.
“I decided I already knew everything,” he said, laughing. “My family wasn’t too happy about that.”
But the young keyboardist had already made some solid connections in the local music scene, and started jamming with a band called “The Second Coming.”
“I knew Dickey Betts, Larry Reinhardt and a lot of the people who went on to form the Allman Brothers in the late 1960s,” Wynans said. “Duane Allman used to come down to Jacksonville for their house gig on Friday and Saturday nights. On Sundays, they would do free jam sessions in the park. “
When the Allman Brothers formed, Wynans didn’t make the final cut. “Gregg Allman was playing the keyboards already,” he said.
So Wynans hit the road, traveling across the country with show bands.
“We’d go from state to state, and play clubs for a month or so,” he said. “It was fun, but after a while I got tired of traveling.”
Wynans relocated to Austin, Texas, eventually playing and touring with singer-songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker.
“We headlined shows all over the country,” said Wynans. “It was really great playing with so many different Blues bands in the ‘70s and 80s.”
Wynans immersed himself in the Blues scene, collaborating on four albums with guitarist and songwriter Delbert McClinton. In 1985, his hard work paid off, with a call from Stevie Ray Vaughn and his band, Double Trouble.
“They hired me, and I played with the band for five years” Wynans said. “We did CD compilations, played a bunch of TV shows and performed all over the country. It was a terrific experience.”
Vaughn was killed in a helicopter crash in 1990. Two years later, Wynans moved to Nashville, where he currently works as a studio musician, but still tours from time to time.
When he’s playing, Wynans just wants the music to flow through him. He’s looking for something heartfelt, something real.
“There’s nothing worse to me than Blues music that doesn’t mean anything,” said Wynans. “There has to be truth in what we play.”