Grant Simpson playing Ladysmith house concert Nov. 27

Yukoner brings mix of stride piano, vaudeville, gypsy jazz and folk music to Ladysmith.

Grant Simpson is performing a house concert Tues.

Mix stride piano, vaudeville, gypsy jazz and folk music, and you’ve got Grant Simpson.

The Nanaimo-born singer who now calls the Yukon home will perform his unique blend of music during a house concert in Ladysmith Tues., Nov. 27 as part of the Home Routes circuit.

Born and raised in Nanaimo, Simpson has lived in Yukon for 25 years, and he spent he last three years living in a cabin with no running water, mushing sled dogs in the Yukon wilderness for fun when not on tour.

“Life in a cabin in the Yukon changed the way I look at a lot of things in life,” Simpson said by e-mail. “I moved the to cabin with my two kids and we downsized considerably in order to all fit into the cabin. It was a remarkable way to live, and we all fell in love with it … the lifestyle was wonderfully conducive to writing songs and living a creative life.”

Simpson says the only real downside was that the cabin was 30 miles out of town, so he couldn’t tour and leave his kids at the cabin to themselves, and they became very car-reliant. So, the family recently moved back into Whitehorse.

Simpson owns a vaudeville show called Frantic Follies Vaudeville Revue in Whitehorse that he says is the longest-running vaudeville show in history, as it is in its 44th year.

As a young boy, Simpson was “deeply immersed” in the study of stride piano, a style that he says came out of Harlem around 1910.

“Although most people don’t know what ‘stride piano’ is, many people have heard it,” says Simpson. “The Charleston, which is the song that marks the roaring 20s, was written by the father of stride piano, James P. Johnson.”

Simpson says Fats Waller was Johnson’s protege, and one day when Simpson was about 15, he was reading a biography on Waller and kept seeing references to all the time Waller and Johnson spent in vaudeville, and he decided he would like to be in vaudeville.

A few years later, Simpson was “starting to get to be an adequate stride piano player,” and he received a phone call from two guys in the Yukon who told him he should come up there and play piano in their vaudeville show.

Simpson performed in the Frantic Follies Vaudeville Revue for 16 years and then had the opportunity to buy half the company.

Recently, Simpson has been busy touring in support of his latest CD, Beneath the Yukon Moon, an album of original songs by Simpson and Kate Weekes.

“It is a blend of folk and swing, and the songs are stories of our experiences in the Yukon, China and across Canada,” said Simpson.

On this current tour, Simpson is joined by guitarist Don Ogilvie.

“Don is an outstanding specialist in gypsy jazz, and I am really excited about getting to play with him again,” said Simpson.

Simpson says his house concert will be a mix of stride piano, gypsy jazz and his original songs, “maybe even with a vaudeville song thrown in here and there to keep people on their toes.”

For more information about the concert, contact Jane Vincent at irish_janev@hotmail.com.

Just Posted

Ladysmith council dropping paper agenda packages

Town expects to save 50,000 sheets of paper a year by using tablets

EDITORIAL: Housing is one of our basic needs

We all need food, clothing and shelter first

First Nations leader to try for NDP nomination in Nanaimo-Ladysmith

Bob Chamberlin, vice-president of Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, announces intentions

CVRD sets tax increase for 2019 at 7.27%

New water and housing functions make up 3.52 % of increase

Premier makes surprise visit to Ladysmith Art Gallery

John Horgan does an informal meet and greet with Ladysmith arts and community leaders

After mosque attacks, New Zealand bans ‘military-style’ guns

The gunman killed 50 in a Christchurch mosque

Pot industry welcomes decreased edibles tax, but unhappy medical tax remains

Taxes can increase the cost of medical cannabis by as much as 25 per ceny

‘It has to send a message:’ Broncos families await sentencing for truck driver

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu pleaded guilty to 29 counts of dangerous driving and apologized in court

MPs continue voting marathon as Tories protest shutdown of Wilson-Raybould motion

Multiple MPs have resigned from Trudeau’s Liberal cabinet

Canucks hang on for 7-4 win over Senators

Horvat nets 2 for Vancouver

European, Canadian regulators to do own review of Boeing jet

Air Canada plans to remove the Boeing 737 Max from its schedule at least through July 1

Prime minister defends Liberal budget measures as sales effort gets underway

Conservatives under Andrew Scheer say it’s a spree funded by borrowing against the future

Mayor meets with B.C. health minister on homeless taxi transfers

Two homeless people were discharged from Surrey Memorial and sent to a Chilliwack shelter

B.C. lottery winner being sued by co-workers

They claim he owes them $200,000 each, in a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver

Most Read