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

Caps fall to Clippers in Nanaimo on Friday night

Clippers’ tying and winning goals come in less than a minute

Cowichan school district approves women’s winter shelter

The Cowichan Valley School District’s board of education has approved in principle… Continue reading

North Cowichan is Canada’s hot spot on Wednesday

The Warmland lives up to its name

Ladysmith Secondary School improv still groovy after 20 years

Catch performances Nov. 15th, 16th, 17th and 22nd, 23rd and 24th

New Coast Guard radar boosts marine traffic monitoring off B.C. coast

Six radar installations set up for Georgia Strait to Queen Charlotte Strait to Prince Rupert

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Vancouver Island remembers

Important stories shared as Islanders salute those who made the greatest sacrifice

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

B.C. VIEWS: Setting speed limits in a post-fact political environment

Media prefer ‘speed kills’ narrative, even when it fails to appear

Controversy erupts over Japanese flag in B.C. classroom

Online petition demanding removal has collected more than 5,700 signatures

Death toll rises to 76 in California fire with winds ahead

Nearly 1,300 people remain unaccounted for more than a week after the fire began

Trump says report on Khashoggi death expected in a few days

Jamal Khashoggi was a columnist for The Washington Post who was slain Oct. 2 inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul

CUPW requests mediator as deadline for Canada Post offer expires without deal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in Saturday night with a last-minute plea to the two sides

Most Read