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Featured Artist of the Week: Wes Garland

Name: Wes Garland

Age: 43

Instrument: piano/organ/keyboards

Wes Garland is an ordinary guy by day, musician by night. Though he says he wishes he could just be a musician, Garland works as a software developer in downtown Kingston on a daily basis. On off-work hours, he jumps around from musical project to musical project, such as the Grateful Dead tribute band he's currently working with right now, but also plays regularly for the Limestone Jazz Collective and his main bar band, Dr. Bombay. In what little spare time he has, Garland is either working on advancing his musical skills, or gardening.

How and when did you discover your love of music?

When I was about eight, trying to play the piano in my church. No, maybe I was... I was about nine. But I didn’t get to start playing until I was in high school. That’s when I knew I wanted to play.

Is your family musical?

Nope. Which is why I started so late.

Are you an individual performer or are you part of a musical group?

I definitely prefer group performances. I like the interaction with other players and for me that brings a lot of the energy to what I’m doing.

What do you like about performing music?

I like interacting with other players and I like interacting with the audience and I like to entertain people. And to share what I like – or love.

What’s the biggest audience you’ve ever performed in front of?

I have no idea. Probably a couple hundred people.

Do you write your own music?

No. I’ve got a song writing credit on one thing and that was many, many years ago. It’s something I’ve been meaning to get back to. But, for now, thats not where I’m at. What I like is music that is heavy on interpretation and improvisation, which is why I like the jazz stuff.

What musicians have influenced your music?

That is a very big list. We can start with obvious influences like Count Basie (and) Duke Ellington. So, those are two of my big band piano guys that I look at… And of course, I love Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard… And then Garth Hudson – great Canadian organist that played with The Band for a long time. And then of course there's Neil Young from a folk rock point of view. He’s sort of my touch stone and also some of the heavier stuff that I like to do. Did I mention Jon Lord from Deep Purple? It’s an enormous list. And sometimes I don’t even know who it is that I’m influenced by. And a lot of the time my influences are actually the guys that I’m playing with.

What are you listening to right now?

I’m listening to the Grateful Dead. Like I said, it’s the new project. So, one of the things you have to do with a new project to get your head space in there, you just – I’ve always believed in total immersion… Whatever my active project is right now, that’s where almost all of my listening attention goes.

What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you on stage?

I came close to falling off a stage once. But I managed to never do that. I’ve never barfed on stage – I know guys who’ve done that. I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ve ever managed to actually be significantly embarrassed on stage. Part of that is because stuff like that doesn’t bother me... I guess I’m boring in that regard.

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