The prolific singer, songwriter, pianist, producer Michael Kaeshammer doesn’t have to travel too far for his next performance.
Best known for his jazz and boogie-woogie styles, Kaeshammer will be gracing the Mary Winspear Centre on May 31 and June 1, showcasing songs written partly on the road and from his home in North Saanich.
“I’m so used to going on a plane and going on the road for two weeks,” says Kaeshammer. “This is so convenient; it’s basically like I’m playing at home.”
Originally from Germany, Kaeshammer moved to British Columbia with his family in 1995. Since then he’s travelled and toured the world for professional and development purposes; but he’s spent the last few years back on Vancouver Island.
Not surprisingly, his local abode holds a couple pianos, a drum kit and “a whole whack of percussion instruments,” but what is surprising is his piano of choice. Kaeshammer explains that when other musicians come to visit they’re slightly shocked by the Kawai grand piano he plays on.
“It’s not the best quality, but this is the piano I grew up on. I feel so familiar with this instrument, it doesn’t matter how good or bad it is; it’s the piano I learned on for classical lessons when I was seven or eight years old,” he says. “I’ve spent more time sitting at this thing than anything I’ve ever known in my life – it’s like an old friend.”
It’s on this piano that Kaeshammer worked on his latest album No Filter.
“It was my eleventh album and I’ve gone through some interesting times with major labels and management. So my last two records, which I recorded at the same time, I approached completely different; as in, only worrying about satisfying my creative interests, really, not worrying about pleasing anyone other than myself.”
Kaeshammer’s approach to music, jazz in particular, might come across as nontraditional. He says he writes about what he knows, himself; and what he’s interested in, world issues. He keeps the “baby I love you’s” and “ooh baby’s” to a minimum.
“I think the world’s in a crazy era right now and so for this new record … I talk about issues … between politics and government and technology taking over peoples’ lives.”
His lifestyle on the Peninsula allows him to disconnect and avoid distraction from the outside world to reflect on these things. Kaeshammer says he doesn’t have a cell phone. When he’s not making music, he enjoys being in nature and gardening. He also has a keen interest in cooking.
“It’s about taking ingredients and improvising on what the final product is.”
Kaeshammer takes the same approach to his performances. He doesn’t follow a strict set list, unlike many other musicians; he follows what he feels and what he thinks the crowd feels at the moment.
“For me, going on stage has to be a deeper meaning than just playing a bunch of songs. You have to connect with the people,” he says. “You can only connect when you play not from the brain, but from a feeling.”
Kaeshammer and his band start at 7:30 p.m at the Charlie White Theatre. Tickets are $49.35. For more, visit marywinspear.ca or call 250-656-0275.