Here’s some more Canada Day CanCon, courtesy of singer-pianist Michael Kaeshammer. Recently, the veteran performer showcased his new Live in Concert album and DVD on these pages. You can learn more about that HERE. And you can learn more about the man himself below, as he patiently puts up with my goofy questions.
Introduce yourself: Name, age (feel free to lie), home base, other details you’d like to share (height, weight, identifying marks, astrology sign, your choice).
Michael Kaeshammer, 43-year-old pianist and singer from British Columbia.
What is your musical origin story?
I started to play classical piano in Germany as a five year old while growing up with my father’s jazz record collection and his ragtime piano playing around the house at the same time.
What do we need to know about your latest project?
The latest project Live In Concert was recorded during the taping of an American Public Television special on Vancouver Island last summer, featuring very special guests Randy Bachman, Colin James, and Curtis Salgado, alongside a wonderful band consisting of New Orleans drum legend Johnny Vidacovich and bassist extraordinaire David Piltch. Hosting all these musicians and sharing the experience with my local audience was a special event for me and I’m glad we captured it on this live recording.
What truly sets you apart from other artists?
I don’t worry much about trends or what I think someone wants to hear from me. I let all the styles that mean something to me influence my writing, singing and playing. Some people pigeonhole it as jazz, blues, jazz crossover, or other names. For me it’s just my music. It’s upbeat and positive because I love life and music more than anything else.
What will I learn or how will my life improve by listening to your music?
As mentioned above, my positive outlook on life is what I want to reflect in my music and convey to an audience.
Tell us about the first song you wrote and / or the first gig you played and what you got paid.
The first gig I played was in my hometown of Offenburg, Germany. My father took me to see a local boogie-woogie pianist play. I thought I was better than him so I inquired at the club who books the room and got my own show there.
What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you gave?
The most memorable performance for me was the Opening Ceremony for the 2010 Paralympics in Vancouver with a big band. Being close to the roof of the stadium hearing the band roar through the venue was a memorable experience.
What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you’ve seen another artist give?
I went to see a the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra perform alongside a jazz artist for one of their pops series concerts. Being close to the front gave me a great view of one of the violin players sleeping through the whole performance. This musician sleeping through the show was more entertaining than the rest of the show and definitely makes me smile to this day.
What do you want to be doing in 10 years?
The same thing I’m doing now: Writing and recording music and taking it around the world to make audiences feel good and show them how positive I feel about life.
What living or dead artists would you collaborate with if you could?
Elvis Presley. Or Ludwig Van Beethoven.
What artist or style of music do you love that would surprise people?
AC/DC is still one of my favourite bands since my childhood.
How about some other favourites: Authors, movies, painters, you name it.
Authors: Ernest Hemingway, Mordecai Richler, Margaret Atwood, Charles Bukowski.
Painters: Franz Marc.
Who would you be starstruck to meet?
Elvis Presley and Ludwig Van Beethoven. Especially if they were hanging out together.
What’s your favourite joke?
So many drummers, so little time.
What superpower do you want and how would you use it?
Beaming myself from one place to the other. I hate flying but love touring.
What skills — useful or useless — do you have outside of music?
Being creative in the kitchen and creating new recipes from fresh ingredients.
What do you collect?
Books and records.
If I had a potluck, what would you bring?
Homemade pasta with homemade pesto from the garden. Something that can be eaten as an appetizer or a main course.
If you could have any other job besides music, what would it be and why?
Cooking and food are as much a passion for me as music. If I wouldn’t make music for a living I would cook and open my own restaurant.
What’s the best advice you were ever given?
It was while performing with New Orleans R&B singer Marva Wright at Storyville on Bourbon Street. She made me realize that there has to be a deeper meaning to being in the same room with an audience and connecting with them. Being a good musician and having good songs is only the vehicle to get everyone in the room.