Victor Wainwright Brings the Train to Funk ‘n Waffles

“The blues was bleeding the same blood as me. The blues didn’t have to explain the mystery of pain that I felt; it was there in the songs and voices of singers like Lonnie Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson, in the cries of their guitars.”

B.B. King, Blues All Around Me: The Autobiography of B.B. King

Attention, passengers. This is your conductor speaking. Victor Wainwright and The Train is about to leave the station. Please stand clear of the Boogie Woogie and enjoy the ride.

Four-time BMA Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year winner (‘13,’14,’17,‘18) and BMA BB King Entertainer & Band of the Year recipient (‘16), Victor Wainwright sets out on his new endeavor, Victor Wainwright and the Train. The 12-track, band-titled album not only pays homage to the Blues, but also is a full-fledged attack on the music industry – a rebirth of the genre.

Wainwright is an entertainer – period. “Musicality and the songs themself are second,” said Wainwright. Growing up, Victor idolized BB King. “Seeing King for the first time changed my life! When I watched him, right away I could put my finger on exactly what IT was.” Sheer musical talent and technical skills on stage can only be admired by musicians and artist alike. For the lay listener it is about seeing a great show. They want to be entertained.

“Artists need to take up the mantle and use Blues as a tool to see past the 1-4-5 (a rudimental chord progression) of a guy sitting on a porch, singing about his dog,” said Wainwright. “I want to invite people in and get them to be apart of this community. It needs younger people to keep it alive.”

As the highly anticipated Funk ‘n Waffles shows in Syracuse and Rochester approach later this week, diehards and Blues-fans-to-be will have their hands full. The steam train will take flight at Funk ‘n Waffles Downtown in Syracuse, Friday July 6. Showtime *8 pm (corrected from 6pm). And carry on Saturday July 7 at Funk ‘n Waffles Music Hall in Rochester, NY, beginning at 8 pm also. Tickets: $15. (advance), $20. (door). Info: (585) 448-0354 or visit https://www.funknwaffles.com/

Musically people haven’t seen anything like this before. It touches on new and exciting, while being familiar and honoring the Blues,” said Wainwright. Victor hinted at a few surprises that will be in store for these gigs including more original music, familiar tunes from your childhood and songs outside the normal Blues repertoire. In addition, Doug Woolverton, who played on the record, will be joining the Train for these Funk ‘n Waffles dates. “Laughter is a huge part of our show. When people are laughing with you, in combination with slow songs, sung from the heart – it becomes a super powerful combo!”

The record is a testament, backing the mountain of Wainwright’s accomplishments. It is a stout stew of Boogie Woogie, Blues, Rock ’n Roll, wailing horns and free-flowing expression from the drums, keys and bass. The opening track, “Healing” leaves no time for thought. In-your-face stride piano reverberates, before the track takes off in up-tempo eighth-notes topped with Wainwrights soaring voice. The Train is alive.

Not only did Wainwright compose all of the record, but also produced it himself, with the help of Dave Gross in New Jersey. “What I tried to convey is power. Not in a Marvel comic book sense, but in the form of passion,” said Wainwright. “Exactly like a steam train.” All of the overwhelming energy captured on stage is heard on tape. The band feeds off each other collectively in the studio, achieving something monumental.

“Wiltshire Grave” has a spooky, New Orleans second-line feel, featuring Pat Harrington on guitar. The tune lingers, allowing you to digest the beauty in each instrument. The raging horns punch through making way for sweeping keyboard licks and an edgy solo guitar. The track also features off-the-cuff percussion effects such as a baseball bat and bicycle bell. All listeners are stopped dead in their tracks. Likewise, “Money” sits back in the pocket, relatable in message – warranting payment to Uncle Sam without delay. Let’s hope he can catch the up-tempo localmotive.

Notably, the album pays a direct tribute to Wainwright’s idol, BB King, in “Thank you Lucille.” For Victor, “some things deserve to be said as directly as possible.” Upon hearing of King’s passing, Wainwright rushed to the side of the road. His world came to a complete halt. “Lucille is a deity. King talks to her like it is human. I almost felt said for her,” said Wainwright. “She will live on!”

Victor Wainwright and the Train was released March 9, 2018 and quickly topped the National Roots Music Report charts for Blues in April. It now sits sixth in the Top 50.