George Benson can't wait to play the Blues
AFTER 55 years in music, American guitar artist George Benson has seen it all, except the Bluesfest Byron Bay stage - a festival he will be part of for the first time in 2020.
A former child prodigy, Benson first came to prominence in the 1960s, playing soul jazz with Jack McDuff and others. He then launched a successful solo career, playing jazz, pop, R&B singing, and scat singing.
He has won 10 Grammys, including Record of the Year in 1977 for This Masquerade.
After releasing timeless classic such as On Broadway, Breezin' , Give Me The Night, In Your Eyes and romantic superballad Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You, Benson is preparing to mix his hits with some blues at his Bluesfest show, his first Australian gigs in three years.
Speaking from Arizona, Benson said he can't wait to play some blues music at the festival.
"We know they came to hear On Broadway, and that's just one of many songs that we know we have to play, but -you know - we want to throw some blues in there too, and we won't be weighted down by it because we do blues they don't know us for, but I still have to play some songs they expect from a George Benson show," he said.
"It will be a combination, but I am glad I finally get a chance to play some blues!"
Benson said the band will include six musicians plus two backing singers.
"I'll be bringing my band, and they are very flexible, they can play anything and they have been with me a long time," he said.
"They don't know exactly what I'm going to play next, because I don't know what I'm going to play next. I decide that when I get there and I read the crowd and the environment."
The show will also include some songs from his latest release, Walking to New Orleans, his 37th album, launched last April, a tribute to pianist Fats Domino and guitarist Chuck Berry, with classics such as Nadine (Is It You), Ain't That a Shame, Rockin' Chair, You Can't Catch Me and Havana Moon.
"It wasn't my idea; it was an idea by the president of the record company I joined in Europe (called Provogue)," Benson said.
"It was quite a challenge. I can't be Fats Domino or Chuck Berry, but I can remind people how great of an artist he was, one of the great of our era, and that makes it satisfying for me."
- At Bluesfest 2020, Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, April 9 to 13, 2020. Visit bluesfest.com.au for details.