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David Vest

Like Otis Spann, Pinetop Perkins and other blues piano legends, David Vest spent a long time in the shadows as a sideman before stepping out on his own. Born in Alabama in 1943, David grew up in Birmingham, not far from Tuxedo Junction. He played his first paying gig in 1957. Half a century later, he finally saw one of his CDs (recorded as co-leader of the Paul deLay Band) make it into the Top 10 on Billboard's blues chart.

"I guess I missed the short cut," he says.

Maybe that's a good thing. Had David not taken the long route, he'd have missed performing with Big Joe Turner and with Bill Black's Combo in the early 1960s, touring with blues legends Jimmy T99 Nelson and Lavelle White, and receiving the direct "laying on of hands" from Texas piano titans like Floyd Dixon and Big Walter the Thunderbird. After one performance in a Houston juke joint, a woman David hadn't met threw her arms around him and shouted for all to hear, "My name is Katie Webster, and I knows it when I hears it!"

Once David began leading his own groups, audiences far and wide had a similar response. As one west coast night club manager put it, "Last month, we saw the first performance from David Vest at Jimmy Mak's. We knew very little of him, except that he was an old-school boogie-woogie pianist. Well folks, that was a massive understatement. David Vest is the Original Boogie-Woogie Starchild!"

David's obvious influences include Memphis Slim, Champion Jack Dupree, and Amos Milburn. Although he's a bluesman to the bone, his playing also reminds people of early Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis, which is probably inevitable given his origins. His style owes a little something to jazz icon Sun Ra, another Birmingham native.

A tireless advocate of Alabama's place in blues history, David also shares an unlikely connection with country legend Tammy Wynette. In fact, he occupies "a significant place in her story," according to her latest biographer, since he was "the first musician who recorded her and recognized her originality."

His years co-fronting the Paul deLay Band introduced him to legions of blues fan, especially in the Pacific northwest, and he has appeared at many major festivals, including Portland's Waterfront Blues Festival, Seattle's Bumbershoot, Baltimore Blues Festival, Edmonton Blues Festival, Sunbanks Blues Festival, Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival, Blues By the Sea, Ritzville Blues Festival, Juneteenth (Houston) and Jazz Fest (New Orleans). He holds a number of Muddy Awards (including "Best Keyboard Player") from the Cascade Blues Society.

His CDs include "East Meets Vest" (his latest), "Rock a While", "Way Down Here," "Serve Me Right to Shuffle," and "The Last of the Best" (with the Paul deLay Band).

David now makes his home in Canada (on Vancouver Island) and plans to keep on rockin' and shoutin' the blues "as long as the flavor lasts."

Upcoming Events for David Vest

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