Victor Wainwright, the twenty something singer, pianist, “hepcat” from Memphis by way of the Peach State; creates powerhouse blues and roots rock by playing his own unique style of boogie piana’. He effortlessly pays frequent homage to past music greats, while simultaneously adding his own youthful excitement. He's a raucous high-octane dynamic performer and crowd pleaser with soul to spare. After earning what he calls a "double major in Boogie, a Ph.D. in Swing and a master's in Rhythm," the "Piana' from Savannah" is undoubtedly making a name for himself in a big way.
Stephen Dees is a rock n' roll aficionado, touring and-or recording as bassist and vocalist for Hall and Oates, Todd Rundgren, Pat Travers, and Foghat to name a few. He was a Billboard and MTV char-tee with his band Novo Combo, and has received great acclaim for his original pop band "Bandees." Currently, Dees is the producer, writer, bassist and backup vocalist for the WildRoots.
The boogie blues "piana" player and savvy pop-rocker met up six years ago in Ormond Beach FL, where they were both on the bill of a benefit concert. Very impressed after hearing each other perform and finding that they had a common love for early rhythm and blues and rock 'n' roll music that came out of the '50s and 60's, such as Ray Charles, B.B. King, James Brown, Otis Redding, Al Green, Muddy Waters, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard; they discussed the possibility of collaborating on an original recording project; paying homage to their rock 'n' rhythm roots. Dees agreed to produce and co-write what would become Wainwright's 2005 release, "Piana from Savannah". "...it's hard to follow the speed limit while this one's playing... Pine Top Perkins would be proud." [Backstage Pass Magazine]
For the project, blues-rock guitarist Greg Gumpel, a friend and band mate of Victor's since 2002, was a perfect fit for the band. Now also a Memphis resident, Gumpel has become renowned for his wild phrasing and fluid fusion of electric blues and genuine rock 'n roll guitar. Greg says, "When I play blues, I like to think a little outside the box, get a little wild, while still trying to pay tribute to the founding fathers of blues guitar."
Drummer Brian Kelly, an accomplished jazz / new age composer and also roots rhythm powerhouse, hails as the backbone of The WildRoots. Having worked with Dees in the recent past, the two had met playing in a progressive rock band and from the very first note; knew there was an instant rhythm connection. "Brian is refined, intricate and explosive all at the same time.”
After the release of the “Piana’ from Savannah” CD and some outstanding live performances they knew they had something special and decided to forge a more enduring working relationship. Victor Wainwright and the WildRoots were born.
Their debut CD, "Beale Street to the Bayou," is set to release in September 2009. The music is a departure from the more traditional blues and boogie of Wainwright's "Piana" CD. This project lyrically and musically speaks to a broader contemporary audience, while its soul remains anchored in the roots music that continues to inspire.
Victor Wainwright and the WildRoots
Victor 'Piana' Wainwright: Lead vocals, piano, organ
Stephen 'Cat Daddy' Dees: Bass, guitar, vocals, percussion
Greg 'Six String' Gumpel: Guitar, mandolin, banjo, vocals
Brian 'Machine Gunn' Kelly: Drums, percussion
The band performs as a four piece up to a seven piece with 'extended roots' members:
Patricia Ann Dees: Vocals, saxophone, keys, harmonica, bass
Ray Guiser: Saxophone, keys
Alberto Cruz: Congas, Percussion