Victor Wainwright was born in Savannah. He attended college in Daytona and moved to Memphis where he was employed during the day as an Air Traffic Controller at Memphis International Airport. At night Wainwright honed his piano skills in the clubs along Beale Street. He met bassist Stephen Dees in 2004. Wainwright released his first recording “Piana from Savannah”, on the Wildroots imprint, in 2005. It was produced by Dees who also became his writing partner. In 2009 Victor Wainwright & The Wildroots released “Beale Street to the Bayou”; and followed up with 2011’s “Lit Up!” which garnered Wainwright his first Blues Music Award nomination. The Wildroots followed-up with their best album, “Boom Town”, in 2015. Overall Wainwright has seven BMA’s winning five times for “Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year”; and winning for both “Entertainer of the Year”, and “Band of the Year” in 2016.
These never before released tracks include the “core” band of Wainwright, piano, organ and lead vocals; Stephen Dees, bass, guitars, lead and background vocals; Patricia Ann Dees, lead and background vocals, sax and flute; Charlie DeChant, saxophones; Stephen Kampa, harmonica; and Billy Dean, drums. At times the Wildroots also included vocalist Nick Black; saxophonist Ray Guiser; and drummer Aberto Cruz. These were laid back sessions as twenty-three additional guests are also featured including seven more vocalists.
The album opens with the Eddie Floyd/Steve Cropper written “634-5789”, a #1 single for Wilson Pickett in 1966; it is performed here as a duet between Wainwright and Patricia. This album is dedicated to the memory of Eddie Zyne who plays drums on the track. The only other cover is the Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller written “Santa Claus is Back in Town” first recorded by Elvis Presley in 1965, with Wainwright taking the lead vocal.
Fourteen more songs are originals written or co-written by Stephen Dees. Patricia sings lead on three additional tracks including “Move Along Part 1”. Billy Livesay sings on “Something in the Water 2020”. Additional highlights include John Oates singing and playing rhythm guitar on “Our Last Goodbye”; vocalist Black stepping upfront on “Memphis Queen”, and Stephen Dees taking his turn on “Square”. Robert “Top” Thomas sings and plays guitar on “King Snake Crawl Revisited”.
The album documents these thoroughly enjoyable, fine and friendly sessions. Hopefully there are many more good times ahead.
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