at the Shaw Auditorium, 60 Commercial Street, Nanaimo
Although he’s a Maple Blues Award winner who now lives in Canada, David Vest is an authentic, Southern-bred boogie-woogie piano player, blues shouter and world-class entertainer.
However, David has always had an ear for jazz – after all, ragtime and blues were the parents of jazz, so the connections are profound.
Who would have thought you could be a buzz act when you’re almost 70 years old? – Brian Blain, Toronto Blues Society
Born in Huntsville, Alabama in 1943, David grew up in Birmingham near Tuxedo Junction. He played his first paying gig in 1957, and by the time he opened for Roy Orbison on New Year’s Day 1962, he was a seasoned veteran of Gulf Coast roadhouses and honky-tonks. At the age of 17, David went on tour with Jerry Woodard and the Esquires, some of whom later became key members of the Muscle Shoals Swampers. He jammed with Ace Cannon, Bill Black’s Combo and the Jimmy Dorsey Band in clubs along the Florida Panhandle, where fellow Alabaman James Harman would soon make his mark.
An amazing pianist — rolls out the boogie like the players of old who’d tear up juke joints and turpentine camps.Cascade Blues Association
He had seen Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash by 1958. He saw Bo Diddley, Jimmy Reed, and John Lee Hooker in the prime of their careers. About the time he turned 21 he found himself onstage with Big Joe Turner, who said that David Vest’s playing made him feel like he was back in Kansas City. His first recording featured the last song written by Alton Delmore. David himself wrote the first songs recorded by Tammy Wynette, as detailed in her recent bio. He also dated a sister of the Louvin Brothers, toured with Faron Young (who threatened to kill him), backed Red Foley in a show where all the stars got robbed, worked in a theatre with Fannie Flagg and became the first American artist to record in Romania. David received the “direct laying on of hands” from Texas piano legends like Big Walter The Thunderbird, Katie Webster and Floyd Dixon. He toured with Jimmy T99 Nelson and Miss Lavelle White, when he wasn’t jamming with Arnett Cobb, Milt Larkin, Jimmy Ford and Straight No Chaser in Houston.
Long live the King of piano boogie!Cascade Blues Association
From 2002 through 2006, he was co-leader of the Paul deLay Band, reaching the Top Ten on Billboard’s national blues chart with The Last of the Best. David’s many festival appearances under his own banner or with other artists include Bumbershoot, King Biscuit, Waterfront (Portland), Winthrop, Edmonton, Calgary, Tremblant, Trois-Rivières, Baltimore, Houston Juneteenth, Ritzville and New Orleans Jazzfest.
His first Canadian recording, East Meets Vest, was named one of the best blues albums of 2012 by Holger Petersen of CBC’s Saturday Night Blues and earned a Maple nomination for Recording of the Year.
In 2014, newly signed to Cordova Bay Records, he released Roadhouse Revelation, which went to Number One on the Roots Music Report chart for Canada and won a four-star rating from Downbeat.
2016’s Devestatin’ Rhythm brought another record of the year nomination, and in 2018 Cordova Bay Records released David Vest, which led to a Songwriter of the Year nomination and David’s fifth Maple Blues Award for Piano Player of the Year.
Time has done little to diminish David’s energy, skill and creative drive. Working solo or with his band, he continues to bring audiences to their feet and to demonstrate why he has been called “one of the greatest living boogie-woogie piano players.”