Arts and Entertainment

Master-ful performance | Kitsap Week

George Winston performs in his socks, plays the piano hard, and will reach into the piano and mute the chords with his hands.                 - Submitted photo
George Winston performs in his socks, plays the piano hard, and will reach into the piano and mute the chords with his hands.
— image credit: Submitted photo

POULSBO — A solo pianist who began raising money for service organizations more than two decades ago will perform at Gateway Fellowship in September. Grammy Award winner George Winston will perform at the Poulsbo church Sept. 8 at 7 p.m.

Winston received two Grammys for his performance on the children’s album “Velveteen Rabbit.” He’s released 12 solo piano albums.

Tickets to the event are $15 advance, or $20 the day of. A family four-pack is available in advance for $50.

Tickets are available online at Or visit Gateway Fellowship, 18901 8th Ave. NE, Poulsbo. Call 779-5515.

Tickets are still available and are selling quite well, according to Dave Fischer of Gateway Fellowship.

“He’s a phenomenal artist,” Fischer said.

The money raised at the concert will benefit Gateway’s Operation Day of Hope, scheduled for Oct. 20. The Day of Hope will include free services such as free clothing, medical care, a food pantry, spa services and hair cuts.

Money raised will also help support Gateway’s meal service, which provides community meals Saturday’s and the first Friday every month.

Winston has performed in benefit concerts and recorded music for beneficiary purposes for years. He said local food banks are always invited to participate in his shows.

Winston just wants to help out.

“Everybody says, ‘I want to do something,’” Winston said. “Well, I make records and concerts.”

Winston said the difficult economy is one of the many reasons he performs at benefit concerts. Though a normal concert may have fewer attendees because of difficult times, a benefit concert typically draws more, he said.

But the pianist said money and music don’t equate. To Winston, money is imaginary, music is real.

In terms of the tough economy, Winston is not looking for someone to blame. “I’m looking to clean it up,” he said.

The concert will include a canned food drive. The food from the concert will help supply the food pantry at Day of Hope. Any remaining food will be donated to North Kitsap Fishline.

The visit to Poulsbo is part of Winston’s first U.S. tour since the release of his latest album, “Gulf Coast Blues & Impressions 2 — A Louisiana Wetlands Benefit,” March 20. The album benefits the work of groups such as The Voice of the Wetlands organization, a volunteer-based nonprofit devoted to raising awareness and developing educational opportunities about the loss of the wetlands in southern Louisiana. The album also benefits efforts to heal the damage from the BP oil spill.

Those attending the concert have Mark W. Costa of Gateway to thank. Costa worked with Winston on past events.

“Anytime I’ve been in the position to share his [Winston’s] gift, I’ve felt compelled to do so,” Costa said. If you’re a Winston fan, you’ll know why his music is special.

Though much of his music can be a decade or more old, Costa said it remains unique and fresh today. Winston plays the piano hard, with a physicality that “is very unique,” Costa said. The solo pianist will even go so far as to reach into the piano and mute the chords with his hands.

Walking out on stage, first-time Winston viewers may be surprised.

The pianist dresses low-key, with a T-shirt or buttoned-down shirt and jeans. He typically doesn’t wear shoes and performs in his socks.

He shares his art in a relaxed fashion, Costa said. However, “his technical skill is unlike [that] you will ever see.”

Because Winston plays music based off the current season, he will play his “summer” show Sept. 8.

Since 1972, Winston has released 12 solo piano albums, including “December” and “Autumn,” and has performed thousands of shows, which always include renditions of his most beloved solo piano works, according to his website. He also performs some of the late Vince Guaraldi’s “Peanuts” soundtrack pieces.

The music Winston is writing now is primarily New Orleans R&B oriented, melodic folk piano and stride piano. His live show also includes performances on harmonica and Hawaiian slack key guitar.



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