Influenced by the stylings of Sunnyland Slim and Pinetop Perkins, Wainwright’s sound is muscular boogie-woogie overlaid with Wainwright’s mellow rasp. There’s a Joe Turner feel to his sound and presentation, a big presence with a feel-good vibe backed by a throbbing rhythm that moves both soul and body. Boom Town is all originals written by Wainwright or producer/guitarist Stephen Dees. The title cut is a big foot stomp, Wainwright strutting and roaring like the king of the swamp.
He cuts loose with some red hot boogie-woogie on “Two Lane Blacktop Revisited,” careening along the asphalt on the backroads of Tupelo in his smokin’ Mercury. He slows things down to a funky crawl for the Dr. John vocal-flavored “Wildroot Farm,” with saxophonist Patricia Ann Dees adding honey drippin’ harmony.
Although “Piana’s Savannah Boogie” is a Wainwright composition, it’s vintage Pinetop, a rattly rocker that sounds like it’s coming through the widow of a backwoods juke joint. Wainwright’s sound is heavily influenced by Perkins, as well as Sunnyland Slim. Slim’s stylings were passed to Wainwright secondhand by honky-tonky wild man/rasslin evangelist Billy C. Wirtz, but Wainwright had an up close and personal relationship with Perkins. “I played and hung out with Pinetop quite a bit,” says Wainwright, awarded the 2014 Pinetop Perkins BMA award for Piano Player of the Year. Wainwright remembers seeing Perkins performing in a shack back in the woods pounding away so hard that people were kicking up storm sized dust clouds dancing to his music. “Pinetop had his bottle of Jack Daniels and pack of cigarettes on the piano and just did his thing for hours.”
Wainwright is very adept at having a musical conversation with his bandmates, doing as much listening as playing. But when it’s his turn to speak on the mic or through his piano, he lets it all out, losing himself in the moment and the music. But his loss is our gain. If you’re wanting to get lost in musicland, you won’t find a better guide than Victor Wainwright.