Michael Kaeshammer gives Sidney its own concert special

What: Michael Kaeshammer
Where: Charlie White Theatre in the Mary Winspear Centre, 2242 Beacon Ave., Sidney
When: Aug. 21 and 22, 6 p.m. (VIP gala) and 7:30 p.m. (concert)
Tickets: Sold out

Michael Kaeshammer had one theatre in mind when TV producers asked the North Saanich singer-songwriter for a filming location for his first concert special.

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The Charlie White Theatre in Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre has long been a favourite spot for Kaeshammer. When representatives from PBS, the American public broadcaster, went looking for a venue in which to shoot concert footage for a one-hour special that will air in November, it was a no-brainer.

“It makes sense,” Kaeshammer, 42, said. “It is the way it should be.”

Rehearsals began Monday, with crews shadowing Kaeshammer in order to get additional footage for broadcast. The talented Juno Award winner has also been mining his longstanding connection with Greater Victoria for the purpose of the concert special. There is much to explore — Kaeshammer has lived longer in the Sidney/North Saanich area than he has in his native Germany.

He is no stranger to being filmed in concert. His performance at The Great Hall in Toronto resulted in KAESHAMMERLIVE!, a live album released on CD and DVD in 2012. Though the lead-up to his pair of sold-out performances in Sidney have been close to a year in the making, he’s not expecting a stressful environment come showtime.

“The relaxing part will be when I’m on stage. We’re going to play how we play, and [the cameras] will capture that. It seems like the work part is before the show — but the actual playing part, I won’t even think about the cameras. I’m not trying to prove anything. I just want to have a good time.”

Kaeshammer will be joined on both nights by drummer Johnny Vidacovich and bassist David Piltch, who were in Kaeshammer’s band for the recording of his 2018 album, Something New.

Vidacovich (who performed with New Orleans favourite Professor Longhair) and Piltch (a veteran of sessions with k.d. lang) were not the only notables who participated in the project, nor are they the only players from the Something New sessions who will appear with Kaeshammer in Sidney — Colin James and Randy Bachman (Aug. 21) and Curtis Salgado of Roomful of Blues (Aug. 22) are scheduled to appear during the program.

Their involvement speaks to Kaeshammer’s live-without-a-net approach to the concerts.

He is also expecting to debut material from his forthcoming new album to audiences for the first time. “I talked to the producer about it, and she said: ‘Don’t you usually go on the road try this stuff out for a couple of weeks before you film?’ ” Kaeshammer said with a laugh. “We’re going to do it the other way around.”

While the presence of cameras means more formalities are necessary — fans will be asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement that prohibits video or audio recording — Kaeshammer has done what he can to ensure the event has an exclusive flair.

The performer has scheduled a 6 p.m. cocktail gala at the venue before both shows, followed by the concerts at 7:30.

He’s treating the night out as a thank-you to the fans who have supported him for the better part of 25 years.

From the time he arrived in Sidney at 18 from Offenburg, Germany, Kaeshammer has been accepted as one of the region’s own.

He immersed himself in the Victoria music scene almost immediately, and with a degree of talent bordering on prodigious, quickly rose to become one of the city’s finest performers.

The lure to move elsewhere has always existed — New York would be a nice fit for the handsome, piano-playing performer — but he appreciates the symbiotic relationship he has with Victoria, Kaeshammer said.

“Before then, I wasn’t thinking about doing music for a living. Being in Victoria and going to the [former] George and Dragon and James Bay Inn, and Hermann’s and [now-defunct clubs] Harpo’s and Steamers, that’s what made me go: ‘Wow, this is what people do for a living?’ I can do this.’ It is what made me want to be a professional musician.”

Kaeshammer has spent considerable amounts of time in New Orleans, Memphis and China in recent years, but the area which has given him so much along the way deserves to have its time in the spotlight now, he said.

The talented pianist and singer will be happy to pay it forward when his special for PBS airs in November.

“This is home. Being here makes me not want to go on the road.”

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

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