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Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Rick Wakeman Puts His Keyboard Wizardry on Display at the City Winery in Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Rick Wakeman performed to a sold-out crowd at the City Winery in Nashville, Tennessee on March 28, 2023. Mr. Wakeman is an English keyboardist and composer best known as a member of the progressive rock band YES through various tenures between 1971 and 2004. In 1969, he left the Royal College of Music to become a full-time session player. Wakeman worked with David Bowie, Elton John, Lou Reed, Marc Bolan and more.


Rick Wakeman greets the patrons at the sold-out City Winery in Nashville.

In the 1970's, Rick enjoyed success as a solo artist. His highest-selling and most critically-acclaimed concept albums are his first three: The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1973), Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1974), and The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (1975). Rick is also an author and a TV personality. In 2017, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of YES and he was awarded a CBE for his services to music and broadcasting in 2021.

Wakeman's U.S. run began March 15th and should be complete by April 15, 2023. This tour will span his 50-year-plus career, stripped back to its roots in arrangements for grand piano and keyboards. The shows include songs from his early days as a session player, through his time with YES and his own multi-platinum solo records, along with innovative takes on other acts.

After a bit of a delay, Rick walked to the microphone set up center stage and shared a few stories about his first music teacher who he described as intimating in a number of ways. However she taught her young student the concept of paint pictures to music which was a perfect led in to a vibrant piece called "Just a Memory" from his most recent release A Gallery of the Imagination.

Back to the mic, Wakeman revealed that he had been married a few times before giving some comical yet insightful thoughts on "safe" phrases to use around women. This worked as an introduction into a song from The Six Wives of Henry VIII . "Jane Seymour" was majestic with the keys sounding like a church organ at times.


Rick Wakeman switched from stand-up to keyboards and piano throughout the show.

We were reminded that Wakeman had penned most of the piano parts for Cat Steven's cover of the old hymn "Morning Has Broken" and it sounded heavenly coming from the grand. Rick said that he still enjoyed playing YES songs so he treated the faithful to a medley of "And You and I" > "Wonderous Stories". Next, was a charmed version of "Merlin the Magician" packed with twist and turns as was "The Dance of a Thousand Lights" where Rick used a tape of orchestrated music to add more depth to the composition while joking it was like karaoke. Back to the wives with an animated "Catharine Howard".

Wakeman mentioned having a friend who was a diver and that person had filmed sea horses in their natural environment. Rick inspired went to the piano and wrote music to accompany it. This was a rarity from the late 1970's that he does not usually play but since Wakeman really likes the piece, we got to experience it too. Wakeman talked about David Bowie and paid tribute to their collaboration by performing "Space Oddity" > "Life on Mars?". Rick's encore honored the Beatles with unique takes on "Help" flowing into a fast played version of the solemn "Eleanor Rigby".

There is no doubt that Wakeman has constructed a prolific catalog through the decades. But, he has also been equally prodigious as a family man raising several children and reaping many multiple grandchildren in the process. Rick's extended family was a big part of the show as they provided jokes and fodder from afar by writing material for their proud Grandpop's comedy portion of the program.

In Music City, Wakeman presented a career spanning set spiked with witty commentary making for an engaging evening. The City Winery was founded in NYC in 2008 by Michael Dorf who wanted to combine culinary and cultural experiences. Today, it has a number of locations including the one in Nashville which operates as a restaurant, venue and wine bar. The City Winery can be booked for private events and they host a wide range of artists such as Rick Wakeman throughout their calendar year.


Rick Wakeman's latest - A Gallery of the Imagination.

Related Links: For more information on RICK WAKEMAN and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Rick Wakeman | City Winery Nashville


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