Low Down Piano

Have you ever heard of Ethan Leinwand? I have! We met in the Pianola Musuem in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on March 31, 2017, on a Blues- and Boogie Woogie Evening, focussed on the 1920s-1930s.

Ethan is a rare, St Louis based, intermediary of that pre-war piano blues, barrelhouse and early boogie woogie. In general “the low down piano” as it was played by countless obscure and (almost) forgotten black pianists like Henry Brown, the Sparks Brothers (Aaron played, Marion sang), Little Brother Montgomery, Jabo Williams, “Cripple” Clearerence Lofton, “Cow-cow” Davenport, Black Boy Shine, Black Bob, Jimmy Yancey, Montana Taylor, to name just a few.

The Museum has -at least- four over a century old antique piano’s (On two of them the museum keeper had 2 (of the 2.500(!) the Museum owns) “automatically” played by piano rolls for us) and Ethan was delighted to have the opportunity to play on the old, black “upright”! His enthusiasm, knowledge and his great skill, combined with the unique sound of the old piano, brought us back in time and as close to the original blues players as our mind and mood could ever get.

When Ethan Leinwand told his audience that Leroy Carr (“Living today he would be like a pop star”) and Peetie Wheatstraw (a.k.a. “The Devils-son-in-law” or “The High Sheriff from Hell”. Peetie recorded over 160 sides and was a phenomenon in his days until he got killed in a car accident) are his favourites, I could not have agreed more! For almost 4 minutes Peetie’s typical, always recognizable piano playing sounded as in his hey days. It felt great to hear him being honoured after (almost) 80 years!

Peetie Wheatstra, the Devil's-Son-in-Law

Peetie Wheatstraw was also a guitar player; this is his only picture

So only one or two minutes after Ethan’s last tunes died out, I stepped in the small line to buy his CD “Low Down Piano”. I was so convinced that his CD would seamless fit my “taste ” so that I did not even look at the numbers on it.

Ethan Leinwand. St. Louis

“Peetie Wheatstraw’s real name was William Bunch and he died in 1941”, I said, because I wanted to show Ethan that he is not the only Wheatstraw-adept and “it sounded awesome to hear your version of Peetie Wheatstraw’s blues.”

When Ethan signed my CD and wrote “For a fellow pre-war fan!” on it, he once more made my blues evening.


Are you ready for Ethan Leinwand’s unique BOOGIE WOOGIE? Click on: Amazon.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *