Dancing Cat
George Winston

Pianist George Winston has made it known that his musical influences include New Orleans' pianists Professor Longhair, Dr. John, Henry Butler, James Booker and John Cleary, just to name a few.

So after Hurricane Katrina took out the city, Winston wanted to do something to help.

"I had this idea of making a record," said Winston during a phone call from San Francisco. "The problem was it took so long to do it, but it is out now.

"It's like growing apples," he said. "They grow when they do, not when I tell them to grow."

Winston's album, "Gulf Coast Blues & Impressions: A Hurricane Relief Benefit," released in 2006, features Winston's takes on Butler's and John's works, but it also includes Winston originals, written in the style of New Orleans piano.

What's more, 100 percent of proceeds of the album go to aid the hurricane relief efforts.

"When I was in New Orleans after Katrina, I was overwhelmed by the devastation," said Winston. "More than 80 percent of the city was gone."

To make his album's efforts stronger, Winston teamed up with relief organizations Common Ground and ACORN (www.commongroundrelief.org).

"Those organizations are doing their best to help rebuild the city," said Winston. "And Common Ground worked on Henry Butler's house. So teaming with them was a no-brainer."

To date, Winston's album has raised more than $50,000 for the efforts.

The last time Winston did recordings for charity was after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he said, referring to the six-song extended play, "Remembrance," which was released in 2002.

"I don't usually work that way," he said. "Even when I'm making an album without a cause, I don't go into the studio thinking I'm making an album. I just let things come to me.

"But when I was doing the Sept. 11 record, I thought about what I wanted to do," said Winston.

These days, Winston has been working on a new album, he said.

"In 1996, I released an album called 'Cast Your Fate to the Wind: The Music of Vince Guaraldi,"' said Winston. "Next year, at least as far as I know, my new album, 'Love Will Come: The Music of Vince Guaraldi Vol. 2,' will be released. There won't be volume three, though."

For Friday's concert, Winston is teaming with Provo's Community Action Services and Food Bank. There will be collection baskets at the entrance for donations of canned food.

"I think it's important to collect food for those charity," he said. "People can find shelter and drink out of public drinking fountains, but food is always hard to find. And it's a way for me to help give back to the community."

If you go ...

What: George Winston

Where: Covey Center for the Arts, 425 W. Center, Provo

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

How much: $20-$25

Phone: 801-852-7007

Web: www.coveycenter.org

E-mail: [email protected]