Pianist and singer Jan Preston is a boogie and ragtime piano player with a personality that has made her a hit with audiences around the country. She comes to Mullumbimby this weekend to put the boogie back into your boogie.
Jan, how would you describe your relationship with music?
I’ve had a lifelong obsession with pianos and piano music.
What is it about boogie and ragtime that entices you?
I am transformed by the physically hypnotic groove I can create playing boogie piano and singing.
How do you shake that much sound out of one humble piano?
I hit the keys hard, and my left hand rhythm drives everything. I give the piano a workout.
Do piano’s always submit to you? What’s your favourite? Are you a baby grand girl?
Some people pick up stray cats, I pick up pianos. I just find them, or maybe they find me. They’re people to me; each one has its own personality. I’m hopeless with names, but show me a piano I’ve met and I’ll know when and where we were introduced. At one time I had seven pianos in my house. I dream of opening Preston’s Retirement Home for Old Pianos.
How do you go about writing songs?
Sometimes I start with words, sometimes with a groove. It can come quickly and other times it’s laborious. I listen to the greatest boogie piano players and singers every day.
What do you aim to give in your live performances?
I aim to involve, entertain and uplift both my own spirit and that of the crowd. I am constantly humbled by my audiences’ feedback. People are often enduring difficult situations in their lives, and my music lightens the load for them.
Tell me a little about composing for film/TV – do they send you the briefs ?
I don’t compose for films much anymore; too busy touring and performing live which I prefer, although hearing my Theme to Australian Story on ABC TV every Monday night was a blast.
What should we expect for your local show?
People should expect to be entertained and enlivened by my piano playing, singing and humorous anecdotes. My show presents a contemporary original bent on the longstanding boogie woogie piano tradition, poignant at times, but mostly action packed and energetic.
See Jan on Sunday at Mullumbimby Civic Hall.