Arts and Entertainment

Walt Wagner opens the 2011 Sundays at the Commons series

Walt Wagner will play at the Bainbridge Commons at 4 p.m. Jan. 2. - Courtesy Photo
Walt Wagner will play at the Bainbridge Commons at 4 p.m. Jan. 2.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

So, once you’ve played Harrah’s (with Sammy Davis Jr. no less), been on The Tonight Show, rocked Madison Square Garden and toured the world, playing the Bainbridge Commons might seem, well, anticlimatic.

Not so for Walt Wagner who said he is looking forward to the intimate setting of his Jan. 2 concert. On the phone from his home in Seattle, Wagner described the exciting, but chaotic life that came with touring on the road. After years working with high-profile acts such as Jay Leno, Bill Cosby, Roberta Flack and Lily Tomlin, Wagner decided to craft a life with more balance.

Seattle has become home base and he’s turned his love for playing toward work with the Seattle Symphony, local gigs, and composing/recording in the studio in his home.

These days he enjoys intimate venues where he can connect with his audience in a more personal way. That connection has become one of the trademarks of his concerts, as he weaves a bit of patter between songs.

“Nothing slick,” he said. “But relational.”

He said the smaller venues, such as the lounge at the posh Canlis Restaraunt in Seattle where he has a regular gig, remind him of the European-style parlor concerts where musicians would play surrounded by friends and food.

Bainbridge is new territory for Wagner, who likes to weave unexpected twists into his repertoire. Between the jazz classics – Cole Porter, a little Gershwin – Wagner is liable to sprinkle a few modern names – Coldplay, Pink Floyd, even Lady Gaga – just to keep it fresh.

“I like the variety,” Wagner said. “I’ve always been about the music.”

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