Michael Kaeshammer has been to The Dream Cafe in Penticton so many times, he’s literally lost count.

“I come every summer, it’s a working vacation,” the jazz/pop pianist said from his home in Victoria. “When Pierre (Couture) ran the club, he’d always announce how many years in a row it was that I had been there. Then Pierre retired and I think no one counted anymore.”

Even though he tours all over the world, the German-born, Victoria musician has a soft spot in his heart for Penticton.

The Pentastic Jazz Festival was the first gig he played where he flew to the venue — a big deal for a young man just breaking into the business. Shortly after, The Dream Cafe began booking him annually for a four-night stand every summer. It always sold out. The Kaeshammer tradition continues July 10-13.

“I have a trio coming with me this year. Johnny Vidacovich is a drummer from New Orleans who used to play with the likes of Dr. John and James Booker. We recorded together and are basically working on a new record together, along with a PBS special. Devon Henderson is my bass player.”

Kaeshammer is in the process of taping a special for PBS that will air nation-wide in November. In the special, he takes a trip from Memphis to New Orleans and visits places that influenced his life and career. Several big name guest artists will appear in the special with him.

Kaeshammer has played many of the world’s most prestigious concert halls with Toronto’s Massey Hall perhaps being his favourite. There’s another in China that he loves.

Early in his career, he also played dives.

“You know, it didn’t matter because for me, every gig was great. The fact you get to play music. Your values change over the years in what you want out of a show, you change as a musician, but I’ve always loved playing and I still do.”

When he drives across Vancouver Island, he often spots old community halls.

“Those were the places I played when I was first starting out, such great memories, I always loved those old halls. This is what music’s all about.”

Kaeshammer insists that his job doesn’t seem like work.

“It’s the travel that’s exhausting, that’s the part of the job that I consider to be work. Playing the piano, that’s fun.”

Following his four-night stand in Penticton, he will travel to Europe. He’s also joining fellow Dream Cafe favourite Ben Waters at an all-star piano festival in London, later this summer.

“Coming to The Dream Cafe, it feels like home. Our band has been talking about the Penticton gig for weeks now and how much we’re looking forward to it. I hope The Dream Cafe keeps going and going because I still want to be playing when I’m 80.”

Michael Kaeshammer and his trio perform at The Dream Cafe in Penticton, July 10-13. For ticket information visit: thedreamcafe.ca.

On the net: kaeshammer.com.

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