For Michael Kaeshammer, the thrill of live performance makes it all worthwhile

As we head back into the clubs, the theatres and the concert halls, it’s really easy to see what we’ve missed. This is particularly so when it comes to Michael Kaeshammer.

The pianist, composer and vocalist is at the top of his game when he’s in front of an audience, enchanting each person in the room not only with his musical talent, but with his sincerity and outstanding showmanship.

While his albums are brilliant, there’s nothing quite like experiencing a live performance by Michael Kaeshammer.

His latest tour finds him travelling across Canada, including several stops in Ontario. Before heading out, Kaeshammer joined us to talk about how he manages a heavy tour schedule.

This tour has been a long time coming. What are you most looking forward to when it comes to getting back on the road?

Connecting with the audience. That’s really the one thing I miss about playing live. I had a really good couple of years with my piano at home, but the interaction with the audience is something that I really feed off. I can’t get that anywhere but on stage. You’re travelling at 6 a.m. every day and you’re driving on snow-covered highways… whatever. Playing in front of an audience and connecting with them, that’s the best.

You’ve got a lot of shows. You’re going right across the country, then you’re heading to Germany in the spring and China in the fall of next year. How do you deal with a gruelling schedule like that? What do you do to self-preserve?

I bring a good book. There are really three things that make going on the road easy: You have to make sure you have enough sleep — even four or five hours of good sleep — you have to eat well, and really, bring a good book. The rest of it is easy. You’re just in the moment. If I didn’t enjoy playing as much as I do, I wouldn’t do that. I get so much out of playing that I would row a boat to China.

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You’ve been working on a new album, Turn It Up. Tell us about this new project.

I’d been writing a lot during the pandemic. I also put out an album in October called The Warehouse Sessionswhich was a one-take situation with [bassist] David Piltch and [drummer] Johnny Vidacovich. I had so much time during the pandemic, so I went through all these files and picked out the best stuff for this record that came out in October. At the same time, I just kept writing. I got in contact with a friend of mine from Toronto named Ron Lopata who’s a great producer, and we’ve been working on recording these tracks. He’s bringing his pop sensibility to the production side, and I’m bringing my piano and writing style. We’re a really good team. This will come out sometime in the spring, I think.

What can people expect from these shows you’re bringing on the road?

A lot of energy. The band is a really good combo, and they’re from all over the place. We’re good friends and we’re really excited to meet again and play together. And I’ve practised a lot over the pandemic. I think people can really just expect a good time. You know, I love jazz, but there are a lot of people who love jazz as well, but they don’t know it. My biggest compliment from someone is when they say, “I’m not really into jazz, but this was a great show.” You can introduce them to a style that they wouldn’t have listened to before.

I’ve seen that happen with fans of yours before.

I think it’s the same with classical music. If music is good or not good, that’s really what it is. Good music is good music.

This interview has been edited and condensed.