Arts and Entertainment

Pianist shares classic sounds

Oregon-based pianist and folk/rock musician John Nilsen will perform at Isadora’s Cafe in Snoqualmie and the Fall City Methodist Church. - Courtesy photo
Oregon-based pianist and folk/rock musician John Nilsen will perform at Isadora’s Cafe in Snoqualmie and the Fall City Methodist Church.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Concert pianist, jazz musician and folk-rock performer John Nilsen brings a piano performance to Isadora’s Books and Cafe and the Fall City United Methodist Church next month.

Nilsen, a resident of West Linn, Ore., fuses jazz, classical, folk and rock music. He is one of the Northwest’s most successful recording artists, with more than 700,000 records sold. He founded his record label, Magic Wing, in 1986.

He describes his musical influences as The Beatles, Neil Young, Pat Metheny Group and Bruce Cockburn, among other bands.

Taught by his mother to play piano, Nilsen transitioned to guitar and played as a guitarist and vocalist in many folk and rock bands in the ‘70s and ‘80s, before rediscovering the piano. Now, he is fluent as both a pianist and a folk-rock musician.

“It takes a lot of work to be on your ‘A’ game on two instruments,” Nilsen said. “I love them both, I’m passionate about both. I have bands that revolve around both instruments.”

Nilson is comfortable playing venues of any size, from a cafe to a 3,000-seat performance hall.

“Every single performance is different,” he said. “I try to keep it pretty loose.”

“I try to go where my art leads me,” Nilsen said “You’ve got to be true to yourself as an artist.”

Nelson is currently recording a collection of piano solos. He performs solo piano concerts, shows with his own trio, and can also be seen performing with his guitar and vocal band, Swimfish, as he travels the United States and the globe.

Nilsen’s goal is to play in every state. So far, he’s hit 36, including every state west of the Mississippi.

“It’s just a ball to go some of these places,” Nilsen said. “I’ve seen a lot of the country.” So far, he’s yet to check off places like New England and the Deep South — but he’s working on it.

• Nilsen plays 7 p.m. Friday, May 8, at Isadora’s. Admission is a suggested $10 donation at the door for the musician. Beer, wine, coffee and desserts will be available. For more information about the upcoming show, call Isadora’s at (425) 888-1345.

• Nilsen also gives a performance at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 9 at the Fall City United Methodist Church, 4326 337th Pl. S.E., Fall City.

A $10 suggested donation is also requested. Contact the Fall City United Methodist Church at (425) 222-5458.

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