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Label Watch: Dancing Cat

George Winston

Say what you will about George Winston, the new age pianist whose simple style made him a star in the early ’80s and has continued to be his cash cow, even as many critics grew to love to hate his best-known, best-selling work. This much is true: Winston is one of music’s most avowed music fans, and one who has put his money and clout where his mouth is (and where his obsessions are). That much is critical in understanding the phenomenon of his label Dancing Cat, almost single-handedly responsible for affording a new lease on public visibility for the venerable Hawaiian slack key guitar style. It has been one of Winston’s chief passions for many years, and now the world is catching on.

Another odd fact, and perhaps the best-kept secret, about George Winston is that he is probably a better guitarist than he is a pianist, technically speaking. And Winston, a Montana native who doesn’t seem to have a pretentious bone in his body, knows it. Asked if he plans on recording any guitar albums, he says “I’ll probably do some guitar albums. It’s certainly the instrument closest to my heart, even more than the piano. I like the piano for its power, but the guitar is delicate and caressing. I feel that I speak to my girlfriend more with guitar than piano.”

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