Jim Witter will pay homage to Elton John and Billy Joel

Jim Witter will pay homage to Elton John and Billy Joel

Jim Witter honours ‘piano men’ Billy Joel and Elton John

Show coming to Sid Williams Theatre in Courtenay on Oct. 27

Mark Allan

Special to The Record

Elton John and Billy Joel each have legions of fans but not many who would make a career of playing and singing their songs.

Enter Jim Witter.

With Witter on grand piano and a skilled band behind him, a Sid Williams Theatre audience will get a multi-media ’70s show Oct. 27 filled with Movin’ Out, Crocodile Rock, Only the Good Die Young, Philadelphia Freedom, Piano Man and many more hit songs.

“When I first started out with an idea for the show, which was going to be a nostalgic look back at the ’70s, the idea was to do a number of hits from different artists from that decade,” Witter explains in a phone interview.

Born in the 1960s, Witter came of age in the next decade, when his musical tastes developed and became entwined with other pleasant childhood memories.

There was no doubt that any nostalgia show would feature the 1970s, especially with the success of That ’70s Show.

“I was going through all the charts from the ’70s … and I noticed Billy Joel’s and Elton John’s names kept appearing quite frequently. I was, and still am, a massive Billy Joel fan and almost as massively an Elton John fan.”

Witter’s focus quickly narrowed to two of his favourite singer-songwriters.

The Piano Men show he developed nearly a decade ago has been a hit ever since, earning rave reviews from music critics all across North America.

Witter developed a similar show focusing on the 1980s but, “There’s definitely a greater interest in all things ’70s.”

That phenomenon is still going strong.

“More and more people my age are starting to feel very nostalgic for their youth.”

Witter, of course, has witnessed live performances by John and Joel.

“The very first concert I ever went to, a real rock concert, I was about 12 years old. I remember this so clearly.”

His brother had two tickets, but a friend couldn’t attend, so he asked his little brother if he wanted to go.

“I remember saying, ‘Who are you going to see?’ And he said Billy Joel. I remember saying, ‘Who’s that?’ ”

Needless to say, Joel made a huge, life-changing impression on Witter.

“I was 12 years old, and it was a big moment for me. I knew that’s what I want to do. I remember the next day saying to my mom, ‘Hey, can you teach me some chords on the piano? I want to learn how to play the piano and sing.’ ”

Witter saw Joel and John live several times each, including John “in his heyday, probably around ’78 when he would play three-and-a-half-hour concerts. It was magical.”

He doesn’t impersonate John’s and Joel’s singing styles, although Witter confesses he’s heavily influenced by both.

“I don’t like to tell people we’re trying to mimic the artists. I don’t dress up like Elton or anything like that.

“At the same time, I grew up with these songs and the original recordings of these songs are burned into my psyche. For me to do anything but try to recreate them would be almost sacrilegious.

“We don’t change the arrangements at all, and it just seems natural to me to play them the way I remember hearing them.”

Witter augments the songs in The Piano Men show with a large video screen displaying 1970s images that is popular with audiences.

Witter is a Canadian award-winning country and Christian music singer-songwriter from Ontario who’s had 10 top-10 songs on Canadian country radio.

He received two Juno Award nominations.

He’s performed the Piano Men show all over Canada and the U.S., and recently did so in London, England. He’d love to export his take on the ’70s to Japan.

Jim Witter performs Oct. 27 at the Sid Williams Theatre in Courtenay. The 2016–2017 Blue Circle Series is proudly presented by Odlum Brown Limited.

For concert details and tickets, visit www.sidwilliamstheatre.com, phone 250-338-2430 or visit 442 Cliffe Ave.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Karilyn, right, with her older sister, Sabrina. Both siblings are members of the YANA family, after being helped by the community organization on separate occasions. Photo supplied
Siblings both members of the YANA family

Comox Valley non-profit helped Geiger family on separate occasions

A second-floor balcony continues to smoulder after a fire extinguisher was used to get a small balcony fire under control at the Washington Inn Apartments. Brian Hayward, who lives on the third floor, was alerted to the fire by the smell of smoke wafting into his apartment. Photo by Brian Hayward.
Courtenay firefighters respond to balcony fire at Washington Inn Apartments

Firefighters were called out to the Washington Inn Apartments Sunday, April 17,… Continue reading

RCMP forensics investigators scour the site north of Highland School in Comox, where multiple people were stabbed during a party Saturday night, April 16. Photo by Terry Farrell
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Comox bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault near Highland Secondary

Cumberland is surrounded by trees — and logging. Its council is supporting a call to stop old-growth logging in vulnerable areas of the province such as Fairy Creek. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland backs request to save B.C.’s old-growth forests

The Comox Youth Climate Council is asking local governments to take stand

Danita Bilozaze and her daughter Dani in Comox. Photo by Karen McKinnon
Valley woman makes historic name change for truth and reconciliation

First in Canada to be issued new passport under the TRC Calls to Action

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Nothing stopping provinces from offering AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults: Hajdu

Health Canada has licensed the AstraZeneca shot for use in people over the age of 18

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Most Read