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'I'm not your father's Bruce Hornsby': Multi-Grammy Award winner's making waves with new music

Bruce Hornsby is playing live in the Tri-Counties
Tristan Williams
Bruce Hornsby is playing live in the Tri-Counties

With decades of hit music, three Grammy awards and one of the most familiar piano riffs in modern music history, Bruce Hornsby is playing live on the Central and South Coasts with a show that brings his music right up to date.

Topping the charts in the US, Canada and the Netherlands in 1986, The Way It Is by Bruce Hornsby and the Range tackled tough topics like poverty and civil rights – to the soundtrack of a distinctive piano solo.

"I'm proud of this song," Hornsby told KCLU. "It's a song about racism with two improvised piano solos. This is not the formula for pop radio. And so it was a nice, a wonderful accident, a great fluke that it happened," he said.

"It just somehow connected and resonated, I think mostly on a sonic level, because it just had a different sound with all the piano. What's freshens it every few years is that someone covers it, and in some times in a transcendent way. Tupac Shakur made his version in the late 90s - they discovered it after he was assassinated. And subsequently, so many great artists in the hip hop world have recorded it, so it continues to be reinvented. That's a lucky score for me, it just continues to have new lives," he said.

Hornsby is back on tour - and, he says, playing new music that’s “not your dad’s Bruce Hornsby.”

"People who are looking for a stroll down memory lane - they will be a little shocked by some of this music. It's very modern and to me, in the best way - in the most exploratory, adventurous way. It's not your father's Bruce Hornsby," he said.

His new music seeks to illustrate and narrate the issues of climate change and ocean pollution – with an album collaboration with Y Music, called Deep Sea Vents. 10 songs about water and the ways we live with it.

"I never stop creatively. I'm always pushing it and I'm always moving to new places. And this tour is no different. This is a tour with the great New York Chamber Ensemble Y Music. That's what's happening now, that's the tour now," said Hornsby.

He might says this isn’t your dad’s Bruce Hornsby, and he’s right – but Hornsby says there’s still plenty at his shows for fans nostalgic for his earlier music.

"We're very kind to the nostalgia lovers, the people who are there for a stroll down memory lane. Let's face it, most people of a certain age are virtually strictly interested in a nostalgic night out. You know, to hear the good old songs of their youth. Most everybody, once they hit age 25 to 30, basically spends the rest of their life listening to the music of their youth or new music that sounds stylistically very similar. In my case, that's not who I am, I'm not you vehicle for that. But, at the same time, we're very kind on this tour and in general in my touring life, because we will play three or 4 or 5 of the old songs," he said.

Bruce Hornsby and Y Music are performing at Cal Poly performing Arts Center in San Luis Obispo Tuesday and at the Bank of America Performing Arts Center in Thousand Oaks on Wednesday, and he’s also back with the Noisemakers on July 28th at Libbey Bowl in Ojai.

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022 and 2023.

Since joining the station she's won 10 Golden Mike Awards, 5 Los Angeles Press Club Awards, 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards and a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Writing.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for eleven years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.