To Friends and Family of Wayman Chapman,

For those who do not know, Wayman was life-flighted from Yakima to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle last week. He is suffering from complications of high blood pressure and has been in the intensive care unit (ICU).

As we all know, playing music is not only Wayman's passion but his livelihood. While Wayman is recovering, he will not be able to play the music he loves or earn the income he needs to help with the many bills he faces.

I know Wayman will be grateful for our prayers for his recovery. We are asking those who would like to help in other ways to donate to his medical expenses. You can give whatever amount you are able, and I know every gift, small or large will bless him.

We are extremely thankful for all the love and support that everyone has shown and continues to show in this difficult time. Please keep him in your prayers.

Make a Donation

Welcome To

An excerpt from the Yakima Herald,
(Originally published in the Yakima Herald-Republic on Feb. 2, 2007)

When R&B guitarist Wayman Chapman left town a little over a year ago for a gig leading the house band at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Hong Kong, he wasn't leaving much of a local music scene behind.

While Chapman and keyboardist Larry Knechtel, a Grammy-winning recording legend who lives on a homestead outside Yakima, had found an audience in the winery crowd, local club gigs were few and far between.

So it wasn't long after Chapman returned that he and Knechtel who'd been pulled out of semi-retirement by famed producer Rick Rubin a couple of years ago and most recently wrapped up recording and touring with the Dixie Chicks were exploring gig options at one of the new music venues in town.

"I definitely think things have changed," says Chapman, 54, sitting in the dining room of the Yakima Sports Center next to the stage he suggested the owners build.

He's here with Knechtel, 66, who'll be making his way to Los Angeles soon to play again with the Dixie Chicks for the upcoming Grammys, and Sports Center booking agent Dan Craig. They've got the calendar out and are discussing Wednesday night gigs.

Yes, come March, you can catch a weekly show by Chapman, a smokin' guitar player and soulful singer, and Knechtel, a ... well, living legend ... while you sip $2 well drinks and play shuffleboard.

But this won't be the first time, unbeknownst to bar-goers, that they've been in the presence of greatness.

"Both are very humble guys," says George Finch, program coordinator and booking agent for The Seasons, where Chapman and Knechtel recently played a concert.

Chapman, who grew up in Yakima and has toured with childhood friend Oleta Adams, met Knechtel in 2004 after Knechtel and his wife of more than 40 years, Vicki, moved to town. At the time, Knechtel found himself "climbing the walls" on the weekends, he says, just driving around looking for live music and gigs. (At one restaurant he was told to come back with a resume and a tape.)

He stopped in at Ted Brown Music and was told to check out Chapman, which he did at one of Chapman's gigs at the former Ed's Steak House. The two hit it off immediately.

"I told him to come back next week and bring his keyboards," Chapman says with a laugh.

From there, you could find the two playing at weekend catfish fries, the former Flight Deck Lounge in the Yakima Air Terminal or at downtown's Greystone Restaurant.

"Musically, it meshed real well," adds Knechtel, "and still does."

A year ago, however, Chapman returned to J.J.'s, a lounge in Hong Kong's Grand Hyatt hotel where he played with the group Mojo Six in the early 1990s.

"It was cool because I always wanted to go back and play," says Chapman, who also enjoyed that he got to stay in one place and was well taken care of, even hooking back up with a favorite tailor there.

Still, "I was definitely homesick," adds Chapman, who returned to the United States on Jan. 8. "There were some ups and downs. But it ended on a positive note."

And soon after he returned, Chapman and Knechtel were on stage at The Seasons another venue that's exploded in their absence grooving through Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, Miles Davis and Marvin Gaye tunes, as well as Chapman originals and even Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," a track Knechtel helped make famous.

"Yakima's fortunate to have both of them," says The Seasons' Finch. "Especially Larry. I don't think people understand his history."

The silver-haired Knechtel doesn't like to talk much about the past he'll save that for the rest home, he says. But all you've got to do is glance at the liner notes of some of the greatest rock records ever recorded, and you'll find Knechtel's name.

His first big break came from touring with twangy country legend Duane Eddy from 1959-62. From there he became one of L.A.'s premier studio musicians as a member of what was known as the Wrecking Crew.

Knechtel along with about 30 other musicians, most notably Joe Osborn and Hal Blaine played keyboard, piano, bass and a variety of other instruments on hundreds of albums that included seven No. 1 singles and more than 200 Top 20 singles.

He downplays his importance in all this, maintaining he has always simply been a musician for hire. However, it was his work on "Bridge Over Troubled Water" that earned him a Grammy in 1970 for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists.

"I got kind of known for it," he tells The Seasons' audience in his gruff but joking way. "I guess it's better than being known for nothing."

It also earned him his first trip to play the Grammys. His second came in 1973 as a member of the band Bread. His third will be Feb. 11 with the Dixie Chicks.

"I always feel better when I'm working," says Knechtel, who hits the gym regularly and believes retirement is "a bunch of bunk."

So when Rubin, the innovative producer behind the Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers and the resurrection of Johnny Cash's career, asked Knechtel to play on Neil Diamond's 2005 album, Knechtel headed back into the studio. Rubin then asked him to play keyboards on the Dixie Chicks' latest disk, "Taking the Long Way," which is up for multiple Grammys.

"It's nice to be exhumed," jokes Knechtel. "I still like to play."

Chapman, who's been fielding phone calls and handshakes welcoming him home, says it's also nice to be missed. And, after a year working a corporate gig, it feels good to come back and do his own thing.

"This," he says, going over his and Knechtel's upcoming shows, "is the start."

Another Review By The Herald

Music has taken guitarist Wayman Chapman around the world. But home is where the heart is, if not the source for a great grooving song. And that Northwest pride comes through in the tune "Whistlin' Jack," one of the tracks off Chapman's sophomore album, "Wine, Wayman and Song," which will be released at a New Year's Eve bash and goodbye party next weekend.

Recorded in Chapman's kitchen - "I knew flat-out that I wanted to do the vocals at home," he says - and at Cascade Recording in Cle Elum, then mixed locally by Mike Bruce, the disk is Chapman's first since his 2000 debut, "Thought Crimes."

The six-song album features the sexy tracks "Do You Love as Good as You Look" and "Pumps," a sultry homage to big-legged women in high heels. There's also "Your Love is So Sweet," which Chapman wrote for longtime friend Eric Silvers' wedding nearly two decades ago and "Flat Out," a fast-rocking instrumental, a remix of "Though Crimes" and "Whistlin' Jack," which Chapman wrote in a fit of nostalgia. ("I know a place with ambiance so rare," he sings. "It's optimum to the maximum and hey, I'll take you there.")

Lending their talents to various songs on the new album are Tracy Hurst (keyboards), the Grammy-winning Larry Knechtel (keyboards) - who plays on Neil Diamond's latest CD - Ronnie Bishop (drums), Darryl Silvers (bass) and Rodney Turner (percussion), plus Chapman on vocals, guitar and bass. All but Hurst will play as part of the Wayman Chapman Band at the CD release and New Year's Eve party at the Selah Civic Center.

The bash, featuring Miz Dee's famous barbecue, is also a farewell gift of sorts from Chapman, 53, who leaves for a yearlong gig in China next month. Chapman is returning to J.J.'s, a lounge in the Grand Hyatt hotel in Hong Kong where he played with the group Mojo Six in the early 1990s.

Raised in Yakima, Chapman began playing guitar at a young age. He spent time in Los Angeles, where he recorded at Ike and Tina Turner's studio, "Bolic Sound," has toured with the group Pressure Point, and later with three-time Grammy nominee Oleta Adams, his childhood friend. But between stops, Chapman has always migrated back home.

He's been a fixture in the local music scene and found an adoring audience in the area's wineries. But this was a slow year for Chapman in Yakima. He had his regular Whistlin' Jack gigs and was gaining fans in the Tri-Cities, but "this summer I played one time in Yakima," he laments.

"I'm hoping and praying by the time I get back ... " he says trailing off. "I couldn't take a chance on having another dry year."

Chapman has fond memories of his Hong Kong days and has been invited back several times. And now, with family issues squared away, he's ready to return.

"As far as gigs go," he says, "you couldn't get a better one than I'm about to do."

Chapman worked with John Belmont of the Belmont Agency to put together a band. The six-piece group, with members hailing from Seattle to Turkey, have been rehearsing in Seattle.

"We're tightening up real good," says Chapman, who'll play bass in the band.

In Hong Kong, the band will play six nights a week for the next year in the posh hotel, entertaining tourists, celebrities and high rollers with old-school R&B tunes.

Chapman also hopes to pick up some of the studio and commercial gigs he did there before, and come back to the states and help form more bands to play over seas.

"It's gonna be cool," says Chapman. "I figure at 53, I can do it one more time."