Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Wednesday, August 29, 2012 @ 8pm
at The Palladium 253 5th Ave. N., St. Petersburg, FL
There are few artists whose names are synonymous with one instrument and how it's played in service to an entire genre.
Utter the phrase "young blues guitarist" within earshot of anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the modern musical vanguard and the first name they are most likely to respond with will be Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Still barely in his 30s, the Louisiana born axeman and songsmith has been selling millions of albums, throwing singles into the Top 10, shining a light on the rich blues of the past and forging ahead with his own modern twist on a classic sound he has embodied since his teens. He met Stevie Ray Vaughan at 7, shared the stage with New Orleans legend Bryan Lee at13. As an adult, he continues to create genre-defining blues-infused rock n' roll.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd's How I Go not only serves as a strong reminder of the chops that caused Guitar World to place him right behind B.B. King and Eric Clapton on their list of blues guitarists, but it's the strongest indication yet of his gifted songwriting talent. The album pairs Kenny's deeply soulful and impassioned takes on classic material like Bessie Smith's "Backwater Blues," Albert King's "Oh, Pretty Woman" and The Beatles "Yer Blues" alongside the strongest writing and co-writing of his career thus far.
Let's not forget that Kenny co-wrote "Blue on Black" very early on. The song was #1 on the Rock Charts for 17 consecutive weeks. All of the accolades heaped upon his playing are well deserved and well earned. But there is so much more to offer.
"At this point, most people who know about me know I can play guitar," Shepherd says. "As far as my approach to guitar on this record, it's not about showing people how much I can play. It’s about really choosing the right notes and playing them at the right times so that every note penetrates people, and they feel it inside and it’s not just some fleeting thing that just goes right by them.
Where Ledbetter Heights (1995) was a little more bluesy; Trouble Is… (1997) offered more blues based rock; Live On (1999) took a turn to more blues based rock; The Place You're In (2004) went straight ahead rock and the 10 Days Out (2007) documentary exemplified the best of straight blues, Kenny says this one "falls right down the middle between blues and rock."
"Never Lookin' Back" is a rocking song that sets the tone for album, with lyrics about moving on and rolling with life's punches. The song "Cryin' Shame" has that straight Texas shuffle longtime fans love to hear from Kenny and his band. "Show Me The Way Back Home" is a powerful blues ballad for the ages. "We hit a really great balance," he says of the album, which he co-produced.
"Who's Gonna Catch You Now?" is a very personal song. "I've become a father over the past couple of years. It's about a parent accepting what it's like to be a parent and having to accept a certain degree of powerlessness. It's just learning about acceptance. If you're a parent, it will pull on your heart strings for sure."
"Blues player is definitely one of the labels I've accumulated, because I'm a huge blues fan and I love to play the blues," he says. "But if you listen to my music, especially over the course of my career, everything that I do is not blues. It's the foundation of what I do, but my stuff has a lot more of an edge to it. It's a little more contemporary. And there's a certain youthfulness to what I do. I started writing and recording music when I was a teenager and that energy has been consistent throughout my career."
"I’ve got a lot of a career left ahead of me and a lot of records left to make," he says. "I’m hoping to be playing music when I’m in my 80’s like B.B. King. I’ve got a lot more songs left in me to write and record. My fans want to hear new music, they want to hear new albums, and then when they hear a new record they want to come out and hear us play that stuff live."
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