- Shreveport, Louisiana
the poet said, "The child is father to the man." In the case of Kenny Wayne
Shepherd, the child has proven himself to be one of the most astounding
guitarists of his generation. While still only 22 years old, his music
reflects a striking maturity and unequaled rock instincts. Combine these
artistic abilities with a young man who is a product of the same cultural
realities that others his age face, and you have the voice of blues rock
for a new generation.
enjoyed two straight #1 Blues albums, a string of #1 mainstream rock singles,
two 1998 Billboard Music Awards for Rock Track of the Year ("Blue on Black")
and Blues Album of the Year (for Trouble Is....), and a 1999 Grammy nomination
for Best Rock Instrumental Performance ("Trouble Is…"), Kenny could have
granted himself a little time to chill out. But he would have none of it.
As his new Giant album Live On readily shows, Kenny's powers as a guitarist,
songwriter, arranger, and performer have only strengthened over time, making
him without question the dominant guitar voice in rock for years to come.
is my third album," notes Kenny Wayne, "and people are appreciating me
more as an artist." That
will surely increase with the release of Live On. Produced by Jerry Harrison
and mixed by Tom Lord-Alge, the new album presents Kenny's most accomplished
work to date. In addition to his own band, Kenny was joined by a host of
world-class guest musicians. They included drummer Chris Layton, bassist
Tommy Shannon and keyboardist Reese Wynans (all members of Stevie Ray Vaughan's
backing band Double Trouble), as well as Dr. John on organ, James Cotton
and Mickey Raphael on harmonica, guitarist Bryan Lee and guitarist Warren
Haynes (of Allman Brothers fame), and Third Eye Blind bassist Arion Salazar
and Les Claypool of Primus. Kenny wrote or co-wrote most of the album's
songs along with such noted tunesmiths as Tia Sellers, Mark Selby, and
the beginning, Kenny knew what he wanted on Live On. "The end result is
just what I heard in my head all along," he says. "I like to go from one
extreme to another, and I think we did that on this album." That would
include everything from razor-edged blues rockers like "In 2 Deep" and
the funky "Nevermind," to the intimate ballad "Last Goodbye." In between,
Kenny and the band draw on a broad spectrum of styles, from the Delta-flavored
slide guitar of "Was" to the urban sting of "Losin' Kind." The band also
turns in a pair of killer covers, Buddy Miles' "Them Changes" and the early
Fleetwood Mac classic "Oh Well." Songs like "Was" and "Everytime It Rains"
exemplify how Kenny can take the venerated blues tradition and find innovative
ways to bring it into the next century. Throughout, vocalist Noah Hunt
sings with passion, humor, and authority, the perfect counterpoint to Kenny's
sublime accompaniment and solos. Clearly, Kenny's work on Live On will
be sure to secure his place in guitar history.
to his father's career in radio, Kenny Wayne Shepherd was exposed to a
wide variety of music while growing up. But the flashpoint came when seven-year-old
Kenny was taken to see a Stevie Ray Vaughan concert. Witnessing the Texan's
performance from atop an on-stage amp case, the boy experienced a powerful
and profound transformation, and in short order he strapped on his first
guitar. Soon, Kenny's passion for music - and his natural ability to play
it - grew by leaps and bounds. By the time he was 13, Kenny knew it was
time to get out of the garage and onto a stage, which is exactly what happened
during a family trip to New Orleans, where a club crowd gave him a raucous
gigs became more frequent, and as he jammed with elite blues players, a
mystique began to surround him. Before long, the music industry came calling,
and once Ledbetter Heights dropped, Kenny began playing prestigious stadium
gigs, opening for the Eagles and Bob Dylan. The guitarist was immediately
recognized as the real deal, and rewarded with three Top 10 rock singles
from Ledbetter Heights - including "Deja Voodoo" - and the #1 album position
on Billboard magazine's blues chart for five months straight.
years later, Kenny surpassed all expectations with his second Giant album
Trouble Is.... Featuring lead singer Noah Hunt and produced by Jerry Harrison
(LIVE), Trouble Is... accomplishes exactly what Kenny set out to do: introduce
blues rock to a new generation. After the release of Trouble Is.... in
October of 1997, Kenny and the band earned a 1999 Grammy nomination for
Best Rock Instrumental Performance and picked up a BMI award as well. The
album topped Billboard's Blues charts for two years straight, while three
singles - "Slow Ride," "Blue On Black," and "Somehow, Somewhere, Someway"
- were all #1 radio singles. In fact, "Blue on Black" was one of the most-played
singles of the year, and voted rock song of 1998 in such prestigious trade
publications as Billboard, R&R, and Album Network.
the past few years, the band has toured with the Rolling Stones, the Eagles,
Van Halen, Aerosmith, and Bob Dylan, reaching even wider audiences worldwide.
They played over 200 shows in 1998, including debut tours of Australia
and Japan and a return visit to Europe where Kenny headlined an evening
at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival (he also joined B.B. King, Herbie
Hancock, Charlie Musselwhite and Keb'mo on stage there for an unforgettable
multi-generational blues jam). Kenny also starred in a Gap commercial,
while Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair were among the many national magazines
to run extensive spreads. Critics were effusive in their praise, with Vanity
Fair lauding his guitar playing is "both ferocious and restrained," and
the Godfather of Soul, James Brown himself, calling Kenny "one of the wonders
of the world."
performing is the cornerstone of Kenny Wayne's game plan. "That's the big
payoff," he says. "To walk on stage every night and watch the fans sing
along: it's total fulfillment; it's what playing music is all about." On
the other side of the equation, those who appreciate a hard-working band
making music that's honest and pure, and who know the real deal when they
see it, will find their own fulfillment in the music of Kenny Wayne Shepherd.