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Hometown - Shreveport, Louisiana
As 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.
Having 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.
"This is my third album," notes Kenny Wayne, "and people are appreciating me more as an artist." That
appreciation 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 Danny Tate.
From 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.
Thanks 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 standing ovation.
Live 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. 
Two 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.
Over 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."
Live 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.