Ok this is the third time, I have tried to write this post today!!
Today is the 36th birthday of blues guitar great Kenny Wayne Sheppard. I first heard Kenny Wayne’s name way back, well maybe not way back, but back in 1995, when as an 18 year-old he released his first album Ledbetter Heights. Like many in the blues and rock worlds, I was blown away by the album and Sheppard’s playing!! When his second album Trouble Is… came out, I went out and quickly picked it up! I didn’t like that album as much as the first one, particularly the vocals…. Here’s what Allmusic says about the album….
While the record lacks the surprise and impact of Ledbetter Heights, it’s clear that Shepherd is growing as a guitarist, developing a cleaner, more nuanced technique. He still suffers from the lack of an original voice, plus a lack of strong material, but his growth as a guitarist compensates for what’s missing.
Anyway no one ever questions his guitar skills. Here’s a little background on how he started out from Wikipedia:
Shepherd stated in a 2010 interview that he began playing guitar in earnest at age seven, about six months after meeting and being “pretty mesmerized” by Stevie Ray Vaughan, in June 1984, at one of his father’s promoted concerts. His self-taught method employed a process of learning one note at a time, playing and rewinding cassette tapes, using “a cheap Yamaha wanna-be Stratocaster…made out of plywood, basically”, learning Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Albert Lee licks from his father’s vast music collection. At the age of 13, Shepherd was invited on stage by the New Orleans bluesman Bryan Lee. After proving his abilities, he decided on music as a career. Demo tapes were made and a two-camera video was shot at Shepherd’s first performance at the Red River Revel Arts Festival in Shreveport. It was this video performance that impressed Giant Records chief Irving Azoff enough to sign Shepherd to a multiple album record deal. Full Biography
Anyway, after that second album and the release of Live in 1999, it was five years until his next release in 2004, The Place You’re In, so I kinda’ lost interest in his career. The next album that I listened to fully was his 2011 release Live! In Chicago and it was one of my favorites for the year!! A terrific album and Kenny even sings on it!!
The Kenny Wayne Sheppard Band is now composed of Kenny, Noah Hunt on lead vocals, Chris Layton on drums, Tony Franklin on bass and Riley Osborn on keyboards. Kenny’s website says that Noah joined the band in 1998, while Wikipedia says he handle the vocals on the second album Trouble Is…. (you know the one I didn’t like the vocals on)…. and provided the vocals on the song “Blue on Black”. Now if that is true, after watching the following video, I need to go back and listen to that second album!! Anyway, Happy Birthday, Kenny Wayne!!
Also check out his site to see how you can help out the folks in Moore Oklahoma!