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
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 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.
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 standing ovation.
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 as "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.