Kenny Wayne Shepherd Prove Blues and Rock are a Winning Combination


When you imagine who you’d expect to see as the opening act for Van Halen during their 2015 World Tour, blues rock guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd might not be the name you first think of. But if you really think about it, Kenny Wayne Shepherd (KWS) really is a great choice. When people go to see Van Halen, they go to hear great songs, see an incredible guitarist who is a master of his craft, and feel they witnessed something very special. That is exactly what Kenny Wayne Shepherd delivers, absolute perfection of his craft. As KWS and his band take the stage on an evening where the Sun is still shining, he opens the show with his ZZ Top influenced song “Never Lookin’ Back”.

Although KWS was Louisiana raised, he brought that early Austin Texas blues rock sound to the fans as if he was an Austin native. The show continues as the band slow things down with his very bluesy track “Heat of the Sun”. Vocalist Noah Hunt brings that Bad Company’s Paul Rodgers styling with a laid back slightly gritty tone that fits so well with Shepherds playing. Anyone that knows me can tell you that Stevie Ray Vaughan has been and remains one of my all-time favorite guitarists ever. The reason I bring this up is he was a major influence on a very young Kenny Wayne Shepherd and it showed with his next song. That song is the one that put KWS on the music map in 1995 as he channeled SRV with the song “Deja Voodoo. The tone, every lick, every string bend is reminiscent of the late great blues master. This is the song that would not be a KWS show without hearing and he played it with such emotion and style. It is only fitting that former Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble band member Chris Layton is KWS’s drummer.

At this point Kenny Wayne Shepherd went old school blues shuffle with a medley of blues legend B.B. King. They started with “Woke Up This Morning” and drifted into that small club vibe with “You Done Lost That Good Thing Now”. The latter song gave keyboard player Riley Osbourn a chance to let loose and so why he is considered one of the best in his field. A Bad Company influenced song “Blue on Black” was next to be performed.

This was a great song for the reason that it gave KWS a chance to rest in the pocket and let the song melody do most of the talking. It proved the songs are well written even without his guitar solos. Kenny Wayne Shepherd knew it was time to bring the energy back up. He started pumping out a Chuck Berry style riff that turned into “I’m A King Bee”. This was a get the crowd dancing in the aisles moment. As Noah thanked the Shoreline Amphitheatre crowd, there was one song that was to be played that struck a chord with every single person in attendance. That was the Jimi Hendrix classic “Voodoo Child”. As much as I could hear the Hendrix original rendition, it was the Stevie Ray Vaughan version that kept running through my head. It’s just the SRV influence is in his core and that’s what makes me a fan, not because he is trying to replicate Stevie but because he carries that same magic. If there was any doubt that Kenny Wayne Shepherd was the right person to be the opening act on this Van Halen tour, I think he answered that clearly with a Blues rock “Yes”.


Kenny Wayne Shepherd Photo Gallery

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About The Author

I've been a part of music industry as a concert photographer for over thirty years. At an early age I hit the road shooting for Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio, Quiet Riot, Ted Nugent, Twisted Sister, just to name a few. My love for music has never wavered. I started Mayhem Music Magazine as an outlet to share both established and new artists with others who truly love music.

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