A night of blues with Kenny Wayne Shepherd

| 18 Aug 2014 | 04:03

The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band's "Going Home Tour," will bring a night of blues music Saturday, Sept. 6 at Mayo Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $39 to $69.

Two decades into a recording career that began when he was 16, Kenny Wayne Shepherd has built an enviable resume as a recording artist, a live performer and guitarist. He's also emerged as one of the contemporary blues world's leading lights, helping to spearhead a widespread revival of interest in the blues.

Shepherd has sold millions of albums worldwide and received five Grammy nominations and two Billboard Music Awards, as well as a pair of Orville H. Gibson awards, the Blues Foundation's Keeping The Blues Alive award and two Blues Music awards. He's had six number one blues albums and a string of number one mainstream rock singles, and his acclaimed CD/documentary project 10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads was the top-selling blues album of 2007.

Having already set an impressive standard for creative vision and world-class musicianship, Shepherd delivers his most personal project to date with "Goin' Home." Recorded in an 11-day whirlwind in his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, the release finds Shepherd revisiting a dozen of the vintage blues classics that originally inspired him to pick up the guitar and pursue a life in music, approaching the material with an intensity that affirms his deep connection to these time-tested classics.

"It was definitely an emotional experience, and it was the most fun I've ever had making a record," Shepherd says of his "Goin' Home." "I felt like I was retracing my steps back to where it all began."

On "Goin Home," Shepherd's guitar work shine on his renditions of tunes originally popularized by such blues icons as B.B. King, Albert King, Freddie King, Muddy Waters, Magic Sam, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Stevie Ray Vaughan,Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. Shepherd's memorable readings of such beloved standards as "I Love the Life I Live," "The House Is Rockin'," "Breaking Up Somebody's Home" and "Born Under a Bad Sign," along with some lesser-known tunes drawn deep from within the catalogues of his heroes.

"Goin' Home" first began to take shape when Shepherd decided to take advantage of an 11-day gap in his touring schedule. Rather than use the time to take a break, he rerouted his tour bus to Shreveport and headed for Blade Studios, run by Shepherd's hometown friend and respected drummer/producer Brady Blade, renowned for his work with the likes of Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle and Dave Matthews. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of American Blues, Shepherd and his band-singer Noah Hunt, ex-Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble drummer Chris Layton, former Firm bassist Tony Franklin and keyboardist Riley Osbourn, whose voluminous credits include work with B.B. King, Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker-cut 22 songs, with no studio trickery and minimal overdubbing.

Shepherd predicts that the lessons he learned in making "Goin' Home" are likely to influence his approach to record-making in the future.

"We had so much fun doing it this way that it never felt like work," he asserts. "As an artist I feel it's appropriate to make a record that feels right at that time, whether it's a rock record or a straight blues album, or something in between. Trying different things is how you evolve, as a musician and as a person. And in the process of that, you figure out what works for you and what gets you inspired."

The Mayo Performing Arts Center is located at 100 South St. in Morristown. For more information contact the box office at 973-539-8008 or visit www.mayoarts.org.