When Kenny Wayne Shepherd formed the supergroup The Rides alongside Stephen Stills and Barry Goldberg it not only gave him another creative outlet for his work but it also gave him the means to express himself in new ways.
Regarded by many as one of the great blues rock guitarists of his generation, up until recently little attention had been given to KWS the vocalist. But following a word in the ear from bandmate Stephen Stills the Louisiana guitar slinger took up the challenge laid down by the CSNY legend to sing more on both The Rides studio recordings as well as their live performances.
This experience catalysed Shepherd’s appetite to sing more on his own compositions, which in turn has fed into his latest studio album The Traveler. This new dynamic has allowed lead vocalist Noah Hunt to take a break from time to time giving way to KWS to flex both his vocal cords as well as his lightning-fast fingers.
The Boiler Shop in Newcastle has witnessed many historic events since its construction in the 1820’s – being the former workplace of engineer Robert Stephenson and the birthplace of the Stephenson’s Rocket. However, the events inside of this huge warehouse space are now more of a musical nature instead of industrial.
It’s been five years since Shepherd was last in the North East, and as a result anticipation is high for his return with a packed out crowd in attendance on Tyneside.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd wastes no time at all showcasing his latest offering with recent single Woman Like You kicking off the proceedings. Several back to back songs from The Traveler quickly follows including an incredible cover of Buffalo Springfield’s Mr Soul and a blistering airing of Long Time Running at the top of the set.
From the off, this new band dynamic features strongly in the show with Shepherd taking vocal duties on tracks such as Talk To Me Baby by Elmore James via The Rides and I Want You from current release The Traveler. And its songs such as the astounding I Want You that perfectly represents how contemporary blues should sound and feel in the present day.
We are currently encountering a spell of balmy weather here in the North East of England, and it goes without saying that the classic Heat of the Sun seems perfectly fitting on a beautiful summer’s evening such as this. Shepherd truly wows the Tyneside crowd with his emotive yet fiery playing during this monumental display of guitar mastery.
Despite the emphasis on The Traveler tonight’s set is peppered with a healthy dose of classics and fan favourites. Tracks such as the incredibly infectious Diamonds and Gold, Texas blues number Down For Love and the beautiful Shame, Shame, Shame all feature in the show.
A three-song encore that features smash hit Blue On Black and concludes with Shepherd’s take on Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile brings the night and the concert to its explosive finale. The aforementioned number also affords KWS the opportunity to showcase his flare by channelling the great man himself whilst simultaneously adding his own embellishments and unmistakable stamp on this timeless classic.
Whilst the old guard may be fading, with the likes of Buddy Guy being the last in line of the blues greats of yore, the baton has been passed to artists such as Kenny Wayne Shepherd amongst other rising stars of the scene to carry the blues forward into the 21st century. This much-loved genre is in safe hands for sure.
Event Date: 18-July-2019