This year The Kentucky Headhunters played their first overseas shows proving that it’s never too late in life to chase your dreams.

With their roots going back to 1968 when they were known as Itchy Brother, the group recently embarked upon their first tour to the UK, due to the band’s frontman Richard Young overcoming his fear of flying.

Young’s son/drummer, John Fred of Black Stone Cherry, pushed the Headhunters to hit the road across Europe and with the help of Live Nation, the band set about planning a UK tour. This included a date alongside the BSC boys at the Ramblin’ Man Fair.

Tonight, after a career spanning almost 50 years, the Kentucky Headhunters arrive in the North East of England for their first ever show in the region as part of the Summer Tyne Americana Festival at the Sage Gateshead. There is a party atmosphere in the air as the Headhunters close out of the first night of the festival with a late night after hours show.

The band recently released their new album, Meet Me in Bluesland, recorded with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Johnnie Johnson who sadly passed away in 2005. The core of the band’s set comes from their latest offering including the up-tempo “Stumblin'” and blues rock numbers “Shufflin’ Back To Memphis” and “Walking With The Wolf.”

The band tips a nod to local legends The Animals during their rendition of the Bill Monroe number, “Walk Softly On This Heart Of Mine,” whereby they break into “House of the Rising Sun.” The Headhunters continue on a blues tip with a sublime cover of Freddie King’s “Have You Ever Loved A Woman.”

Drummer Fred Young, complete with his racoon hat, takes the spotlight whilst delivering a superb rhythmic drum solo. The rest of the band returns to the stage for a cover of Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit In The Sky” with a southern twist and their classic “Dumas Walker.”

The Kentucky Headhunters have many British influences and discuss how they first saw The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show in the 60’s and how much it meant for them to play in England. Therefore, it seems only fitting that the band would close out their main set by paying tribute to the Fab Four with a medley of “Don’t Let Me Down” and “Hey Jude.”

Despite a fast approaching midnight curfew, an eager crowd spurs the band to return to the stage, and close the evening with fan favourite “It’s Chitlin Time.”

The Kentucky Headhunters will be releasing a new studio album in November. We can only hope that we won’t have to wait as long for their return to the UK. Judging by the audience’s response, it will only be a matter of time before we will see the Headhunters gracing our UK shores once more.

The Kentucky Headhunters
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About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.

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