Cover Story ~ From the Road with Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band ~ Durham, NC
This is a true story about my love for music and God hearing my heart and answering my prayers.
The story of my admiration for Kenny Wayne Shepherd starts in his youth, and my affections for his music and his story have grown over the 22 years since I was first introduced to a boy child, with a mean manipulation of a six string. I remember it well too. The opened package was tossed there by an editor and I was the lucky recipient, as I was the blues reporter for the publication. A fair amount of paperwork from the label and publishing company came with a disc featuring a young kid on the front. I put the disc in the changer of my car and listened to it right out of the office. I was impressed before the first toll plaza.
That was late September 1995, driving along the Garden State Parkway listening to his debut disc Ledbetter Heights. A few months later it was slotted that the band would be coming through the area and when the tour contacted the publication I wrote for, my editor assigned it to me for the blues column of The Aquarian Weekly. Boogie n Blues published weekly and afforded me great opportunity to speak with many amazing players, including Buddy Guy, Jeff Healey and even tonight’s featured player KWS.
We did a 20 minute phone interview on the week of his debut disc, pictured above, took the place of his own hero’s work. He replaced Stevie Ray Vaughan‘s Greatest Hits at the top of the blues charts with his initial offering. While speaking with this young man I wonder about the whirlwind it must be and we even joked about how he missed having time to himself for simple things like going to the bathroom. I asked if he wanted me to hold on, I wouldn’t mind. He laughed and I never forgot the day I interviewed him at my home in NJ while he was on the road.
A few weeks following our interview I made it out to a show at Irving Plaza, where their band opened for another fairly new band on the scene with a big presence, Gov’t Mule. What did not register and carry through enough to stick, even with photographic proof, was that Shepherd switched singers early on and Noah Hunt joined him a couple of years into the journey. I was reminded of this when I found out, thanks to the folks with the tour, after sending back some pics from that part of the journey. It was also more proof that it was a lifetime ago, that my faded memories of impressionable music were made.
Over the years Shepherd has been a strong and steady presences in the arena of rocking blues. He delivers clean and precise offerings of praise to all that have come before him and inspired him. I am overjoyed to see that 20 plus years later. Today he is doing it with more skill, great comfort and ease, while standing at the helm of this genre carved out by the one who inspired him most of all, (SRV), the one he replaced on the charts with his own introductory work. He was just 17 when he offered the world his soul and now at 40 he is in full control of his destiny and grounded in his music diversity that will always be rich in paying tribute to the blues.
On Tuesday, September 26, 2017 The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band pulled into Durham, NC to perform at The Carolina Theater in Durham, located at 309 W Morgan St. Durham, NC. Opening the show was The Apocalypse Blues Review, a rocking band with blues overdrive from Southwest Florida, who warmed up the stage for the fiery force to come.
After a fierce blues finish the road crew went to work swiftly and with care to get the stage set for the greatness that would grace it.
The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band is out on the road headlining a tour in support of their new release, Lay It On Down. The band went into the studio in the early part of the year. They released the album in Europe in July and on August 4, 2017 it hit all the markets for sale here in the states. Since then and in the 8 weeks, we watch as this music master gives us his greatness yet again.
Personally, I think this is his best original work yet. It is fascinating for me to watch any artist, but this man in particular really speaks to my soul with his music. He always has. If I could have two wishes for this album, it would be for it to offer more songs and one being a pure instrumental selection. My favorite feature of this album is Shepherd’s vocals. It’s just very exciting from my vantage point, because when I was first introduced to him he was rather shy on stage and rarely took the microphone.
They opened the show with the closing track of the new release, offering the audience a shotgun seat for at “Ride of Your Life.” Throughout the night they also offer the first release and opening track, “Baby Got Gone,” a song that reminds me of myself chasing my music dreams. “Diamonds & Gold” gives us a song full of advice on how we all should live this life. The Texas blues offering of “Down For Love” was a highlight and the ballad of “Hard Lesson Learned” also resonated with the crowd. The title track, “Lay It on Down” was the opening encore offering.
I could not help sitting there and thinking, today he has all the players one might need to make a stellar band. Featuring the back beat of Chris “The Whipper” Layton, on drums, session artist, Kevin McCormick on bass, Joe Krown on the ivories and Noah Hunt at the mic and on guitar, for the past two decades makes this a worthwhile band to see. Add in the creme de la creme and you emerge with The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. This too was another thing this artist has grown around. He has been a true work in progress and in these twenty plus years he has grown into his most confident voice and found his best band too. I would love an opportunity to talk more about that and many other things.
For anyone who has been asleep and is not familiar with the blues artist with rock edges, that has blazed trails with guitar strings, he has been recognized by Fender, who offers a KWS Signature Fender Stratocaster, a guitar that Shepherd himself made with the company about a decade ago. His music has been recognized in the highest regards and his life on the road has taken him to all corners of the world. The Louisiana born player has grown up right before our eyes and now is raising his own family of five with his wife Hannah. One of the most admirable things about him for my heart is his love for family and how he keeps that first even in this crazy career.
I admired the business model of a young Shepherd being managed by his name sake and father, Ken Shepherd, who not only bought Kenny his first guitar but he also brought him to the shows featuring Stevie Ray Vaughan, who not only signed the guitar but inspired his mind so much with his music that it ended up putting Shepherd on the trail he still blazes with great family success.
Currently the band is touring the states while preparing for a quick jaunt for festivals and live music fun over in Europe early next month. They will return to the states in mid October and continue touring here til the end of the year.
When I learned the band was coming to town, I reached out to the website, called and spoke with his tour. I requested a press pass and expressed an interest in wanting to interview the band. I followed up with an email. After several days and no word I followed the link on the site for tickets and purchased the last front row orchestra seat. It was right in front of Kenny’s amps. I would not know until he came out, but what a lucky girl am I! I swear that seat was waiting for me, ten days before the show.
After a few attempts at trying to line up an interview with an artist,who has always been reachable and gracious with media, I left town with hope in my heart that I would reach him with the request myself. My heart was a little heavy as I drove several hours without a guarantee to of meeting him…I noted a pretty sunset on the way towards Durham and there was a beautiful lining around the clouds. I observed it and ask God one time to please, please let me meet this man tonight so that I can ask him face to face for an interview.
Within minutes the sun was behind the buildings, I was parking across the street and staring star struck at KWS’s tour bus and trailer. My heart was racing and again I said “Dear God, please guide me through this night, keep me safe and let me tell him my desire to interview him. “I locked the doors of the truck and walked on to my seat. As I approached his trailer, I snapped a few shots and as I looked toward the building here comes Kenny Wayne, phone in hand and walking straight on toward me. I had nothing more to say but “Timing is everything,” as I extended my hand and introduced myself. I asked him first for an autograph and as he was graciously signing his name with my purple pen, I threw in a request for an interview. It was great to shake his hand several times and welcome him to NC. I feel like God is riding in the music bus with me. What an awesome co-pilot! I will be following up with the management team to arrange that interview and will keep you all in the loop as we roll down the road with this mopar loving blues man!
Keep up with the band and all of Kenny’s studio and touring projects, by keeping up with his website
The 2017 Lay It On Down Tour is a great effort in giving fans a bit of all of this artist and his many projects. He knows very little down time with cutting chops with his own project, as well as The Rides featuring Stephen Still and Barry Goldberg and before this latest band release he was keeping busy on tour with The Jimi Hendrix Experience. If you enjoy raw guitar blues based rock roots music, this band does Lay It On Down! Go see them soon.
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~ On The Scene With Tracey Stones ~
In my year and a half back on the scene, I have not had the pleasure of enjoying a night with Backseat Romeo, the music duo featuring the sounds of Justin Castellano and Ed Prophet. To be honest, with so many telling me about these two sweet groovers, I decided to hear it for myself and booked them at The Harvey Mansion. They offered a great mix of grooves on the patio last Sunday during the dinner hour, to the enjoyment of many old friends and fans who truly missed this union. It was a fun night of blended talents and special guests, including local singer and stringer, James Ford.
For those looking for these two, you can find them both tonight. Ed Prophet will be doing his thing live and local tonight at BrUtopia, 1201 Highway 70 E, New Bern, NC. He will be offering the sounds from 7-10 pm, while the staff serves up the freshest local brew. This show is free and you can feel free to leave money in the tip jar if you like the music you hear.
Justin Castellano on the other hand is local in his own area and will be performing for those dining this evening at Boro Restaurant and Bar, located at 109 N Front Street, Swansboro, NC. He too will offer the music from 7-10 pm and the staff will be serving the best from the menu for you and your date. Come enjoy the start of another great weekend.
For those wondering who is on the patio at the Harvey Mansion, located at 221 S Front St., New Bern, NC, you can enjoy the acoustic sounds being offered by Ken Belangia this evening on the patio from 8-11 pm. Come dance and boot scoot to the sounds you know and make music memories with friends.
Tomorrow evening under the stars and tent will be the sweet sounds of the talented Tom Spellman. He will be joined by many friends to make for a fun night of music surprise. Be sure to join us for the magic from 8-11 pm Saturday evening.
Late Sunday afternoon we offer the vintage sounds of Alisa Mike, with her AM Serenades show on stage as the sun sets and dinner is served on the patio. Come enjoy live music four nights a week on the patio at The Harvey Mansion, with talk of more music coming.
I am sure many of you were already aware that they were featuring live music each Friday, Saturday and Sunday. At the beginning of this month they added dueling pianos to the rotation each week. For those who enjoy the good time of impromptu showmanship and music skill, come out and check these guys out. They play each week, taking your requests from 8 pm til midnigh,t as they tickle the ivories for your good time.
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Gettin Down Around Town, New Bern
Live tonight, folks can come to The Harbour Pointe Golf Club and enjoy the sounds and music of Tracey Brenneman live from 5-8 pm. They offer a light menu, wine and beer and delicious desserts too. Located in Fairfield Harbour near the end of Broad Creek and to the left, the public is invited to join us residents.
Rick Huff will be in town this weekend and sharing his grooves with the fine folks at The Brown Pelican, located at 411 Broad Street, New Bern, NC. His free show starts this evening at 7 pm and he will play til 10 pm.
Tomorrow night they will featuring East Brogues Band live and on fire in the front of the Dirty Bird, giving up the dancing grooves from 8-11 pm. Come enjoy this Carteret County trio that will rock you into the night.
Bryan Mayer Band is the entertainment on stage tonight at Triple Play Restaurant. Located at 111 Williams Rd., New Bern, NC. Come early for dinner and stay late for the show. This CMT star is also New Bern’s own. Come out and support our talented singer putting our name on the map with his good grooves.
Tomorrow afternoon there will an Embrace Recovery Rally, to close out National Recovery Month. On the bill for entertainment will be local talent Bobby Hurff with his band Gypsy Sunrise. The event will take place in Union Point Park tomorrow afternoon and you are encouraged to bring the family for music fun. The band will perform from 3-4 pm.
~ Rockin Around the Region ~
My buddy Chick has been working hard at getting his band ready to roc souls and tonight they are ready to slay you with their sounds. Come enjoy the rockin’ grooves of SkullDuggery live at Archibald’s Tavern, located at 5160 Sunset Lake Rd., Apex, NC. Music starts at 9:30 pm and they rock you til past the midnight hour.
Roy Stewart & Jason Smith team up for an acoustic show this evening at Crossroads Grill & Bar, on 8136 NC Highway 55 W, Seven Springs, NC. Music starts at 9 pm and they rock you til the break of dawn or at least til 2 am.
Closin’ Tyme will be bringing their boot scootin’ favorites to the Red Room this evening. Located at 220 N Herritage St., Kinston, NC, the country groovers will have you dancing from 10 pm til 2 am. Music charge is $5.00 and payable at the door.
Checking things out in Jacksonville, NC I found out that Tuesday’s Gone, The Ultimate Tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd will be live at The Tarheel Opry House, located at 145 Blue Creek School Rd., Jacksonville, NC. Doors open at 8 pm and tickets are $15.00.
New Bern based rocker Stairwell will be rocking Greenville tonigh,t when they take AJ McMurphy’s by storm with their new act of rocking favorites and cool originals. Come get rocked from 9 pm til 1 am. AJ’s offers a great menu of authentic Irish food, so come early for dinner and rock the night away with great music. Located at 1914 Turnbury Rd., Greenville, NC.
Also in rocking G’Vegas tonight with cool country grooves, you can check out Rural Route Romance, on stage tonight at Buccaneer Music Hall located at 2120 Fire Tower Rd., Greenville, NC. They take to the stage at 10 pm and rock you til 2 am.
Built for Comfort brings their brand of rocking blues to Market Street Pub this evening. Located at 143 N Market St., Washington, NC this place opens its door to live music each weekend. Come party and support their efforts. Music starts at 10 pm and the rock til 1 am.
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The Heart of Music
Joe Baes reached out last week. He is interested in making a difference in the lives of other locals by collecting his tips tomorrow night. Of course many of you know I was asking bands to collect tips for my Jammin’ For Jim Campaign to help the Kohler family stabilize after Jim Kohler fell very ill.
With that campaign being over, Baes asked about another fundraiser for a local family. Last week I mentioned Josh Overby announced his dear friend is very sick and several area band will be joining forces to host a show at The DoubleTree, on S Front St., New Bern., NC, on October 21, 2017, to raise money for Lynwood Goff and his family as he does battle with cancer. All ticket sales will go to the family and tickets are on sale now. On the bill will be Take Two, The Bi-Polar Express and 3Day Weekend.
To add awareness and to help the family, Joe Baes Project will be collecting tips tomorrow night for the Goff Family during their performance at Brutopia. The band will be there on Saturday from 7-10 pm and all tips will go to helping our local family in need.
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Answering the Call:
Each week I ask my talented Facebook friends to tell me where they will be performing and here is what they told me this week. Please get out and support live music this weekend. These bands work hard for your good time.
Live Music Events
If you have Facebook you can search the many music events happening throughout the state by clicking on:
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That is all my news and music that I found for your dancing pleasure. I hope you get out and enjoy the sounds of live music sometime soon. I am dedicated to making sure you know where to go to find it. If you like this blog please sign up and get an email each time we publish. I appreciate my readers, the musicians and the venues who all do a part in keeping live music alive! Thanks for keeping me informed!
Please take kindness with you today and hug strangers. Don’t forget that life is short and could end in a moment, so make sure you take time to enjoy the dance. Party safely people! We love having you here with us! You rock, so don’t roll the car! Rely on sober friends, call a cab or sign up to Uber around!
Send all of your event invites to me on Facebook, so I know where you are playing in the days ahead. I can be found on Facebook by following this link:
I also read emails daily. You can send those to: