Kenny Wayne Shepherd had us from the get go last night (August 23, 2017) at the Ridgefield Playhouse in western Connecticut when he stated onstage that “at our core we are a blues band and all of our music over the years has been built on the foundation of the blues”. Then they proceeded to prove it with two hours of blues rock tunes spanning the twenty two years that he has been recording since the release of Ledbetter Heights in 1995. The performance also included a number of great new songs from their album Lay It On Down.
Sporting simple black T-shirts and jeans and long hair styles reminiscent of the seventies, both Kenny and Noah Hunt shared the singing duties as they romped through favorites like Deja VooDoo, Blue on Black, Heat of the Sun, and King Bee. Kenny’s guitar playing is intense and breath taking at times as he works the frets and strings in ways that very few others have ever done. But there is also a simple sincerity in his demeanor that charmed the audience (and the ladies in particular) and has been the hallmark of all great blues men and women over the years; They write about life as they see and experience it and then perform it with a gusto and relish that draws you in. No one just sits idly contemplating the music or the history of the blues at a Kenny Wayne concert…the crowd was on its feet spontaneously several times early in the concert and then stayed on its feet for the last hour swaying, rocking, and singing along at times.
Kenny has stated in several published interviews this year that he wanted his 8th studio album to take him in new directions…to explore new boundaries based on the blues. His previous seven studio albums have been number one on the Billboard Blues charts and he has had a string of blues rock singles that have topped the rock charts over the years as well making him arguably the most commercially successful of all the blues rockers currently on tour. With the Lay It on Down album, he has achieved his 8th blues chart topping recording and he also sits atop the rock and the current album listings as well!
My favorite tune on the new CD is Nothing but the Night, a sultry upbeat recording showcasing Noah’s voice as well as Kenny’s tasteful guitar playing. A very close second are two songs Baby Got Gone and She’s $$$, both hot upbeat blues rockers. The title track shows the influence of the Nashville co-writers Kenny worked with for the album. The lyrics to the song are engaging and it also surprised and delighted me with the strong beautiful harmonies between Kenny and Noah. Down for Love. Diamonds & Gold, Ride of Your Life, and How Low Can You Go are the type of roadhouse rockin’ blues that I love and feature on my 24 hour Ben Vee Roadhouse blues stream (http://s1.nexuscast.com:8043). The lovely slow song Louisiana Rain brought back memories of our shared home state to me and most certainly was written with his wife of eleven years, Hannah, in mind.
Great album, great concert…..there is not much more that really needs to be said. My Louisiana home boy done good! Go see him if ya get a chance and damn sure buy the CD!!!
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band – Lay It On Down, Concord Records (US) and Mascot Records (Europe)