Kenny Wayne Shepherd brings blues to NCC stage
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media October 25, 2013 9:14AM
The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band will perform on Oct. 27 at NCC’s Wentz Hall. | File photo
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band
♦ Oct. 27
♦ Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville
♦ Tickets, $45-$60
♦ (630) 637-7469
Kenny Wayne Shepherd hasn’t slowed down since bursting onto the blues music scene nearly two decades ago.
Instead of taking time off, he’s doubled his work load by joining another band. In addition to the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band, which he’s led since 1995, he recently joined forced with Stephen Stills and Barry Goldberg to create The Rides.
“Our album came out at the end of August, and that was a really fun experience. We’ve had a lot of great shows,” he said. “It was something that was meant to be fun, just a side project, something to inspire us in different ways than we normally are.
“Now I’m with my band and we’re doing shows throughout the rest of the year. It’s been a really interesting experience being a member of two bands. We’ve been really busy this year, which is a good thing.”
He’s also working on a new record with the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band, before returning to the studio in February to record a second album with The Rides.
“It’s great to be busy when you love what you’re doing,” he said.
Naperville audiences will get to preview some of that new material when he performs a 6 p.m. show Sunday at North Central College’s Wentz Concert Hall.
Shepherd is a Louisiana-born guitarist and songwriter who has sold millions of albums and has had numerous Top 10 singles. His love affair with the blues started when he was 7 years old and first met the late guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughan.
He began writing and recording as a teenager, and he co-wrote the No. 1 song, “Blue on Black” early in his career. He has since gone on to receive five Grammy awards nominations.
A dad of three young children now (he’s married to Mel Gibson’s daughter) he’s fortunate to have most of December and January off so he can be with his family.
Inspiration comes from “everyday life,” he said.
“Most of my songs come from life experience and just looking at the world around me and the people I care about,” he said. “I try to write songs I feel the listener can relate to.”
When he’s not making music or being a dad, Shepherd is a car guy. He loves cars, and he was featured in an episode of TLC’s show, “Rides,” with his 1969 Dodge Charger, “Xtreme Lee.”
“I was a big ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ fan when I was a kid, so it was fulfilling a life-long childhood fantasy for me to own a car like that,” he said. “I had a lot of fun building that car and it put me on the map in the automotive world and enabled me to build several cars since then and really immerse myself in my passion for cars.”
The most recent Kenny Wayne Shepherd album came out in 2011, called “How I Go.” Audiences can expect to hear “a fair portion” of songs from that, as well as fan favorites from previous albums, and a couple songs from 2014’s upcoming album.
Of course, expect to hear some Chicago blues.
“My next record is an all-blues cover album of me doing songs from my heroes, and there’s certainly some Chicago blues that will be on that record. But the songs we’re going to do from that album when we’re there in Naperville are going to be a couple of B.B. King songs that he recorded,” he said. “But I love Chicago blues. The only live album I’ve ever put out in my career was ‘Live in Chicago.’ I’m certainly a lover of blues, and Chicago blues in particular.”
In addition to Shepherd, his band consists of Noah Hunt, lead vocals; Chris Layton, drums; Tony Franklin, bass; and Riley Osbourn, Hammond B-3 organ and other keyboards.
His long-term goals are simple — he wants to continue making music that he loves.
“My biggest goal right now is just to continue to be creative. If I can accomplish that, I’ll be a happy camper,” he said. “Just to continue to be able to write, create and perform music – I look at a lot of my heroes like B.B. King and Buddy Guy — all these guys who have had these life-long careers, that’s ultimately the goal for me, to be able to be able to play music for the rest of my life.”