Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band
About Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band
Fronted by a guitarist who began his career as a teenage prodigy and has since matured into one of the best-respected blues artists of his day, the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band has been a shifting group of musicians who backed the titular bandleader since he broke into the major labels and mainstream recognition in 1995. Shepherd was born in Shreveport, Louisiana on June 12, 1977. Shepherd's father was a disc jockey and part-time concert promoter with a sizable record collection, and young Kenny began absorbing influences practically from birth. By the time he was four, Shepherd was learning to play a plastic guitar his grandmother got for him with trading stamps, and after seeing Stevie Ray Vaughan when he was seven years old, Shepherd graduated to a cheap Stratocaster copy, rewinding licks on cassettes to learn them note by note. (Shepherd says he's entirely self-taught as a musician.) When he was 13, Shepherd was invited to jam with blues musician Bryan Lee during a show, and he surprised the crowd with his precocious talent. Soon Shepherd was gigging regularly throughout the South, fronting a band featuring singer Corey Sterling, and before long record companies were taking notice. Irving Azoff signed Shepherd to his Giant Records label, and his debut album, 1995's Ledbetter Heights, was a critical and commercial success.
The follow-up, 1997's Trouble Is..., was the first album released under the billing of the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. Shepherd's backing band featured Noah Hunt on lead vocals, Joe Nadeau on rhythm guitar, Robby Emerson on bass, Jimmy Wallace on keyboards, and Sam Bryant on drums. The next KWS Band release was 1999's Live On; Hunt and Bryant returned (the latter trading off with drummer Chris Layton), with bassist Keith Christopher, keyboard player Reese Wynans, and second guitarist Bryan Lee filling out the lineup. After two albums with solo billing (2004's The Place You're In and 2007's Ten Days Out: Blues from the Backroads), it would be 2010 before Shepherd released another album under the KWS Band handle. Live! In Chicago featured Hunt on lead vocals, Chris Layton on drums, Scott Nelson on bass, and Riley Osbourne on keyboards. Another studio album followed in 2011, How I Go. The band's lineup was the same as on Live! In Chicago, except for Tommy Shannon replacing Scott Nelson on bass (though Nelson also appeared as a guest artist). For 2014's Goin' Home, Shepherd and his band recorded in his hometown of Shreveport for the first time; joining KWS were Hunt, Layton, Osbourne, and new bassist Tony Franklin. Shepherd and the band returned to Shreveport to cut 2017's eclectic Lay It on Down; this time out, the band included Hunt, Layton, Kevin McCormick on bass, and Jimmy McGorman on keyboards. ~ Mark Deming
BORNJune 12, 1977