Saturday, May 30, 2009

Herding the Musical Flock

Let's get something straight here: the most impactful element of my life, the most important aspect of my life, the most defining part of my life... is music. I love music, in most formats (and I reserve judgment on what I consider to be, and not to be, music. This is not music. regardless of any awards). Jazz, blues, classical, and most definitely rock n roll! While I await the release of the new Chickenfoot album, coming in a little more than a week, I've decided to do a countdown of my own. It is far past time for me to make certain that you are listening to some great musicians that you just might not be listening to. People who have established some popularity, in certain areas, but not nearly enough global acclaim. Sure, you need to listen to the Stones and The Who, Led Zep and those might mop tops. Def Lep and Bon Jovi are givens, and Bruce is most definitely not. Yep, I said it, The Boss stinks. Get over it, state of New Jersey. Here, however, is someone that you need to check out:

Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Kenny might be most famous for his song Blue on Black (this link just has the song playing in the background of his album cover... I'll throw an actual video down below). This fairly mellow track was not indicative, however, of a great deal of Kenny's blues rocking style. This actually reminds me of what happens to Nickelback a great deal, when songs like Gotta Be Somebody get the airplay, when songs like Animals and Side of a Bullet, both fairly heavy rock songs, are more their style.

Kenny Wayne, contrary to Blue on Black's more pop ballad sound is actually a stand out blue rock guitarist. The man is truly reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughn (who is probably, apologies to all of the others, the greatest guitarist of all time). Kenny mixes straight up blues and strongly upbeat rock, with elements of both Vaughn and Hendrix to truly move you. If you can't find a song within the Shepherd catalog that moves some piece of your soul, you either don't love music, or simply don't have a soul.

Born in '77 (like yours truly), he started at age seven by learning Muddy Waters, first brought on the big stage by Brian Lee at thirteen, with his first album - Ledbetter Heights - coming out in '95. Yep, I graduated high school and went off to Albany, Kenny put out an album and went on tour. He has played around the country and around the world, jamming along with the likes of Double Trouble, and appearing with B.B. King (and if you don't know B.B., then you don't know jack). Kenny has an amazing amount of soul for someone so young, and incredible ability for someone so human.

So, now, I want to share with you two of my all time favorite songs. First up is Deja Voodoo, which came from the Ledbetter Heights album, played live in '96 (he looks so damned young):



Here's a great live video of Kenny and Noah Hunt (his regular lead singer) doing almost a story tellers style of presentation of Losing Kind, off the Live On album.



Incidentally, my two all time favorite Kenny songs, neither of which I could dig up good videos of, are King's Highway (Trouble Is...) and his cover of Oh Well, by Peter Green (who actually originated Fleetwood Mac, before Stevie Nicks ruined it) which is power packed and fantastic (Live On). I highly recommend that, if you have a few extra bucks, to cruise on over to your local CD shop, or to go the iTunes route, and pick up as many of Kenny's albums that you can afford. It is truly worth the spend!

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