By CRAIG HAMMONS
Guitar slinger Kenny Wayne Shepherd came barnstorming into the Coach House on this cold rainy night to raise the roof of this juke joint. This was the second night of his 2017 tour and this packed house knew they were about to witness a blistering rock and roll blues show. Most of the crowd must have seen Kenny before as anticipation was high and the audience seemed energized before the band even took the stage.
The lights dimmed and the band came out smoking with “Somehow, Somewhere, Someway” with Kenny going off like a wild animal that was just let out of his cage. The band proceeded at a blistering pace, knocking out songs, solos and riffs like bluesmen playing with a vengeance. Just when you thought you could catch your breath they went into “The House is Rocking,” where Kenny pays tribute to his mentor the blues master Stevie Ray Vaughn. The band kept it rocking as they then did the Stooges classic “Search and Destroy” with Kenny on lead vocals. This song was covered on an album by Kenny’s side project The Rides, consisting of Steven Stills and Barry Goldberg.
After a four-song knockout it was time to bring things down a bit and they played a beautiful song called “I Found Love.” Kenny explained that when they went to record it the producer wanted them to play it fast and upbeat. But tonight they played it the way it was written as a slow blues ballad. Kenny then took over lead vocals again on the old Elmore James song “Talk to Me Baby” before taking us back to the beginning with his first big hit “Deja Voodoo.”
The band would not be who they are without the mighty lead vocals from frontman Noah Hunt. Kenny and Noah have been together for over 20 years and the chemistry between them shows as they interact on stage like brothers. Kenny then said it was time to pay respect to one of the blues masters he was able to learn from and play with the late great BB King.
They then went on to play to perfection “Woke up This Morning” and “You Done Lost Your Good Thing.”
Kenny Wayne Shepherd and his band have a solid reputation as a live act and tonight they showed us why. All of their studio songs are great but when they play them live they kick it up a notch or two and floor it. They are the real deal and deliver their brand of rocking blues with sincere honesty and conviction allows them to carry the blues torch to future generations.
They ended with “Shotgun Blues” with the lyrics “Now I am a man baby, I ain’t no boy no more,” with Kenny going off like he sold his soul at the crossroads. Kenny got his first guitar at the age of 3 from his grandmother when she cashed in her S and H Green Stamps. Now he has a collection of guitars and is playing one with the crossroads sign on it. Sweating, happy and ready for more they left the stage for a brief moment only to be called back by the dedicated crowd of fans all whipped up into a blues frenzy.
Coming back strong with their most notable hit “Blue on Black” Noah Hunt had the whole audience singing along. But it was now time to get this wang dang doodle of a party started and let Kenny show his stuff on the Slim Harpo tune “King Bee.” This song takes him to another level as Kenny seems to be channeling the blues from some of the fallen legends he grew up on. Ending the night with an intensely powerful version of Hendrix’ “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).”
Kenny rips into his guitar like the ghost of Jimi is watching over him and makes it look easy in the process. Playing like a freight train rolling full speed down the tracking he seemed like he didn’t want to stop. After a solid two hours of good time rocking blues they said goodnight this thankful crowd that got what they came for a rock and blues show of epic proportions.