Shreveport, Louisiana guitar prodigy Kenny Wayne Shepherd brought his travelling version of the 10 Days Out…..Blues from the Backroads cd/dvd collaboration to Tampa for a night of rock and blues guitar worship.
The show began with KWS and his band doing a short set of music from Kenny’s earlier releases. I viewed this as an opening act and counted the songs until the meat of the show began. I like Kenny’s music, a lot; but this night was about the fellas he brought on tour with him, and I could not wait for them to get on stage.
Before the touring “guests” came on stage, Kenny stepped to the mic and gave a brief synopsis of the 10 Days Out project. Then he let some clips from the beginning credits of the dvd run on a movie screen along with some clips from Buddy Flett‘s portion of the disc before Buddy took the stage. This was when the fun began! Five songs full of slide guitar solo’s by Buddy and ending his set with Honky Tonk Blues from the 10 Days Out cd, the show was only set to get better. Before Buddy left the stage he and Kenny sat down to pay homage to the late Etta Baker by playing her 10 Days Out contribution Knoxville Rag.
This led to welcoming Jessie Sanders to the stage. Jessie’s Chicago blues style guitar playing and harmonica really seemed to energize the crowd. Jessie seemed to be having more fun than anyone else on the stage during his set, which culminated in a tit-for-tat exchange of guitar licks with Kenny in a crowd rousing “Got My Mojo Workin’.”
Next to take the stage was Bryan Lee. Bryan gave Kenny his first chance on a stage at the age of 13 and now things come full circle as Kenny gets to take Mr. Lee out on tour with him. Since I got 10 Days Out and started collecting the music of the artists featured on the disc , Bryan Lee has without question been my favorite, and he did not disappoint on this night as he brought his New Orleans flavor to the stage. Closing Bryan’s set with the crowd pleasing Tina Marie set the stage for all of the nights participants to join him and Kenny for a few songs.
For an encore Kenny came out and did a version of Voodoo Child that would have made Jimmy sit back and take notice. It definitely left the crowd speechless. Which leads me to an overall observation of the show. As talented as Kenny Wayne Shepherd is, and the boy has got talent to spare, he was content to take a back seat during the bulk of the show, much like he did on the cd. This truly was a homage to his influences. In an era of the look at me attitudes of athletes and rock stars it was pretty damned refreshing. Don’t get me wrong, Kenny got his share of the spotlight but when it was time for the other people to shine he was able to blend in and play the role of backing band member with a sincerity and grace that I can appreciate.
Should the Blues from the Backroads tour get back out on the road and come to your town you should make a point to go. It is a rare treat to see the collection of talent that this tour offers on a single stage.
Also, here is a clip from Kenny’s new cd/dvd, 10 Days Out…Blues from the Backroads. It is from the documentary you get and is KWS with the surving members of Muddy Waters’ band. This is my personal favorite performance on the cd.