Beyond the Music with Laura: Kenny Wayne Shepherd at Louisville’s Bourbon & Beyond Festival

by Laura Lou / 2382 days ago / Comments

During the first annual Bourbon & Beyond Festival in Louisville, Kentucky I had the opportunity to talk with the incomparable, Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

There are artists that are well known for a song or particular sound, however, when it comes to Shepherd, the opening description on his website, sums up what separates him from the rest; “There are few artists whose names are synonymous with one instrument and how it’s played in service to an entire genre.”   Watch our interview as we discuss what kind of pressure this statement puts on Shepherd.

Shepherd’s first guitar, be it only a plastic guitar his grandmother purchased for him, was when he was only 4 years old.  At the age of 7, he upgraded to a Stratocaster copy. Having a father who was a disc jockey and concert promoter, he was constantly surrounded by great music. Never having had a lesson, instead, learning how to play by rewinding songs and learning, note for note, by ear.  At the age of 13, he was invited to join blues artist, Bryan Lee on stage during a show, leaving the crowd surprised by his talent.

Shepherd began performing throughout the South and as labels began to take notice, the self-taught musician, penned his first record deal at the age of 16, with Irving Azoff’s Giant Records.  Shepherd released his debut album, titled Ledbetter Heights, in 1995 with critical and commercial success.  The follow-up album Trouble Is…, was released in 1997 and went Platinum.  The third album, in 1999 Live On, included radio hits “In 2 Deep”, “Shotgun Blues” and “Last Goodbye”. 

Throughout his 20-year recording career, Shepherd has recorded and toured with some of the greatest names in the business including, B.B. King, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Hubert Smith, Pinetop Perkins, David “Honeyboy” Edwards, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Joe Walsh, Stephen Stills, Barry Goldberg, Ringo Starr, and many more. 

Additionally, over the span of his career to date, Shepherd has sold millions of albums worldwide and the awards and nominations that Shepherd have received speak for themselves.  They include, five GRAMMY nominations, two Billboard Music Awards, two Orville H. Gibson Awards, the Blues Foundation’s Keeping The Blues Alive award and two Blues Music Awards.  He has achieved seven #1 blues albums and a slew of #1 rock singles. 

His current album, Lay It On Down, had a great kick-off with ending the week of August 10, 2017, at #1 on the Blues Chart, Rock Album Chart, and Internet Chart as well as #5 on the Current Album Chart. 

Shepherd and I discussed the new album and the feel of this one in comparison to the previous releases.  He also tells us what he has coming up and the list is a long one so make sure to watch and take notes. 

Shepherd is known as “one of the best blues artists of his day”, yet I believe he will hold that status past “his day” on into generations and decades.  There tend to be certain “reasons” in the music business, if you watch statistics on these things, which I tend to do, that can create longevity or a quick ride and it is soon over.  The reasons, as I have come to determine are actually very close to the same in life in general.  Attitude, Motivation, Humbleness, and Kindness. 

Shepherd is the best of these.  His attitude is that he just loves what he does.  His motivation is to give his fans and those who are yet to join the Shepherd train more.  If you are loving what you do with a genuine motivation, it falls into place that the people love it.  Humbleness, could not be truer than this artist, as he says in our conversation, the “hype”, good or bad, is not what he is concerned with rather continuing to make music and give it all he has with every performance and with every album.  Finally, Kindness.  The best way to describe this character trait with Shepherd is for you to watch our interview and listen to him discuss his career, his music, his love for what he does. 

Shepherd is the real deal.  Not just as one of the best guitarists or the best blues artists, but he does not let that override the human aspect of this business.  I look forward to catching up with him again and cannot thank him enough for giving us some time before his performance.

Make sure to follow Shepherd on all social media platforms, links are below as well, and do not forget to download the newest release Lay It On Down, available now wherever music is sold.  This is one of his best albums to date.  Stay tuned for all the upcoming events as he mentions when we talked and catch him on tour.  Shepherd does not disappoint in performances and vocals of this music he loves so much.



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Kenny Wayne Shepherd Tour Dates

04/19/2024 : The Canyon @ The Oxnard Perfor: Oxnard, CA
04/20/2024 : SoCal Jazz & Blues Festival 20: Murrieta, CA
04/27/2024 : Delta Blues Explosion - Samant: New Orleans, LA
05/16/2024 : MGM Northfield Park Center Sta: Northfield, OH
05/17/2024 : Greektown Casino: Detroit, MI
05/18/2024 : Performance Pavilion Sweetwate: Fort Wayne, IN
07/12/2024 : Golden Nugget Lake Charles Hot: Lake Charles, LA
07/13/2024 : Raising Cane's River Center: Baton Rouge, LA
07/26/2024 : Paramount Theatre: Cedar Rapids, IA
07/27/2024 : Brown County Music Center: Nashville, IN
08/04/2024 : Beacon Theatre: Hopewell, VA
08/06/2024 : Tarrytown Music Hall: Tarrytown, NY
08/07/2024 : Scottish Rite Auditorium: Collingswood, NJ
08/08/2024 : Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom: Hampton Beach, NH
08/10/2024 : Backroad Blues Festival: Lewiston, NY
09/12/2024 : Arcada Theatre: St Charles, IL
09/13/2024 : GLC Live at 20 Monroe: Grand Rapids, MI
09/14/2024 : The Factory: Chesterfield, MO

About Laura Lou

Laura Lou Journalist

Beginning about age 13, music always been my “safe place”, my “escape”, it became a part of who I am. My background includes being a photographer/journalist for newspapers, magazines and radio stations and more recently I have been an artist manager. What I continue to strive to learn is, what is important to the fans/readers? I find that the answer is always that they want to feel close to the artist they are supporting. The human contact that we all need is something that I want to deliver to anyone that happens to read something I write or see a photograph I shoot. It is important to me to provide that experience, because I am, after all, still always a “fan” and that giddy 13-year-old girl is simply amazed! I never imagined that my passion and love for music would lead me where I am today! I use the hashtag #iamtheluckiestgirliknow because I cannot believe how blessed I am! I’m excited to see “what happens next” and take you all along with me! This is going to be amazing…