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Story and photos by Dave VaculaKenny Wayne Shepherd is a true American musician. Born in Louisiana, it didn't take him long to cultivate his abundant skills as a blues/rock guitarist and singer/songwriter. With his able bandmates (Noah Hunt - vocalist, Riley Osbourn - keyboards, Scott Nelson - rhythm section and bassist along with Chris "Whipper" Layton on drums) in tow to play the beautiful new capacity-filled Viper-Alley in Lincolnshire, Illinois. Shepherd's parents took him at the tender age of three to see Muddy Waters live and his intense and soulful style reflects many of the late-great bluesman. You can hear the ghosts of Howlin' Wolf screaming for forgiveness or Jimi Hendrix's wailing cries in the notes that he so effortlessly bends.
A Kenny Wayne Shepherd show is always an up close and personal affair - no matter if you see him at a small club or a huge arena. Shepherd specializes in the electric blues. The blues where the mud still drips from every wailing chord as his guitar work is an honest extension of his mind.
The show started off with a lively version of the popular "Someday, Somewhere, Someway." The song pulled you to the edge of your seat in anticipation for what might lie ahead. Shepherd nailed the soul down on the Louisiana rocker "King's Highway." The entire band got more than involved in the blast of "True Lies" with one part gritty blues and the other part hard rock. A new song called "Never Looking Back," expected out this summer, was amazing as Shepherd mastered the fiery lead. "Blue on Black" and "Everything is Broken" went so fast and furious that Shepherd surely had blisters on his fingers.
Everyone in Viper-Alley experienced a once in a lifetime performance. The show was beautifully raw from beginning to end. A 21 minute encore of Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile" last known cousin "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" blew the house down.
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