Kenny Wayne Shepherd has got the blues — and wants to show as many people as possible.
The onetime teen guitar prodigy’s latest project, a CD/DVD combo called “10 Days Out: Blues From the Backroads,” chronicles Shepherd’s 2004 journey through the American South with his band and producer Jerry Harrison, playing with blues legends both wellknown (B.B. King, Hubert Sumlin, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown) and unsung (Bryan Lee, Cootie Stark, Etta Baker). It was, in essence, a travelogue with a backbeat.
“We figured out who we wanted to record with and basically went wherever they were at,” says the Louisiana-born Shepherd, who’s now 29 and lives in California and has five albums to his credit. “We went to their house, or we found a local blues bar or some kind of unique location.
“But for a lot of these people, we just drove up to the front door, loaded into the living or kitchen and played.”
Shepherd says he feels a sense of mission with the project, especially since several of the musicians he worked with have passed away since the sessions.
“My vision was, ‘Hey, man, we can really get these cats an opportunity to have a bigger audience. Their careers might really take off,’ ” explains Shepherd, who’s donating proceeds from “10 Days Out” to the Music Maker Relief Foundation, a nonprofit organization assisting impoverished blues musicians.
The deaths, he says, “makes it all the more important that we do everything we can to make sure this project gets the attention it deserves. For some of those people, it’s the last recording they probably ever did, and most definitely the last video footage of them. So we need to make sure that everybody who wants to has the opportunity to get their hands on this.”
Kenny Wane Shepherd performs with Hubert Sumlin, Pinetop Perkins, Bryan Lee and others Tuesday (April 10th) at the annual WRIF Sabrina Black Foundation Benefit at the Emerald Theatre, 31 N. Walnut St., Mount Clemens. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $32.50 in advance, $35 day of show. Call (586) 913-1920 or visit www.emeraldtheatre.com.
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