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Interview:
Kenny Wayne Shepherd in Royal Oak, 5 Things to Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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Once upon a time, Kenny Wayne Shepherd was a teen prodigy in the blues and rock worlds.



Now he's a seasoned veteran.



Since 1995 the 41-year-old guitarist has released seven studio albums and has been nominated for multiple Grammy Awards. He's been a regular participant in the Experience Hendrix tours and formed the "supergroup" the Rides with Stephen Stills and Barry Goldberg of the Electric Flag. Off stage he's produced five children with his wife Hannah, the daughter of actor-director Mel Gibson.



Shepherd is currently between albums, still supporting 2017's "Lay It Down" -- which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Blues Albums chart. But, he tells us, there's still plenty going on...



"Lay It Down," a more rocking follow-up to 2014's rootsier "Goin' Home," was Shepherd's eighth No. 1 on the Billboard Blues chart, and he says he's been pleased with the reception since its release during August of 2017. "You never know how people are going to react to it. But watching people come and sing along to the songs, I think it's been very well received and very effective for us. In the beginning of the tour we were doing almost the whole record, like seven out of 10 songs. We're still doing five now; We recently changed the set list up and put some songs into the set list we hadn't done for many years. But the new material is going over well."



Shepherd has already recorded his next album during March, with plans to release it during the first half of 2019. "We did a variety of songs, so it could go a number of different ways -- but this one is shaping up to be a little more of a rocker, definitely a contemporary record like ('Lay It Down.'). It's shaping up to be a little more edgy, I would say. We were in a new studio, in Los Angeles, so it took about two days to get everything (sounding) exactly the way we wanted, but once we got it all sorted out we were off to the races."



Shepherd is eyeballing a third album with The Rides to follow up 2016's "Pierced Arrow." "Stephen texted me the other day and wanted to get together. He has one more log of the tour he's doing with Judy (Collins), and during Christmas break he wants to be back together and start working on new stuff. Barry and I got together several months ago; He came over to my house and we started working on three or four songs already."



Shepherd is also "in the planning stages" for another "10 Days Out; Blues from the Backgrounds," a documentary film and platinum album he did during 2007 exploring American roots music. "We're hoping to get everything sorted out and start filming it next year. It depends on who we're going to have be part of it. Once we determine who the artists are, that determines the destinations, so we're waiting on all that to come together."



Shepherd is an automobile enthusiast, with what he calls "a pretty modest" but still growing collection of his own. "I remember loving cars as far back as I can remember loving guitars," he says by phone. "My music career has given me the opportunity to pursue my passion in cars. I've done some events for General Motors and stuff in Detroit, when I get a chance. We did one show in Flint' I did the sound check and walked outside the theater and saw the Buick museum right across the street, so I went over and checked it out. Any time I'm around something that's car-related, I try to go if I get some free time."



The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band and the Peterson Brothers perform Tuesday, Nov. 6, at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St. Doors at 7 p.m. $35 advance, $40 day of show. 248-399-2980 or royaloakmusictheatre.com.

Web Site: www.royaloakmusictheatre.com

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