Stoneman Talks With Kenny Wayne Shepherd About His New Album

The Traveler

June 12, 2019

Mark Seliger, Daybreak Entertainment

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On May 31st, Concord Records released "The Traveler," an album of experience and profound resonance by the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band.  Recorded in Los Angeles, while the band was on a break from their uncompromising tour schedule that left them road-tested and ready to rock, "The Traveler" showcases some world-class musicians: vocalist Noah Hunt, drummer Chris “Whipper” Layton (formerly of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Double Trouble), bassist Kevin McCormick, and keyboardists Jimmy McGorman and Joe Krown.  The album features ten songs including eight new originals co-written by KWS and some of Nashville’s most in-demand songwriters, plus incendiary covers of Buffalo Springfield’s “Mr. Soul” and Joe Walsh’s “Turn to Stone.”

 

"We're all fellow travelers in this thing called life," asserts Kenny Wayne Shepherd. "We've been around the world many times over, and it's the music and our fans that have taken us there. We've been able to do things and see things and go places that were just a dream at one point, and it's all because of the music and the people who support it."

Indeed, the Louisiana native has covered a lot of ground in his near-quarter-century career, and his new album The Traveler, set for release on May 31, 2019 via Concord Records, is a consistently compelling manifestation of Shepherd's multiple talents. Both a world-class guitarist with deep roots in the blues, and a singularly charismatic songwriter and performer, Shepherd has built an incredibly accomplished resume that reflects his lifelong love for the blues.  Along the way, he's sold millions of albums worldwide and received five GRAMMY® nominations, two Billboard Music Awards, as well as a pair of Orville H. Gibson awards, the Blues Foundation's Keeping The Blues Alive award, and two Blues Music awards. He's scored seven #1 blues albums and a string of #1 mainstream rock singles.

The ten-songs on The Traveler feature some of the most distinctive and resonant music of Shepherd's career. Such new originals as "Woman Like You," "Long Time Running," "I Want You," "Gravity" and "Tailwind" (whose heartfelt lyrical metaphor provides the album's title image) offer a scintillating balance of finesse and firepower, while the artist pays tribute to his influences with a pair of inventive cover versions. The seed for Shepherd's menacing take on Buffalo Springfield's classic "Mr. Soul" was planted when he performed the song at a benefit show with Springfield founders Stephen Stills and Neil Young, and his epic reading of Joe Walsh's "Turn to Stone" was first performed by Shepherd at a fundraising concert honoring Walsh.

The Traveler once again showcases some world-class musicians: vocalist Noah Hunt, drummer Chris "Whipper" Layton (formerly of Stevie Ray Vaughan's Double Trouble), bassist Kevin McCormick, and keyboardists Jimmy McGorman and Joe Krown.

2010 saw the release of Shepherd's first live album, Live! In Chicago; it debuted at #1 on Billboard's Blues chart, as did 2011's How I Go. Shepherd then delivered one of his most personal projects to date with 2014's Goin' Home, on which he revisited a dozen of the vintage blues classics that had originally inspired him to pick up the guitar. Goin' Home and 2017's Lay It On Down were Shepherd's first albums recorded in his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana.

In 2013, Shepherd and classic-rock legends Stephen Stills and Barry Goldberg formed the blues-rock supergroup The Rides, releasing the album Can't Get Enough in 2013 and the follow-up Pierced Arrow three years later, and toured widely to support both releases, the bandmates rising to the challenge of balancing the band with their individual careers.

"You always have to adapt," he says. "The industry is completely different now than when I started making records. But ultimately, it's still about moving people, and about getting better at communicating with the listener. The fact that the longtime fans still show up for my concerts – and new ones are joining us for the journey – that's the biggest measure of success for me. That makes me feel like I'm on to something."