In a 20-year recording career that began when he was just 16, Shepherd has established himself as an immensely popular recording artist, a consistently in-demand live act and an influential force in a worldwide resurgence of interest in the blues. Now, the five-time GRAMMY® nominee delivers one of his most personal projects to date with Goin' Home, his eighth album and his first to be recorded in his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana.
Recorded in a mere 11 days, Goin' Home finds Shepherd revisiting a dozen of the vintage blues classics that first ignited his love of the blues and inspired him to play guitar. The artist's sharp interpretive skills and sublime guitar work shine on his renditions of tunes originally popularized by such blues icons as B.B. King, Albert King, Freddie King, Muddy Waters, Magic Sam, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells.
And for these recordings, Shepherd assembled a mind-boggling collection of music greats to contribute their many talents including: Ringo Starr, Joe Walsh, Warren Haynes, Keb' Mo', Robert Randolph, Fabulous Thunderbirds front man Kim Wilson, the Rebirth Brass Band and Pastor Brady Blade, Sr.
In 2012 the band and I were in the midst of our US tour. Before embarking on the summer leg of the tour, I noticed an eleven-day break in our schedule. In the preceding months I had been discussing with management ideas for the next several records. One of the ideas we tossed around was to do an album exploring the music of some of my biggest influences. Inspired by that conversation, coming away from that meeting began a process of reflection on my life as an artist that goes back to the very early days of my childhood. I began digging deep into the catalogs of my heroes once again, listening to songs that in some instances I hadn’t heard in many years. Much of this experience brouth up many vivid memories and brought me back home remembering my life as a young impressionable child growing up in Shreveport, LA inspired and electrified by the music and artists of the Blues. While all of my friends were busy doing “typical” children activities, I spent countless hours studying the forefathers of the Blues. Armed with my guitar, a record player, cassette deck and eventually a cd player, along with my dad’s vast and ever growing music collection, I began to hone in on the influences that would help me become the musician I am today. A tedious process at first, I pieced together songs one note at a time from beginning to end until I could play them all the way through by memory. Now, once again I found myself repeating that process in preparation for this record. It seemed I had come full circle in a sense. The whole thing became a homecoming of sorts...returning to my roots. I felt it would only be appropriate to go back home to where it all began to record this album. It’s hard to believe, but this is the first album I have recorded in my hometown. There wasn’t a proper recording facility in Shreveport before, but now we had the perfect place to record with the opening of Blade Studios. And so, for eleven days in the month of September Noah, Chris, Riley, Tony and I went to Louisiana and did what we do best...play the Blues.
From the very beginning I wanted to make this record the way recordings used to be made. That meant the band performances would be done “live” in the studio with very minimal overdubbing, no auto-tune anywhere in any song, no click tracks and using analog machines with 2” tape and mixing to ½ “ tape as well. I compiled a list of songs and artists and the band weighed in with their thoughts and suggestions. Twenty-two songs were chosen in all and we set up and began recording. Not all twenty-two songs made it on this record, but the ones that were chosen we felt made a solid and complete album. The end result is a great recording that I believe pays homage to the spirit of the original music and at the same time show our appreciation for the musicians and genre that have inspired us to make music for decades.
In my years of performing I have been blessed to make some tremendously talented and generous friends along the way. Some of them took time out of their busy schedules to contribute to the making of this record; to them I’d like to say “thank you” from the bottom of my heart for joining us on this voyage of musical reflection.
I hope you all enjoy this album and that maybe it will inspire you to go seek out more musicians of the Blues and enjoy what they have to offer.
- Kenny Wayne Shepherd
“Few guitar players can bend the strings the way ALBERT KING could. The raw emotion that poured forth from his guitar combined with the unique sound of using a right-handed guitar upside-down with no pick has always been music to my ears. The two songs we did by Albert on this album both have a significant story to them. ‘Born Under A Bad Sign’ has been the intro music before our concerts for a while now, when we hear that song come on we know it’s time to hit the stage. We have also played it in our set from time to time over the years. ‘Breaking Up Somebody’s Home’ is a song that I played with Warren Haynes when I say in with Gov’t Mule in Austin, TX and Paris, France. The song sounded so good with Warren and me together that I asked Warren if he would be ok with us recording the song for this record and if he would join us on it as well. “
“At the age of 14, I found myself spending the day in Dallas, TX with one of the most electrifying people in the Blues, BUDDY GUY.
I had already had a deep appreciation for Buddy’s talent because I collected and listened to just about everything he had played on from the current day all the way back to his earliest recordings. In that moment, at 14 years old, I had no idea that many more times I would be seated next to the same Buddy Guy. Over the years I have shared many good times both on and off stage with Buddy. For this record I chose to do one of the songs from an era in his career that is one of my favorites. I have always love the music created by Buddy Guy and JUNIOR WELLS. I think they were one of the most interesting duos in Blues Music. ‘Cut You Loose’ was a standout track for me because I always liked the way Buddy and Junior would sing the chorus and hook line together in harmony which isn’t always so common with Blues songs.”
I have known and played with the King of the Blues since I was 15 years old. In that time he has become another father to me, going so far as to call me ‘son’ instead of Kenny. Not many people are able to have the kind of impact on the world as B.B. KING. Through his music he has touched people’s lives for generations and will continue to do so for the rest of time. B.B. is one of my biggest influences, encouraging me to focus on vibrato and playing the right notes at the right time. No musician has better shown that sometimes you can say everything you need to say with just one note. ‘You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now’ has always been one of my favorite songs, particularly the version from ‘Live at the Regal’”
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard guitar players say they first picked up a guitar because of FREDDIE KING. The man had it all. Powerful vocals, searing guitar tone and groove for days. The two songs on this record were chosen because of their own merits. ‘Palace of the King’ is a rocking song with many interesting different musical parts all uniquely contributing to the end result. ‘Boogie Man’ is a greasy mid-tempo song with a hypnotic piano part played on the original by Leon Russell that draws the listener in and keeps you engaged for the duration of the song. That track also allowed me to step out of my normal role of playing rhythm guitar throughout the song and just focus on the singing and playing fills and solos like a lot of Bluesmen tend to do.”
“The first time I met BO DIDDLEY I was on the road with B.B. King. Bo was part of the tour, but didn’t like to keep a permanent band around, so I was asked if I could back him up with my band. Of course I said ‘yes’, and for the duration of the tour I would play my set and then come back out to back up Bo Diddley. On that tour we shared a dressing room and many good times together. Bo is another one of those guys that created a distinct sound for his music and he’s the only man I know who had a drum beat named after him, which is one of the reasons we chose this song for this record. Chris Layton and I talked and agreed ‘Can’t Judge a Book’ would be an interesting choice because it was a Bo Diddley song that didn’t have that signature ‘Bo Diddley beat.”
“Is a great example of a Bluesman who had a signature sound and the instinct to know how to adapt his music to fit into the transitions that were taking place in music at the time. His gritty vocals, risque’ lyrics, and pick-less guitar playing made for an immediately identifiable signature sound. Starting off with more of a traditional Blues approach, both Johnny’s appearance and his music morphed over time to become a pioneer of the Funk and Disco era. A true showman, Johnny’s music has influenced generations of guitar players. ‘Looking Back’ was chosen for this record because of it’s early Rock n Roll groove and playful flirtatious lyrics”
“As far back as I can remember, MAGIC SAM has been a favorite of mine. I love both the sound of his voice and the way he plays guitar. His influence on my music can be heard on several songs I’ve written over the years, most notably on ‘Somehow, Somewhere, Someway’ which is a variation on one of Magic Sam’s most famous signature riffs. I have always wanted to record some of his songs and now was the time. I love blues songs with a positive message, so ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright’ was a perfect candidate for this album as it expresses the uninhibited love from a man to his woman.”
If I could be one person for a day, I would want to be MUDDY WATERS. I used to listen to Muddy as loud as I could on the way to school every day, envying the time Johnny Winter spent in a band with the Blues icon. One of the main reasons I didn’t sing on my albums for years was because I wanted to sound like Muddy Waters and I just couldn’t get beyond the fact that I didn’t. It took me a long time to feel comfortable enough to step up to the mic and try singing one of Muddy’s songs. Much of what I have learned about vocal phrasing I have learned from Muddy and his ability to blend singing with an almost conversational approach and this song is no exception. Though I tend to gravitate to more positive Blues songs, I have always liked the songs Muddy recorded whether they were happy like ‘Life the Life I Love’, or sexy and dark, as in the case of ‘Still a Fool.”
“To say that STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN was a major influence in my life would be an understatement. He undeniably lit the fire inside of me to play the way I do. If it weren’t for SRV, there may not have been a KWS. I had the great fortune of seeing SRV and Double Trouble play many times; but both the first time and the last time I saw them live, I got to watch the show from the side of the stage and found myself completely mesmerized. At the last show I attended, Stevie signed my very first Stratocaster for me. At the time, I couldn’t find the words to tell him how big of an impact his music had on me, but I have spent the rest of my life expressing that gratitude thru the music that I play. The band and I talked long and hard about what SRV song to do and ultimately Chris Layton made the call for ‘House Is Rockin.’ I think it was a perfect choice. We paid tribute to the original while injecting a little something new to it as well.”
“Some of my earliest memories of learning to play guitar are of me sitting in my dad’s living room listening to HOWLIN’ WOLF. His raspy voice was otherwordly to a young boy of my age and HUBERT SUMLIN's guitar sang sounds of joy with each note. I learned a lot from those records as a kid and went on to meet Hubert during the 10 Days Out: Blues From The Backroads album we did. From 2004 until Hubert’s passing in 2011 he and I grew very close, as he became another one of my adopted fathers. He told me a lot of stories, taught me a lot about guitar, and showed me what life is all about. I am forever grateful for his presence in my life and recorded this song in Hubert’s honor.”
“Being a proud Louisiana native, I enjoy the music created by the people of my home state. This album is the first one I have ever recorded in my hometown, so I wanted to include some music by some fellow Louisianans. Growing up in New Orleans, LEE DORSEY was expsed to a melting pot of musical styles which all find their way into his music. Allan Toussaint, another New Orleans legend, produced the majority of Lee’s recordings and he also wrote this song. ‘Can You Hear Me’ is a feel good song about having a good time, which we all like to do down south.”
“Another extremely talented Louisiana guitar player and singer. EARL KING and his music have influenced some of the biggest guitar heroes on the planet. From Hendrix to SRV, Earl’s music has been covered time and time again for new generations of music lovers to enjoy. Wired into the Louisiana music scene, Earl had links to both Lee Dorsey and Allan Toussaint as well. The song ‘Trick Bag’ comes from his Imperial recordings era and has been a favorite of mine for some time.”