Another trip to one of my favorite little venues to see one of my favorite bands and a new one.
I had never seen Beth Hart before, and had never even heard of her prior to this tour announcement. That was unfortunate for me. This lady puts on a heck of a show! She has this sultry, and at times hypnotic kind of voice that portrays a full range of emotions. Some of her songs were a bit raunchy, and at one point, she was encouraging the audience to parrot back some not-so-polite phrases (which she delighted in when we did it). Some songs were tear-inducing, like when she sang about her mother. Still others were dark, like when she sang about her struggles with mental illness. All were from the heart, full of life experiences, raw and real. This wasn’t the head-banging kind of show I usually go to. This was the kind of show you sit back and enjoy, that makes you really feel something.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band has been a favorite of mine for a long time. Blues with a twist - songs with hints of everything from country to rock to pop to jazz, but always rooted in the blues (as Kenny himself usually reminds the audience at his shows). Many people can play guitar well, some exceptionally well. What makes Kenny Wayne Shepherd so special is the passion with which he plays. His guitar is not just a tool for his creativity, but an extension of his body and mind, maybe even his soul. It speaks for him in this magical language called music. While Kenny goes off into his own little world during a solo, his guitar weaves the tale he wants us to hear, enticing the audience to come along for the ride. It’s mesmerizing.
Kenny would be entertaining on his own, but vocalist Noah Hunt is also an amazing talent, putting the finishing touch on so many of the band’s songs. His smoky, soulful delivery is amazingly powerful, yet warm and soothing at the same time. He and Kenny make a great team, musically speaking, and it’s no wonder they’ve been doing this as long as they have and with such success. “Heat of the Sun” is a good example of how they work together on stage, and one of my personal favorite songs. It’s a beautiful love song, that begins slowly, rising to climax during the guitar solo, then calming to to an easy finish. On stage, Noah’s voice, and the emotion in it, seems to wrap you up like a warm blanket, the intensity starting to build as the solo nears. Then Noah retreats to allow Kenny and his guitar to continue the story, which he does, taking it to a passionate crescendo, the music soaring into the stratosphere before diving back down to earth, exhausted. Finally, Noah steps back in to wrap us back in that warm, comfortable blanket, and they both lead us gently to the end of the song.
Kenny also sings on some songs, and his brighter vocal tones provide a delightful contrast to Noah’s during their set. I love to hear him fo "Baby Got Gone" live - it rocks! To round out the band are long-time members Chris Layton on drums and Joe Krown on keys. My apologies to their new bass player, but I didn’t catch his name. The set was very similar to last year’s, but no complaints! Five of the tunes were from their latest album, Lay It On Down, which is fantastic, if you haven't heard it. They are one of those bands that I never seem to tire of listening to. The full set list is below.
Once again, only cell phone photos from this show, and not too many - I was too busy enjoying the music!
Never Lookin' Back
Ride of Your Life
House is Rockin'
Hard Lesson Learned
Baby Got Gone
Down For Love
Heat of the Sun
Talk To Me Baby
Born With a Broken Heart
Diamonds and Gold
You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now
Blue On Black