The blues-rock icon, who recently re-recorded his 1997 classic collection, plays GLC Live at 20 Monroe on Tuesday. The Local Spins interview with a new video of ‘Blue on Black.’
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Blues-guitar icon Kenny Wayne Shepherd had plenty of reasons to go back and re-record all the tracks from the platinum-selling, 25-year-old album, “Trouble Is…” that put him on the map.
“You see all these artists do these anniversary editions, and basically, they just repackage the same album with new artwork and maybe a bonus track,” Shepherd told Local Spins in a recent interview from his home in Nashville.
“We didn’t want to just halfway do it. It’s a monumental record for my band the genre. I thought it deserved more than just repackaging.”
It also gave his band the opportunity to re-record and include – for the first time – Shepherd’s sizzling rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man” which got left off of the original collection.
“I thought, ‘This is a perfect opportunity to put it on the record,’ and a track fans never new existed.”
Another reason to revisit this classic 1997 blues-rock record? “We wanted to show we can rock just as hard now that we’re middle-aged,” Shepherd said, “and not just when we were young bucks.”
That “young buck” from Louisiana – who got his first Yamaha electric guitar at age 7 and made a splash as a teenager with his debut album – has grown into a 45-year-old father of six (he’s married to Mel Gibson’s daughter, Hannah) who’s one of blues-rock’s most successful artists, with several Grammy Award nominations and a passel of Billboard and Blues Music awards under his belt.
“Trouble Is…” – which features enduring favorites such as “Blue on Black” and “True Lies” – also ranks as one of the genre’s milestone recordings, holding the record for the longest-running album ever on Billboard’s Blues Chart.
Shepherd and his band kick off the spring tour behind “Trouble Is… 25” at GLC Live at 20 Monroe in Grand Rapids on Tuesday (March 14). Tickets, $35-$115, available online here.
The all-star band – Shepherd, drummer Chris Layton, bassist Kevin McCormick, keyboardist Joe Krown and vocalist Noah Hunt – will play the classic album straight through, then return to the stage for a lengthy encore.
AUTHENTIC, AMERICAN ROOTS-BASED MUSIC PLAYED WITH PASSION
Later this year, Shepherd hopes to release a new studio album assembled before the pandemic, along with a rock ’n’ roll covers collection that he recorded in October.
“A lot of what I do has remained the same in regards to how I like to make music – really authentic, American roots-based music and playing with passion the entire time. That’s been the recipe from Day One, to make timeless music,” he said, conceding that he no longer tours 300 days a year as he did in his youth.
“I just think I’ve gotten better at it. … I feel like that what we all gain with age is perspective and wisdom. I’m also lucky to have a wonderful family as well. Commitment to balance is really important.”
He’s also committed to giving a boost to younger, up-and-coming artists making their way through the music industry thicket.
“I just try and continue the tradition that I was taught. I’ve made my platform available to people like them, sharing my audience with them and encouraging them to do the music they love,” he said.
Part of sharing that tradition — inspired by the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, B.B. King, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and others — comes with sharing songs from an iconic 25-year-old album on this U.S. tour.
“People are so familiar with this record. We sold millions of copies of this album and you see people singing along with almost every song,” Shepherd said.
“They’re fired up about it and we’re fired up about bringing it to them.”
VIDEO: Kenny Wayne Shepherd, “Blue on Black-25” (Live)
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