INTERVIEW: Kenny Wayne Shepherd

There was a time when Kenny Wayne Shepherd was thought of as a blues wunderkind. His deft Stratwork and powerful delivery brought obvious comparisons to Stevie Ray Vaughan, as did his use of SRV’s rhythm section of Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon. But KWS was never an SRV clone. His work has tended to lean more towards the rock aspect of blues-rock than SRV’s did – although that never stopped him from exploring more traditional blues fare as well. New album How I Go, his first studio recording for Roadrunner Records and first since 2004’s The Place You’re In, finds Shepherd exploring both extremes.

There’s a strong rock feel to the album as well as the blues stuff.

I feel like it’s a good balance between blues and rock. We put several blues songs on there – “Backwater Blues,” the Albert King cover “Oh! Pretty Woman,” even the Beatles song “Yer Blues” and several others. I tried to strike a balance between that and the blues-based rock I like to do. I just felt that the last record, The Place You’re In, was a real straight-ahead rock record, and then we did the 10 Days Out project, which was completely traditional blues, and then the Live In Chicago record had a lot of blues on it. So I felt it was time to get back to the middle of the road between the two.

There are some tracks like “The Wire” and “Come On Over” where if you played them a certain way they could almost be 70s-style heavy metal.

Well certainly, but I like to show some dexterity and try some different things, have some different sounds on each record. But the thing is, when you listen to the whole album it still sounds cohesive. Every song sounds like they belong together.

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