Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida was filled to the rafters at the start of the Buddy Guy and Kenny Wayne Shepherd concert on October 29, 2021. Many of the 2,200 fans in attendance had held tickets for over a year as the original date had been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The audience danced and cheered throughout the show giving standing ovations to both artists numerous times. The Rolling Stones were playing just across the bridge in Raymond James Stadium and I imagined there wasn’t a soul in the house that even cared.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd started off the night with a track from his latest album ‘Straight To You: Live,‘ “Woman Like You.” Noah Hunt‘s blues vocals got right to it, and the party had begun. KWS has been topping the US Billboard Blues Charts with each of his 11 albums over the past 26 years. KWS has received two Billboard Music Awards, two Blues Music Awards, and has been nominated for five Grammy Awards.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd is the best guitarist I have ever seen. Not just blues guitarists, but all guitarists. I have seen many of the top guitarists, minus Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, which I ranking one and two respectively. I saw KWS three years ago and my jaw just dropped, I knew I was witnessing something very special. Kenny Wayne Shepherd also pays homage to these two icons on my list within his show. You can hear Stevie Ray Vaughan’s style coming through in some songs with a few recognizable riffs or two. Kenny Wayne Shepherd also closed out his show with Jimi Hendrix’s classic “Voodoo Child.” It’s always a special treat seeing my favorite guitarist, but on this night there was an added treat getting to see the great Buddy Guy for the first time.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd – Guitar/Vocals
Noah Hunt – Vocals/Guitar
Chris Layton – Drums
Joe Krown – Keyboards
1.) Woman Like You
2.) True Lies
3.) I Want You (Elmore James cover)
4.) Heat of The Sun
5.) Talk to Me Baby
7.) Down For Love
8.) Oh Well
9.) Blue on Black
10.) Voodoo Child (Jimi Hendrix cover)
Buddy Guy, Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame inductee, winner of eight Grammy Awards, the Presidents National Medal of Arts, and recipient of many more awards has been highly influential to many guitarist. Guitarists; Eric Clapton, John Mayer, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd just to name a few. Buddy Guy was funny, engaging, and entertaining the full set. It was easy to tell at 85 years old, he loved to perform in front of a crowd. The audience fell in love too, as they gave him standing ovations and laughed at all of his quips and jokes.
From his opening song “Darn Right, I’ve Got The Blues,” to his final jam secession with Kenny Wayne Shepherd, those in attendance knew they were witnessing a true great blues guitar legend. I was blown away watching Buddy Guy center stage, behind the microphone, watching his set. He was totally relaxed and performed like he will be doing this for another ten years. He really looked and sounded great!
I am not sure if we were witnessing the passing of the torch, but in some cases the student can surpass the teacher. Only time will tell if Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s resume will surpass that of the great Buddy Guy. One thing is for certain, it was a great night with two extra ordinary musicians performing in an intimate venue.
1.) Darn Right, I’ve Got The Blues
2.) Drowning On Dry Land (Albert King cover)
3.) Someone Else is Steppin’ In (Denise LaSalle cover)
4.) Feels Like Rain (John Hiatt cover)
5.) You Know I Love You Baby
6.) Take Me to The River (Al Green cover)
7.) Skin Deep
8.) I’m a King Bee (Slim Harpo cover)
9.) Buddy Guy and Kenny Wayne Shepherd Jam
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