On Saturday August 5 2023, I made the quick jaunt to the Uptown Theatre in Napa, California. This 863 seat venue is one of my favorite to visit. While it’s a bit of a tough shoot, there is not a bad seat in the house. And that, is a good thing because hitting the stage was Kenny Wayne Shepherd. This stop was an extension of his Trouble is….25 tour.
Opening with “Woman Like You”, the crowd was into it from the first note. The band was tight, polished and captivated the crowd instantly. The second song was the Buffalo Springfield classic, “Mr. Soul”. Between Kenny Wayne’s smooth blues-y guitar riffs and Noah’s suave southern rock vocals, they owned it. I think the audience agreed because they were totally into it. It was definitely the best live version of the song I have heard.
From there they mixed it up with some newer stuff before breaking into four songs from their first album Ledbetter Heights. When Kenny Wayne announced these songs, he teased that the 30th anniversary of that album was coming up and maybe we would see a tour of the whole first album (Yes please!). The crowd roared with applause. After those four songs, they went back to a newer song, “Down For Love”, before slaying another cover. This time was Joe Walsh‘s “Turn To Stone”. It always amazes me when an artist can take a song and make it their own and that version to be, possibly, better than the original. This was one of those times. This was also the last song of the first part of the set.
After a few minutes, the band came back on stage and broke out the acoustic guitars for the beginning of “Blue on Black”. After the intro, Kenny Wayne handed off his acoustic guitar and dove right into the electric parts of the song all while Noah was wooing the crowd with the vocals. Next up, was a cover of Slim Harpo‘s “I’m A King Bee”. This song was first recorded in 1957 by Slim Harpo and was blues through and through. Kenny Wayne upped the tempo and gave it a more contemporary sound without loosing the blues roots of it. At this point no on was sitting in their seats. Instead, they were dancing in front of them and in the isles.
They finished up the set with the Jimi Hendrix Experience‘s “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”. All I can say is wow. I have heard this played live by several people and this was the best version I have ever heard. Kenny Wayne even played part of the solo behind his head!
Everyone says, “Kenny Wayne Shepherd is one of the greatest guitar players alive today” and I would have to agree with them. He is impressive on records but those records only capture a small part of the on stage talent he exudes. After nearly every song, there was a standing ovation so, I think everyone was in agreement. This guy shreds! If you can, catch him and the rest of the guys in a town near you and you will not be disappointed.
The Kenny Wayne Shepherd band members are:
Kenny Wayne Shepherd – lead guitar/vocals
Noah Hunt – vocals/rhythm guitar/percussion
Chris Layton – drums
Kevin McCormick – bass
Joe Krown – keyboards
1). Woman Like You
2). Mr. Soul (Buffalo Springfield cover)
3). Long Time Running
4). I want You
5). Diamonds & Gold
6). Deja Voodoo
7). Shame, Shame, Shame
8). Born With A Broken Heart
9). While We Cry
10). Down For Love
11). Turn To Stone (Joe Walsh cover)
12). Blue On Black
13). I’m A King Bee (Slim Harpo cover)
14). Voodoo Child (Slight Return) (The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)
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Photographer of about 10 years, I have been shooting concerts for about 8 of those years. I started to get serious about concert photography about 6 or 7 years ago and now try to shoot as many as I can. I shoot mostly rock but, have done some country and big band stuff. I love music and since I am nowhere close to being a musician, this is a way I can be a small part of what, in the words of Henry Rollins, “gets me through the highs, the lows and everything in between”.