Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band
The Apocalypse Blues Revue
Thu, September 21, 2017
Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pmThe Cotillion Ballroom
$35.00 - $75.00
This event is all ages
All seating is Reserved. Drink Local! Now Serving Hand-Crafted Beers from Wichita Brewing Company. Nancy's A-Maize-N Sandwiches will be here serving her Famous #8 and more! The Check Room is open during events to check your merchandise purchases, coats, hats and purses. Text BLUES to 49798 for concert updates and chances at FREE tickets.
Special Offer! A digital download of Kenny Wayne Shepherd's new album, Lay It On Down (available August 4, 2017) is included with every ticket you order for this show. You will receive an email with instructions on how to redeem this offer following your ticket purchase.
More than two decades into a recording career that began when he was 16, Kenny Wayne Shepherd has built a powerful reputation as a visionary recording artist, a riveting live performer and one of the most talented and distinctive guitarists of his generation. He’s also earned his stature as one of the contemporary blues world's leading lights, standing at the forefront of a widespread revival of interest in the blues.
Lay It On Down’s ten original songs explore some vital new creative territory while embodying the same raw, rootsy musicality that’s been a common thread in the nine acclaimed albums that Shepherd’s released since he first emerged as a teenaged guitar wunderkind nearly a quarter-century ago. “I wanted to touch on all of the different musical influences that I’ve had over the years,” Shepherd says. “With solid grooves, strong lyrics, good stories and a lot of different sonic textures.”
Shepherd’s deeply expressive songwriting and fiery, forceful playing are in abundant supply throughout the album. Such tunes as the insistently catchy, R&B-inflected “Diamonds & Gold,” the raucous rocker “Baby Got Gone,” the stately country ballad “Hard Lesson Learned,” the slyly humorous “She's $$$” and the sensitive, bittersweet title track find Shepherd and band—longtime vocalist Noah Hunt, drummer Chris “Whipper” Layton (renowned for his prior work with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble), veteran bassist Kevin McCormick and keyboardist Jimmy McGorman—delivering a memorable mix of smart songcraft and blues-steeped instrumental intensity.
Shepherd wrote all of Lay It On Down's songs, with a variety of co-writers, including longtime collaborators Mark Selby and Tia Sillers, and noted tunesmiths Dylan Altman, Brian Maher, Danny Myrick and Keith Stegall.
“For about two years, I’d make trips to Nashville every chance I got to write songs with different people,” Shepherd explains. “When you’re writing with someone else, it’s inevitable that they bring something different to the table, something that I might not have thought of myself. So in an effort to grow as an artist and as a musician, I wanted to write with some different people and see what would come of that. It was kind of a roll of the dice, but it worked out really well, and we got a good mixture of songs from these different collaborations.”
Lay It On Down is the second consecutive album that Shepherd’s recorded in his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana. There, he, his band and co-producer Marshall Altman, along with various guest players providing horns and pedal steel guitar, cut the tracks with an eye towards looseness and spontaneity.
“There were no rehearsals or anything, we just went into the studio and set up and ran the songs down,” says Shepherd. “We all played together in the same room, recorded to two-inch tape and did as few overdubs as possible, just trying to keep it as organic as we could. The stuff that we do is very instinct-oriented and feel-oriented, and it's about capturing moments that happen between people, and you can only get that by actually playing together and letting the creative process flow.”
Recording in Shreveport, according to Shepherd, was a positive influence. “(2014's) Goin’ Home was the first record I had ever recorded in my home town, and I just enjoyed it so much,” he says. “There was something special about making music in the place where I first discovered music, and where I learned how to play guitar. Also, it’s nice waking up and seeing my kids’ faces in the morning, then going to make some music, and then coming back to my own bed instead of a hotel room.”
The deeply-ingrained musical passion that powers Lay It On Down has driven Kenny Wayne Shepherd ever since he taught himself to play guitar at the age of seven, learning classic blues tunes by meticulously studying his dad’s record collection. Since then, his albums have sold millions of copies worldwide and received five Grammy® nominations and two Billboard Music Awards, as well as a pair of Orville H. Gibson awards, the Blues Foundation's Keeping The Blues Alive award and two Blues Music awards. He's also scored six #1 blues albums and a string of #1 mainstream rock singles.
Shepherd was just 16 when he burst onto the national scene with the release of his 1995 debut album Ledbetter Heights. His relentless touring and success on rock radio helped to drive the album to Platinum sales status. His 1998 sophomore effort Trouble Is… also went Platinum and gained a similar level of radio airplay.
1999’s Live On and 2004’s The Place You’re In were similarly successful, and were followed by 2007's ambitious CD/documentary project 10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads, for which Shepherd and his band traveled throughout the American South to record with such blues icons as B.B. King, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Hubert Sumlin, Pinetop Perkins and David “Honeyboy” Edwards.
2010 saw the release of Shepherd’s long-awaited first live album, Live! In Chicago, recorded at Chicago’s House of Blues during the all-star Legends tour. The live disc debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Blues chart, as did 2011’s How I Go. Shepherd then delivered one of his most personal projects to date with 2014’s Goin’ Home, on which he revisited a dozen of the vintage blues classics that originally inspired him to pick up the guitar, with help from an all-star assortment of friends and idols.
In 2013, Shepherd became one-third of blues-rock supergroup The Rides, with legendary veterans Stephen Stills and Barry Goldberg. The Rides continues to tour extensively, and have released two acclaimed albums, Can't Get Enough and Pierced Arrow, that further illuminate Shepherd’s depth and versatility.
“I think I’ve matured a lot in the time since I started recording,” Shepherd concludes. “I’ve learned a lot about subtlety, and I’ve learned to lay back a little bit. I still like to burn and I still like to get down, but I've also grown to understand the value of space, and the value of allowing songs to breathe. I don't feel the need to prove to everybody how fast I can play or how many notes I know. With whatever I’m playing, my goal now is just to try and touch the listener inside. Music is a powerful thing, and it’s important to me to do something positive with it.”
“As far as blues goes, Apocalypse Blues Revue is a little heavier, a little darker, and has some punk rock attitude in the lyrics,” affirms Shannon. “We wanted to make something deep that will provoke thought. It had to be evil though. We’re not trying to make it happy. It’s called blues for a reason! It was also an opportunity to show the world what a phenomenal guitar player Tony is.”
Shannon witnessed Tony’s knack for the style firsthand, while writing together for Godsmack’s 2010 offering The Oracle. Burnt out on metal and hard rock, the pair would loosely jam without boundaries. During one impromptu session in their Southwest Florida rehearsal spot, the drummer laid down a slow, simmering groove, and another side of the guitar player reared its head.
“I couldn’t believe it,” smiles Shannon. “I didn’t even know he was into blues or could play the way he does. My reaction was immediate. We had to officially start a blues band.”
“There’s always been some blues in my playing,” adds Tony. “It came from classic rock like Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and AC/DC. Then, I got into guys like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Gales. We decided to mix it up, merging traditional blues and heavier elements.”
In between breaks from their rigorous Godsmack touring schedule, the duo amassed countless ideas and decided to begin creating songs. Impressed by his Jim Morrison-esque baritone, they welcomed Rafer—who Shannon appropriately met at a biker bar—into the fold. 2013 saw Brian join after the drummer judged a local radio contest he won. With the lineup locked and a slew of shows under their collective belt, the boys cut a demo of “The Devil In Me.” It landed in the hands of Mascot Records who offered them a deal immediately during late 2015, and it also served as the perfect introduction to the group.
“It’s that dark blues man,” says Shannon. “It’s a good snapshot of everything we are.”
In February 2016, Apocalypse Blues Revue entered The Vibe Recording Studio and cut their self-titled debut in just nine days. Mixed by Dave Fortman, the music conjures up swampy soul colored by gusts of rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly over the course of 12 tracks. “The Blues Are Falling from the Sky” shuffles along on a powerful beat as the six-string wails in tandem with smoky vocals.
“I wrote that when we were on tour in Australia with Godsmack,” recalls Shannon. “I was really hungover, missing my family, studio, bed, and pillow. It was raining outside that day, and I came up with the melody and lyric. I ran to Tony’s room and sang it to him. He picked up the guitar and instantly started writing the riff. It’s my favorite song we’ve ever written.”
“It had some really cool off-time signatures,” Tony describes. “I just let the strat speak!”
“Devil Plays A Strat” grinds on a lead guitar screech, wah-wah cry, ominous groove, and heavy stomp. “I love the story,” he smiles. “A guy walks in to this bar with a Les Paul, and he’s going up against Satan on a Stratocaster. It nods to Charlie Daniels Band’s ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia.’”
Elsewhere on the record, slow scorcher “The Tower” features a guest solo from one of Tony’s heroes modern blues icon: Eric Gales.
“I wrote that one the same day I came up with ‘The Blues Are Falling From The Sky,’” Shannon recalls. “I just remember I was staying on one of the top floors in this hotel. I stared out the window, and I could see everybody down below. It was literally a ‘Tower.’”
“Evil Is As Evil Does” kicks off the record with a simmering Southern-style stomp, painting a picture of evil in the world. Ray smiles. “That’s deep heavy blues. It’s got real dark crossroads lyrics, and I gave everything I had right from my gut!”
“Junkie Hell” paints a picture of addiction’s demonic grip. “That one comes from within as well as some things I’ve seen firsthand,” Ray admits. “You’re watching someone go down. However, you wake up one morning, figure it out, and move on. It was powerful.”
Then, there’s “I Think Not,” which stops an antagonist dead in his tracks with Ray’s howl. He adds, “I was on an acoustic guitar, and I was around someone who was trying to hurt me in many ways. I got angry about it. I’ll tell you this, ‘You don’t want to piss off a songwriter and make them personally angry with you. You can end up getting ripped! It’s a true story.”
The ominous “Crossed Over” details as Shannon puts it, “Crossing over to the side. It’s that last big ride.”
“Whiskey In My Coffee” speaks to facing the day—but needing that liquid courage. Its push-and-pull is mirrored in the guitar and vocal tension, ultimately espousing a different escape than downing a bottle.
“Work In Progress” encapsulates the journey that Shannon, Tony, Ray, and Brian have collectively embarked upon together. “This is a work in progress,” says the drummer. “It’s all coming together one step at a time, and we’re rolling with it.”
Meanwhile, “Blue Cross” materialized on a day Shannon showed up to the studio rocking some blue suede shoes. They just started jamming, and the song came to life. “It was about that day,” smiles the singer. “Everybody put their touch on it, and we really gave the song a pair of balls. When Shannon hit that kick drum in those shoes, it’s awesome!”
Everything culminates on their interpretation of The Doors’ “When The Music’s Over.” “We all love The Doors,” he continues. “We end the show with the song, killing the lights and just getting into it. We wanted to play the song our way, and that’s it. All of the changes are subtle. This could be a tradition with doing one The Doors song an album!”
The songs thread together the record’s themes reflected in the name.
“Back in the day, I was in a punk band called Amen,” says Shannon. “I got the nickname ‘Apocalypse’ on tour. It stuck with me, and I got it tattooed on my right forearm. Tony and I came up with the band name together. I connected it to the Blues Brothers, because at the end of the movie they do The Blues Brothers Blues Revue. Hence, the Apocalypse Blues Revue.”
Tony and Shannon’s creative union grows stronger by the gig. It traces back to 2001 when Shannon joined Godsmack. Selling 20 million records worldwide and garnering four GRAMMY® Award nominations, the juggernaut remains a hard rock institution. In 2007, Tony and Shannon would also co-found rock outfit Another Animal together. However, Apocalypse Blues Revue holds a special place in both of their hearts.
“I want people to walk away with our songs stuck in their heads,” Shannon leaves off. “The music speaks for itself on this record.”
“It’s back to basics,” concludes Tony. “I wanted to be able to go to a gig with no production—just an amp, a pedal board, and a guitar—and play.”