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Kenny Wayne Shepherd: a new king crowned

Live Review

Venue: Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

In the month BB King left hospital after his latest health scare, it’s inevitable we should seek a successor to the cherished 89-year-old's throne.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd has met, played with and opened for King, and although modesty would prevent him from claiming a place in its ranks, this native of Shreveport, Louisiana, is among the pack feted for such responsibility.

At just 37, Shepherd already has five Grammy nominations and for the guitarist’s most recent album, 2014’s Goin’ Home, the likes of Warren Haynes, Ringo Starr, Joe Walsh, Robert Randolph and Keb’ Mo’ happily accepted guest roles. KWS is also a member of the supergroup The Rides, along with Stephen Stills.

But it’s not strictly about age. You’ve either got it or you haven’t and within a song or two it becomes unmistakably apparent that Kenny Wayne belongs in the former category.

It helps that he has a solid line-up around him, including Noah Hunt, a specialist, mic-tossing frontman in the Paul Rodgers vein, with whom the guitarist has worked for the past 18 years. Ex-Willie Nelson keysman Riley Osbourn has also served his time, whilst the drummer is none other than Chris Layton of Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble fame, who flies home from here to be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. No wonder they are, somewhat comically, introduced as Kenny Wayne Shepherd And The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band.

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