Kenny Wayne Shepherd's reverence for his musical roots are center-stage on Ten Days Out...Blues From The Backroads, a CD+DVD package that features the guitarslinger and Double Trouble rhythm section of bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris Layton performing with some of the greatest blues players of our time as well as lesser-known but historically significant bluesmen. Traveling to their hometowns to record everywhere from juke joints to front porches, from New Orleans to Kansas, Shepherd celebrates and becomes part of blues history with Ten Days Out...Blues From The Backroads.
This "back-to-the-roots" road-trip documentary CD/DVD from blues-rocking guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd can be viewed in two ways--it's either the culmination of a long-held desire to promote and play with some unheralded blues veterans before they pass away (as six had already done since the recording was made, 2½ years before its early 2007 release) or a way to regain the blues audience Shepherd all but alienated on his artistically and commercially disappointing 2004 hard-rock release, The Place You're In. Ultimately, it succeeds on both accounts. Regardless of the project's inspiration, the results by and large justify whatever the means might have been to get this show on the road--literally and figuratively. Shepherd hit the highway for a week and a half along with producer Jerry Harrison (ex-Talking Heads), a portable studio, and backup musicians including the rhythm section from Stevie Ray Vaughan's Double Trouble. He searched out blues artists both obscure (the late guitarist Etta Baker, who plays in her kitchen, is a highlight) and better known (Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and B.B. King) for a series of acoustic and electric jams, all of which feature Shepherd--who, to his credit, generally keeps his hot-dogging tendencies in check. A closing concert featuring members of Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters' bands never quite generates the heat it should, but country bluesmen Cootie Stark, Neil Pattman, and harmonica ace Jerry "Boogie" McCain provide plenty of sparks. Shepherd seems sincere enough, but the real stars are the ageing musicians who have maintained their chops and intensity through a lifetime of performing music that clearly comes from the soul. --Hal Horowitz
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Musical appreicaition beyond the Blues, June 15, 2008
This album is awesome! But, if you do not appreciate the Blues, and the essence
of what todays Rock n Roll should be, then you would unfortunately be incapable
of fully appreciating this album. There are few modern day musicians who really
get what music is about, who understand the essence of Rock n Roll, Rock ‘n Roll
with any substance and composition is an extension of the Blues (in the words of
Eric Clapton, I believe). Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Johnny Lang are the only
modern day musicians who really get it. While they may not be the best guitar
soloists of our time, what good are even the best guitar solos, when they exist
within a song with no substance? Music isnt about the best guitar solo,
although I love listening to guitars sing, it’s about composition of musical
harmony. This album isnt really much about Kenny Wayne Shepherd. But it’s
rather a tribute to some of the best Blues musicians of this century it’s about
the musicians who have and continue to inspire the musical aspirations of Kenny,
and hopefully many more modern musicians. Kenny is not the solo guitar soloist
on this album, only a small, but integral one among some of the best Blues
guitarist of all time! As for Johnny Lang, I hope he finds his Blues riffs
again on his next album. There is nothing wrong with finding Religion and
Faith. There are a lot of uplifting songs on his last album. But, Johnny can
make a guitar sing, and his Faith should never get in the way of that, lest it
be the wrong Faith. Kenny’s latest gets my 5 Stars.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, March 31, 2008
Unfortunately Shepherd is lacking in a couple of areas that make this album rub
me the wrong way. Hell never be a legend, but then again how many really are.
For an average blues musician this album has some meat to it.