The Scene with Doreen

The Scene with Doreen

Episode 48 | Blues-Rock Guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd & Music Director/Saxophonist for Glenn Miller Orchestra Erik Stabnau | 04-11-24 *Extended Cut* Download

00:01 Download April 11th

Kenny Wayne Shepherd bio via AllMusic.com

You can read about all the latest news and tour dates on his site KennyWayneShephert.net

Blues-rock guitarist and songwriter Kenny Wayne Shepherd first achieved success at a young age and since the mid-’90s he has released a string of popular albums that show off his aggressive and hard rocking country-blues style. His 1995 debut album, Ledbetter Heights, garnered massive radio airplay and media attention on its way to topping the blues charts and being certified platinum. Several of the albums that followed zoomed to the top of the blues charts and a number of singles, like 1998’s scorching “Blue on Black, have been hits. 2014’s Goin’ Home not only hit number one at blues but landed inside the Top 100 on the U.S. album charts. Shepherd had a string of number one albums on the Billboard Blues charts into the 2020s, a period of time where he honed and expanded his sound, leading him to the soul-injected 2023 set Dirt on My Diamonds, Vol. 1.

Shepherd was born June 12, 1977, in Shreveport, Louisiana. He began playing at the age of seven, figuring out Muddy Waters’ licks from his father’s record collection (he has never taken formal lessons). At age 13, he was invited on-stage by New Orleans bluesman Bryan Lee and held his own for several hours, after which he decided on music as a career. He formed his own band, which featured lead vocalist Corey Sterling, and gained early exposure through club dates and, later, radio conventions.

Shepherd’s father/manager used his own contacts and pizzazz in the record business to help land his son a major-label record deal with Giant Records. Ledbetter Heights, his first album, was released two years later in 1995 and was an immediate hit, selling over 500,000 copies by early 1996. Most blues records never achieve that level of commercial success, much less those released by artists still in their teens. Influenced by (and having played with) guitarists Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert King, Slash, Robert Cray, and Duane Allman, Shepherd is a performer who thrives in front of an audience. Ledbetter Heights is impressive for its range of styles: acoustic blues, rockin’ blues, Texas blues, and Louisiana blues.

Released in 1998, Trouble Is… earned a Grammy nomination and Live On followed a year later. In 2004, The Place You’re In was released on Reprise Records, and was the first album to feature Shepherd taking on the majority of lead vocals (singer Noah Hunt handled the lead on the previous two albums). Shepherd’s next project saw him traveling the American South with a documentary film crew and a portable recording studio as he backed up several veteran blues players on their home turf. The resulting album and film, 10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads, appeared in 2007, and Live! In Chicago followed in 2010. That November, Shepherd joined Jimmy Fallon’s house band on TV for an evening, performing with the same Fender Stratocaster that Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock.

Although Shepherd stayed busy in the intervening years, 2011’s How I Go was his first studio album proper in seven years. In an attempt to revive the success of 1998’s Trouble Is…, he once again recruited Noah Hunt on vocals, as well as former Talking Heads keyboard player and guitarist Jerry Harrison, who had produced the sessions for that platinum-selling album. Shepherd followed How I Go with 2014’s Goin’ Home, a tribute to his musical heroes that featured contributions from artists such as Ringo Starr and Keb’ Mo’. The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band returned in 2017 with Lay It on Down, a record cut in Shreveport, Louisiana’s Echophone Studios and his eighth to top the blues charts.

In late 2018, Shepherd entered a Los Angeles studio with his band, vocalist Noah Hunt, drummer Chris Layton (ex-Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble and Johnny Winter And), bassist Kevin McCormick, and keyboardists Jimmy McGorman and Joe Krown. A pre-released single, “Woman Like You,” was issued at the end of March 2019, followed by the full-length The Traveler at the end of May, his first for Provogue. Shepherd made his debut at the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival later in the summer. The following year brought the live CD/DVD combo Straight to You Live recorded in Germany.

Shepherd celebrated the 25th anniversary of Trouble Is… with Trouble Is..25, a revisiting of his 1997 album with the original producer. He quickly followed the record with Dirt on My Diamonds, Vol. 1, a soulful session largely recorded at the fabled FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

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Tenor saxophonist Erik Stabnau brings his lifelong enthusiasm for big band music to each performance of the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Having grown up with a love for the music of the swing era, Erik naturally gravitated toward Glenn Miller, drawn to his recognizable melodies and the distinctive sound of his reed section. A Western New York native, Erik learned to play the saxophone, flute, and clarinet in a variety of disciplines before developing an interest in the large ensembles of Ellington, Basie, Dorsey, Miller, and others. Excited to pursue a future in music, he attended college at the Eastman School of Music in his hometown of Rochester, earning a bachelor’s of music in Jazz and Contemporary Media. Intent on broadening his education, Erik went on to study music business and recording with a masters degree in Audio Arts from Syracuse University. Prior to his time with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Erik performed and recorded as a bandleader and sideman throughout the Northeast, adding to his credentials experience as an educator, clinician, writer, and arranger. He was thrilled with the opportunity to join the orchestra in June 2017 on tenor saxophone, playing the music and solos that Tex Beneke first made famous in the 1930’s and 40’s. As a member of the band, Erik has performed across the US in 48 states and abroad in Canada and Japan and now is honored to step in front of the orchestra as its music director.

 

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