[Suncoast Post] Kenny Wayne Shepherd Blows the Roof Off Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota

It was guitar heaven on Thursday night for the SOLD-OUT show in Sarasota’s Van Wezel Performing Arts Hal!. Blues rocker Kenny Wayne Shepherd came to town for the third show on his “Dirt On My Diamonds” tour. The tour is named after his latest album, released in November 2023, which is currently number six on the Billboard Blues albums chart!

Kenny brought along his friend and fellow guitarist Eric Gales to open the guitar-driven show. Eric Gales is an amazing musical force! Considered a child prodigy since the age of four, Gales plays left-handed but is right-handed and takes the guitar to some amazing heights, including upside down. His wife, LaDonna, is on the drums in his band, making it a family affair.  Eric had his first Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album in 2022 for his album “The Crown.”  Eric’s setlists are blues, rock and funk, he is obviously influenced by Jimi Hendrix and B.B. King among others.  Gales has been recording albums since 1991. His live performance is simply mesmerizing to watch! The Sarasota crowd were out of their seats at the end of his set. Kenny Wayne made an excellent choice, bringing Eric along to fire it up! After his performance, Eric came out to the merch table, chatted with fans, and took pics.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd appeared on stage in black jeans, a vest, and a black fedora hat with his Fender Stratocaster. At every show on this tour, Shepherd is giving away some merch and at the end of the tour, one lucky fan will win a Strat from Kenny.   Kenny mixed up his setlist with new tunes, hits, and a couple of great covers! Vocalist Noah Hunt was on board, as he has been with Kenny since 1997. Hunt has a great voice for both rock and blues. Kenny does take over vocals on new songs, “You Can’t Love Me” and “Sweet & Low.” A cover of Sir Elton’s “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fightin” brings a different sound to the song.  Of course, the title track “Dirt OnMy Diamonds” is on the menu complete with a horn section Kenny has brought along.

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