[WBGO] Blues ace Kenny Wayne Shepherd goes vintage to achieve fresh sound

When planning his next record, Kenny Wayne Shepherd decided to gather a group of songwriters and head to FAME Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where so many great albums were made by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Clarence Carter, Etta James, Wilson Pickett, Jason Isbell, and more. “I wanted to do something different and for the past several years I’ve kind of been on this mission to get out of my comfort zone and do some different things. Because I know that when you’re uncomfortable that growth really happens,” Shepherd said. “We went down there to soak up the vibe in that studio. It’s like a time warp. You walk into that building and it literally looks exactly the same way it did when all those legendary records were done there. It left an imprint on the music that we created. Our goal the next time is to go down there again and to write the stuff and record the album down there as well.” 

The process was unique. Shepherd would play an idea for one songwriting team in the studio, then to another group in the control room, then to another in the office. “We got a big group of guys together. We would have simultaneously three different songs being written,” he said. The result is Dirt on My Diamonds, Volume 1 and it worked. The album is #1 on the Billboard Blues Album chart for the fifth straight week. This is not your granddaddy’s blues. The record sounds very big and vibrant and of course, features Shepherd’s legendary guitar chops. “We’re bringing a horn section back to the band. It keeps it interesting for us, musically, dynamically, and also interesting for the fans that continue to see us every time we come to town.” Volume 2 has also been recorded and is expected to be released later in 2024.

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