[Loud Hailer Magazine] Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts in Detroit, MI

It has been 24 long years since the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band has played to the blues fans of downtown Detroit. Motown has eagerly awaited this moment, as evident by the blazing “sold-out” marquis sign of the Music Center for the Performing Arts. The venue is packed with concert-goers of all ages, politely filing to take their place for the this epic night of musical memories. A scan across tonight’s stage makes one giddy as we take in a scene of classic blues implements: the quintessential Hammond B3 organ, a vintage National resonator guitar, and numerous vintage Fender amp “sleepers” that humbly hide Alexander Dumble’s secret sauce (purists drool now!). And center stage… we have the mighty Ludwig drum kit of none other than Chris “Whipper “Layton (for those not in know, one half of Double Trouble, Stevie Ray Vaughan’s former drummer)/

Fast forward to game time: 

8:06 PM and stage lights grow dim. An anticipatory crowd stirs to life as we see phantom-like shapes moving in the shadows as they take their place on the MCPA stage. A solo torch ignites, beaming onto a smiling, wide-brim-hatted Kenny Wayne Shepherd, who gently cradles the National resonator. Slicing through the generous ovation, Shepherd lays down the tasty slide lick intro to “Was.” The band joins in and this blues-tacular night is officially underway. The title track of their latest album Dirt On My Diamonds Vol. 1 is next and Layton’s snare hits the sweet spot as the tracks deep groove, an infectious hook is well-received by this crowd. A tech emerges from side-stage with a special delivery… “Martha,” Shepherd’s veeeeeery well worn 1961 Fender Stratocaster, just in time to lead the band into “Sweet & Low.” This new track is a fine example of an evolutionary/contemporary blues tune that is a perfect fit for the year 2024.

Next up is the 30 year-old, billboard buster from the band’s first album “Deja Voodoo.” Co-vocalist Noah Hunt takes to the mic and says, “Hey Detroit, y’all ready for some blues?” The band launches into a smoking cover of the B.B. King classic, “You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now,” followed by a cajun spicy version of Elmore James’ “Talk to Me Baby.” “Heat of the Sun” followed by the brand new tune “You Can’t Love Me” rolls next. This track, with a catchy sing-a-long line like “You can’t love me…if you can’t love yourself” is destined to be a chart topper (and a solid bet for a country crossover). “Ease My Mind,” “I Want You,” and the bodacious little romp, “Diamonds & Gold,” keep energies high and this night firing on all eight cylinders.

A dozen songs deep, KWS steps center stage to treat fans to another golden goodie from their first album…the Hendrixish/Vaughantacular testimonial known as “While We Cry.” The crowd devours every stinging note and masterful hammer on as the squad pushes into overtime with a deluxe extended version of this beauty. The tune winds down and there just might be an implication that the night is near end….. NO says I! The KWSB gives Detroiters a powerful one-two combo encore, starting with their uber famous track “Blue On Black” complete with the audience high-jacking the chorus line. They follow this up with some Vox Wah wizardry and a deeply moving, spiritual outer-body rendition of the Jimi Hendrix classic “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).” Such a fantastic ending to an epic night as the KWSB takes their final bow, and bids Motown farewell… until next time!

The KWSB is a must-see Loud Hailer concert experience that is chocked full of rock and blues goodness that every music lover can enjoy. Check them out on their Dirt On My Diamonds Tour, underway now! Head on over to the band’s official website for concert dates, details, and current news (and be sure to grab a copy of Dirt On My Diamonds Vol. 1, “Thee” must-have blues/rock record for 2024!).

Read full story and view all photos at Loud Hailer Magazine.