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Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Friends Have No Trouble Rockin' the Ryman in Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch

The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band continues to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Trouble is... with a popular tour that included a stop at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee on January 27, 2023. Anticipation was high on Friday night and fans would not be disappointed as KWS rocked the rafters of the Mother Church of Country Music playing the legendary album in its entirety followed by a second whole set of music.

The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band celebrated the 25th anniversary of Trouble is... in Nashville.

Back in 1997, the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band released what would become a career defining sophomore effort. Trouble is... - is basically two perfect album sides - no fillers just solid blues-infused rock n' roll that has stood the test of time. If you go back and listen to the CD - it still sounds so good and in the live setting these songs have only gotten better with age as the group has added jams and nuances to the original tunes. As you may recall, Trouble is... featured the no. 1 Mainstream Rock hit "Blue on Black", which also reached no. 78 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The album also spawned three further rock hits, including "Slow Ride", "Somehow, Somewhere, Someway", and "Everything Is Broken" - a Bob Dylan cover. Plus, "I Don't Live Today" by Jimi Hendrix proved that KWS at the ripe old age of 20 was a master of the six string. Trouble Is ... was certified Gold by the RIAA in 1998 and certified Platinum in 1999. An updated 25th anniversary edition of the album, Trouble is...25 came out in December 2022 including a documentary film to help tell its impressive story.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd was a commanding presence on the famed Ryman stage.

Above the Ryman stage was a screen where a young KWS explained that he enjoyed writing poetry and putting it to music. The lights went on and the band was already on stage going straight into the title track segueing into a smoking version of "Somehow, Somewhere, Someway". The spotlight soon found Kenny stepping up early to serve up the first of many generous portions of sizzling guitar licks. Lead singer Noah Hunt with his deep and expressive voice is still a powerful presence while the rhythm section maintained the all-important groove. Special effects along with videos including vintage clips of the band added to the passionate and polished production at the Ryman.

"Grateful to be still playing this," said Kenny while mentioning how this celebratory anniversary tour keeps getting extended into new markets. He added that they would play the whole album but not necessarily in order which added an element of surprise to the first half of the show. Shepherd also shared that a lot of fans said that "I Found Love (When I Found You)" was an important part of their lives which he also really appreciated. The lovely live version of that track included images from Kenny's wedding day along with more family photos. Other high-points of the first set featured Kenny on the floor conjuring up strange sounds from the guitar while performing "I Don't Live Today" (Jimi Hendrix) flowing into a blazing "Blue on Black" before sliding into "Slow Ride" to conclude the first set in triumph.

Noah Hunt has been a powerful presence in the band for over 25 years.

The band returned quickly for the second half in which they played a number of songs from The Traveler (2019). Special guest Reese Wynans took a seat at the keyboards in advance of the next bonus of the night which would be Joe Bonamassa joining in on "Diamonds & Gold" and "Talk to Me Baby" (Elmore James cover). Its always a blast to watch two guitar greats trade leads on the classics. JB and Kenny have become goods friends making appearances together and sharing festival billings all in the name of keeping the blues alive. KWS closed with "Heat of the Sun" and an electrifying and expansive "You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now" to end this celebration on an elevated note.

As mentioned, there was high anticipation for the well-respected KWS but there was also a bit of a buzz for the opening act. The house was close to full when Samantha Fish and her band took the stage. Samantha is an award-winning artist, singer/songwriter/guitarist whose vibrant riffs match her dramatic vocal range. On her new album Faster she joined forces with super-producer Martin Kierszenbaum (Lady Gaga, Sting, Sheryl Crow) who imbues even more intensity into her electrifying brand of blues/rock-and-roll, which was on full display at the Ryman.

Reese Wynans, Joe Bonamassa and Chris Layton in Music City.

The well-dressed group hit us hard with the brash "Bulletproof (Tangle Eye Mix)" and "Better Be Lonely" both featuring stellar guitar work from Samantha. "Hello Stranger" (Barbara Lewis cover) allowed the singer to show a more soulful side while "No Angels" soared on more riveting riffs flowing into the dreamy "Dream Girl" countered with a bluesy and bold "Black Wind Howlin'".

Like many genres the blues continues to evolve. Thanks to KWS and Samantha Fish it will reach new fans. Artists like KWS often pay their respects to the past by playing older covers while crafting their own versions of the blues that appeal to a modern audience. The blues has a rich history that deserves to be heard and thankfully there are musicians doing their part to preserve it. So come celebrate the genre and the 25th anniversary of Trouble is... when it comes to your town.

Samantha Fish was well-received in Nashville.

Samantha Fish Setlist: Bulletproof (Tangle Eye Mix) | Better Be Lonely | Twisted Ambition | Hello Stranger | No Angels | Dream Girl | Black Wind Howlin'

KWSB Setlist: Trouble Is... | Somehow, Somewhere, Someway | Everything Is Broken | Chase the Rainbow | I Found Love (When I Found You) | Nothing to Do With Love | King's Highway | True Lies | (Long) Gone | I Don't Live Today | Blue on Black | Slow Ride | Encore | Woman Like You | I Want You | Diamonds & Gold (with Joe Bonamassa) | Talk to Me Baby (with Joe Bonamassa) | Heat of the Sun | You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now

Samantha Fish and her flashy band made some new fans in Music City.

Related Links: For more information on KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Kenny Wayne Shepherd | Kenny Wayne Shepherd Premiers a New Documentary at Belcourt Theatre in Nashville | Samantha Fish | Ryman Auditorium


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