Article and Photos by: Michael W. Bright
Louisville, KY –The biggest question pertaining to Saturday night’s Buddy Guy and Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band performance was always going to be, “who’s on first?” Buddy Guy, at age 83, could still command a venue, fill plenty of seats, and hold us in the palm of his hand. His stage banter, the raunchy dialogue between himself and his guitar, and a setlist that focused on the more salacious end of the spectrum still make the ladies blush.
On the other hand, Kenny Wayne Shepherd has packed massive experience into his 42 years. He achieved a sort of boy-genius guitar slinger status, when, inspired after watching Stevie Ray Vaughn at age seven, he made his stage debut at twelve, never looking back. Ultimately no one seemed to care who opened, no one left early, and neither performer appeared to feel like second fiddle.
KWS Band features a seven man lineup with a top notch horn section for this tour which adds a little more wattage to covers like, “Mr. Soul,” Buffalo Springfield’s stripped down rocker. The set featured both blues classics like Elmore James’, “Talk to Me Baby,” and KWS original set staple, Heat of the Sun,” which nicely showcases singer Noah Hunt’s iconic voice. Then as if to add a final punctuation, they closed with a pyrotechnical encore, Hendrix’s, “Voodoo Chile.”
The audience was on their feet and raging, the acoustics were superb, fine-tuned, and rare for an amphitheater. Buddy Guy slowly strode onto the spacious stage by himself, smiling, to thunderous applause, and launched into a three song medley of classic blues. His own, “Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues,” into, “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man,” (Willie Dixon), and, “Cheaper to Keep Her,” another Willie Dixon gem.
He’s at his best when the song is salacious, he’s swiveling his hips suggestively, and he’s talking about things and using words that he said he couldn’t even approach on stage 50 years before. Guy continued in that vain well into his set with, “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” and Muddy Water’s, “She’s Nineteen Years Old.” The night’s entertainment finally finished, well-laid, with the fans satisfied.