On May 31st, Concord Records will release The Traveler, an album of experience and profound resonance by the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. Recorded in Los Angeles, while the band was on a break from their uncompromising tour schedule that left them road-tested and ready to rock, The Traveler showcases some world-class musicians: vocalist Noah Hunt, drummer Chris “Whipper” Layton (formerly of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Double Trouble), bassist Kevin McCormick, and keyboardists Jimmy McGorman and Joe Krown. The album features ten songs including eight new originals co-written by KWS and some of Nashville’s most in-demand songwriters, plus incendiary covers of Buffalo Springfield’s “Mr. Soul” and Joe Walsh’s “Turn to Stone.”
“Because of my family, my friends, and my fans I’ve been able to explore the depths of music and chase songs wherever they may lead me,” says Shepherd. “We’ve been able to do things and go places that were once just a dream, and it’s all because of the music and the people who support it. The Traveler is a return on their investment.”
Co-produced by Shepherd and Marshall Altman, The Traveler features some of the most distinctive music of Kenny Wayne’s storied career. New originals “Woman Like You,” “Long Time Running,” “I Want You,” “Gravity” and “Tailwind” (whose heartfelt lyrical metaphor provides the album’s title image) offer a scintillating balance of finesse and firepower, while the artist pays tribute to his influences with the album’s two covers. The seed for Shepherd’s menacing take on “Mr. Soul” was planted when he performed the song at a benefit show with Springfield founders Stephen Stills and Neil Young, and his epic reading of Joe Walsh’s “Turn to Stone” was first performed by Shepherd at a fundraising concert honoring Walsh.
Now a quarter century into a career that started when he was 16, Shepherd is staying busier than ever with the release of The Traveler. A spring tour with the Beth Hart Band launched on April 4th, which will be followed by a run of dates with Buddy Guy in June.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd has sold millions of albums worldwide and, in addition to his five Grammy nominations, has won two Billboard Music Awards, a pair of Orville H. Gibson awards, the Blues Foundation’s Keeping The Blues Alive award and two Blues Music awards. He’s had six #1 blues albums and a string of #1 mainstream rock singles. His last album, 2017’s Lay It On Down, debuted at #1 on three different Billboard charts: Blues, Current Rock Albums, and Internet Albums. American Songwriter noted “There’s sufficient nitro-burning, blues-drenched shredding to keep live audiences playing their air guitars. But Shepherd’s obvious attention to and insistence on exceptional material with musical inventiveness continues to impress, and 22 years into his career raises him and Lay It On Down above his plentiful competition.”
*Feature image Mark Seliger