Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Kenny Wayne Shepherd digging into his Fender Custom Shop Signature
model during “I Don’t Live Today.” The Strat features an alder body, a thick
maple neck with a rosewood fretboard, and custom-voiced single-coils.
Of all the players who took the stage in
Milwaukee, Kenny Wayne Shepherd was
the most like a man possessed of Hendrix’s
spirit. He wielded an array of Strats ranging
from Custom Shop models based on his ’61
to a replica of Hendrix’s Monterey guitar,
but it wasn’t his gear choices that were so
reminiscent of Jimi. It was the fact that he
gave the most provocative and aweinspiring
performance of the night.
During his four songs, he plugged his
Strats into a handwired Fender ’64
Vibroverb reissue and a Tycobrahe Octavia
and played with a passionate, fearless
stage presence that dripped with
Hendrixian charisma. Others played with
their teeth and behind their back—as did
Shepherd—but he raised the bar by playing
under his leg, squatting down with his
headstock pointed skyward (just like Jimi
in the liner notes of Axis: Bold As Love),
slid on his knees during solos, and covered
the gamut of Hendrix-inspired
without shame or inhibition—and without
coming across as cheesy or schmaltzy.
Tonally, Shepherd lit the place on fire during
“Voodoo Child (Slight Return).” The first five
seconds of the song had barely reverberated
through the soldout
Riverside Theatre before
the crowd was on its feet, pleading for him
to take it to another level. And he obliged.
He worked his Crybaby wah with precision to
ensure the proper wah-chuk-a-wah sounds.
The extended solo contained some of the
finest guitar playing of the night—it closely
resembled Hendrix’s recorded rendition but
also had Shepherd’s own bent. He ended the
tune on his knees, reenacting Hendrix’s 1967
Strat burning at the Monterey Pop Festival.
The way Shepherd owned the stage was an art
form in itself. For his set, KWS was Hendrix.
Shepherd plugged into the first input of his Fender ’64 Vibroverb
reissue’s Vibrato channel. The mic is a Sennheiser e609.
During “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” Shepherd played this Fender
Custom Shop Hendrix Monterey Pop Festival Strat, which has a maple neck,
rosewood fretboard, and three vintage single-coils. The alder body features a
recreation of Jimi’s original artwork that was hand-painted by Pamelina H.
To get Hendrix-style tones, Kenny Wayne Shepherd mixed up his pedalboard for this particular tour. He went with a Boss TU-2
Chromatic Tuner, an Analog Man AR20DL Analog Delay, Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2, an Analog Man BI-CHORUS, a handwired
Ibanez TS808HW Tube Screamer, an Analog Man King of Tone overdrive, a Tycobrahe Octavia, and a Dunlop Crybaby wah.