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August Issue
more... ArtistsGuitaristsBluesS-StyleRockKenny Wayne ShepherdStephen Stills

Easy Riding with Stephen Stills and Kenny Wayne Shepherd

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The Rides 3_FEAT


Stephen Stills and Kenny Wayne Shepherd both attest to an effortless instinctual chemistry
that happens when they play guitar together.

“It was instinct,” agrees Stills. “We treated it like you’re supposed to: with a lot of mutual respect. I learned a lot from Kenny that week, and my sound has changed a little bit. Kenny Wayne Shepherd is the nicest, most gracious and considerate musician I’ve ever met. He’s the antithesis of the sociopaths we usually run into.”

Meanwhile, Shepherd says he treasured the opportunity to study a masterful songwriter/guitarist at work: “I’ve always been very conscious of how vocals and guitar play off one another. Stephen puts a tremendous amount of emphasis on the vocal—sometimes it takes priority over the guitar. That approach has given me perspective on my rhythm playing. For instance, on ‘Only Tear Drops Fall,’ what I initially played didn’t really sound right to his ear, which made me rethink my approach.”

“My approach to the guitar is to pick it up and play where it fits and little else,” says Stills. “Leave some space for the vocal.”

“Stephen puts a tremendous amount of emphasis on the vocal—sometimes it takes priority over the guitar. That approach has given me perspective on my rhythm playing.” –Kenny Wayne Shepherd

“Stephen is a great player,” Shepherd continues. “He’s been rated one of the top 100 players of all time many times, and I can’t argue with that. We have completely different styles, but when they come together it’s very intriguing.”

Kenny Wayne Shepherd's Gear

Guitars
-Kenny Wayne Shepherd Signature Series Fender Stratocaster
-1958 Fender Stratocaster
-1959 Fender Stratocaster
-1961 Fender Stratocaster
-Gibson Les Paul Custom

Amps
-1958 Fender Bassman
-1964 Fender Blackface Vibroverb
-Dumble ’65 Fender Bandmaster Head converted to an Ultra Phonix
-Dumble-customized Fender Deluxe (“Tweedle-Dee”)
-Dumble-customized Fender Bassman (“Slidewinder”)
-Dumble-customized 1964 blackface Fender Vibroverb

Effects
-Analog Man King of Tone
-Ibanez TS808HW
-Vintage Ibanez TS808
-Jam TubeDreamer
-Jam Delay Llama
-1960s Vintage Fuzz Face
-Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face

Stephen Stills' Gear

Guitars
-Two 1954 Fender Stratocasters
-Pre-War Martin acoustics
-1958 Gretsch White Falcon
-1959 Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gentlemen
-1958 Gibson Flying V

Amps
-Fender Tweed Bassman
-Fender Tweed Twin Reverb
-Fender Tweed Deluxe
-Marshall 100-watt head

Like the original Super Session, Can’t Get Enough boasts an interesting selection of cover tunes. The new disc includes fresh takes on Muddy Waters’ “Honey Bee” and Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” “I love ‘Rockin’ in the Free World,’” says Stills. “Every time we would play it I’d think of the little nuances that I would add to it. When we finally got to it, I just slammed the shit out of it.”

Another interesting choice was a new take on “Word Game,” which Stills wrote during his Buffalo Springfield days and included on 1971’s Stephen Stills 2. “It was a bit of a throwaway when I did it back in the ’70s,” he says. “But we got it down really cool this time, and it’s just as timely today as it was then.”

One track likely to raise eyebrows is the group’s take on the Stooges’ proto-punk anthem “Search and Destroy.” “That was not a very predictable song for us to do,” laughs Shepherd. “At first [producer] Jerry [Harrison] and Stephen were a little suspicious. But the great thing about this project is there are no egos. We all value and respect each other’s opinions, so when I said ‘let’s give it a try,’ we laid the song down. Everyone was happy with the end result, and we’re all excited that it made the record. I think it piques people’s curiosity.”

Harrison and the band kept things moving quickly, finishing the album in just seven days. “We worked the way they describe the Beatles working when they first started,” says Stills. “It was very organic and natural, which is the way it’s supposed to be done. No machines. No polling numbers. No demographics.”

The recording approach was fittingly old school. “We recorded on two-inch tape and a Neve console,” says Shepherd. “The whole concept was to do it the way albums used to be done, and was an essential element to that sound, though it really puts pressure on the musicians to get it right the first time.”

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