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 moves 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.