Blues rock great and five-time GRAMMY® nominee Kenny Wayne Shepherd has put together a stellar talent line up for the inaugural run of his Backroads Blues Festival Tour for which he serves as both curator and featured performer. He’ll be joined next month for the tour’s six dates by blues legend Buddy Guy and young blues sensation, and recent Grammy® winner Christone “Kingfish” Ingram. The tour, envisioned as a yearly sojourn, is slated to stop in Providence RI, Bethel NY, Lewiston NY, Springfield MA, Roanoke VA and Portsmouth VA on August 13, 14, 16, 18, 20 and 21, respectively.
Shepherd discussed his vision for the Backroads Blues Festival. “These days nobody mounts a traditional touring blues festival. I conceptualized one that will give people a chance to see the best of the best all in one place. We are extremely excited that Buddy Guy will be with us for each show. He is, after all, the living king of the blues these days. Also worthy of great respect is Christone “Kingfish” Ingram who is revitalizing the blues in a potent and powerful way.”
He continued, “We’re featuring three successive generations of blues artists, underscoring the resonance of the genre.” He explained that the overall concept for Backroads Blues Festival is an extension of his award winning earlier 10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads film and album project that saw him bring his band and a portable studio on the road to join forces with both notable and unheralded blues artists documenting those collaborations along the way including Etta Baker, Pinetop Perkins, Honeyboy Edwards, Lazy Lester, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Hubert Sumlin and B.B. King, among others. That project was also certified as a Platinum seller by the RIAA. He has plans to produce a sequel to the 10 Days Out documentary in the future.
“In the past, I really looked forward to those blues packages both as a fan and as an artist, so I decided to bring the concept back with the Backroads Blues Festival tour.” He recalled his transitioning from ticket holder to the B.B. King Blues Festival, where B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Etta James, Joe Cocker and the Neville Brothers performed, to starring as featured performer on several editions of the festival. “Those were very special shows and once that ended there was a void. Our Backwoods Blues Festival Tour is firmly rooted in that same tradition.”
Buddy Guy added, “I’m excited to be part of the first annual Backroads Blues Festival and back out with Kenny Wayne and looking forward to jamming with Kenny and Kingfish.” The Blues Is Alive and Well, Buddy Guy’s most recent album release, won a GRAMMY, his eighth, for Best Traditional Blues Album and includes guests Keith Richards, Jeff Beck and Mick Jagger. Currently offered as part of PBS American Masters is Buddy Guy: The Blues Chase the Blues, a feature documentary about the life of the Kennedy Center honoree and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee that includes footage of Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins, John Mayer, Carlos Santana, Gary Clark, Jr., the Rolling Stones and President Obama as well as Backwoods Blues Festival’s very own Christone “Kingfish” Ingram.
Shepherd noted that while this year’s festival line-up consists of electric bands, “It’s possible we could do an all-acoustic show; we want to be as inclusive as possible. Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, who was profiled earlier this month in a Washington Post feature, remarked, “To be back touring again is really great and the opportunity to join Mr. Guy and Mr. Shepherd on stage will be electric. These tour dates will be lots of fun.” Ingram is just back from extended European performance tour that included dates with the Rolling Stones as well as a rooftop performance atop London’s Hard Rock Hotel honoring the memory of Jimi Hendrix.