Nearly three years ago, Kenny Wayne Shepherd departed on a 10-day tour to collaborate with some of the most notable blues veterans available.
Nearly three years ago, Kenny Wayne Shepherd departed on a 10-day tour to collaborate with some of the most notable blues veterans available. On Jan. 16, he will release the fruits of that effort, "Ten Days Out (Blues From the Backroads) on DVD and CD via Warner Bros./Reprise.
Shepherd was able to hook up with greats like B.B. King, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and 91-year-old Honeyboy Edwards during his trek, culminating with a historical gathering of the remaining members of Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters' bands in Salina, Kan. He also joined artists like Etta Baker, Henry Townsend, Wild Child Butler, Cootie Stark and Neal Pattman, the latter of whom, along with Brown, has passed away since contributing to the project.
"So many amazing artists are still left out there, but go unnoticed. And they're dying every single day. This is our way of recognizing that nobody lives forever even though their impact on music is still so present," Shepherd tells Billboard.com.
He and his team -- which consisted of longtime collaborator Noah Hunt, producer Jerry Harrison and a film crew - would travel throughout the South and Midwest, setting up impromptu studios in kitchens, churches and music halls. The result is tracks like Stark and Pattman's "Prison Blues," Buddy Flett's "Honky Tonk," King's "The Thrill Is Gone" and Bryan Lee's "Tina Marie," with Shepherd playing in the background on each.
"When we started looking for potential candidates to join up with, we wanted to make sure we found some great, lesser-known artists, even the ones that die-hard blues fans wouldn't necessarily know about," Shepherd says.
A portion of the proceeds from the album's sales will be donated to Music Maker Relief Foundation.
Shepherd is not only in the midst of planning a tour around the release -- and tapping some of the same musicians to join him -- but may consider making another similar trip for a second volume. He is currently writing for his next studio album, the follow-up to 2004's "The Place You're In."