NEW KID IN TOWN: Kenny Wayne Shepherd has been selling out shows across the country since the release of his debut album Ledbetter Heights last summer. In addition to heaps of critical acclaim, the album is now No. 1 on Billboard Magazine's Blues Chart. Joining the ranks of Hendrix, Clapton and Vaughan, Shepherd has signed an official endorsement deal with Fender Guitars to handcraft a new electric guitar to his exact personal specifications. Shepherd now plays a vintage reissue 1961 Fender Stratocaster.
Shepherd is 18 years old.
Growing up in Shreveport, Louisiana, Shepherd was only seven when he sat on an amp case at the side of the stage and watched Stevie Ray Vaughan play. Shepherd was hooked. He bugged his dad for a guitar and finally got one six months later. While the rest of his friends listened to pop, Shepherd listened to Muddy Waters, Albert Collins, Howlin' Wolf, B.B. King, Robert Johnson and Vaughan.
Shepherd's fingers can move like lightning or lay back with equal intensity, launching a rich vein of tradition well into the future. In the world of hype there is an unfortunate inclination to invoke the title of prodigy so frequently as to render the word meaningless. Rest assured, Shepherd is the genuine article.
The Bottle Rockets open the show kickin' out roots rock with a shot of country. Their album The Brooklyn Side made a lot of critics' cuts among the top 10 albums released last year (the title is based on a bowling move--the band is from Festus, Missouri), earning kudos from Option, CD Review and Billboard. Unfortunately, they received some unwanted attention from Rush Limbaugh, who's using the guitar riff from "Radar Gun" as bumper music on his show. Kind of funny considering their thorough roasting of his voluminous hide on their song "Welfare Music": Angry, fat man on the radio/Wants to keep his taxes way down low/says there ought to be a law/ angriest man we ever saw...It's Welfare Music.
(I'm sure I'm not the only one who wonders why Chrissie Hynde hasn't bashed that gasbag after all these years.)
The show takes place at The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave. Tickets are $10 in advance, available at Dillard's, Zia Records and The Rock. The price goes up to $12 day of show. Call 629-9211 for more information.
The Tailgators, America's premier house-rockin' band, will shake you up at the Rialto Theater, 318 E. Congress St., on Friday, April 12. Their new album, It's A Hog Groove!, illustrates why they've been a hot commodity on the Austin music scene for so long: Rockabilly, Zydeco, blues and surf make your feet move and your butt shake.
California surf band The Torpedoes open. Tickets are $5, available at the Rialto.
LAST NOTES: Joel Nava and his band The Border blend country with Tejano at the Wildcat House, 1801 N. Stone Ave., at 9 p.m. Saturday, April 13. The video for his country ballad "I Do" is currently receiving national and international airplay on CMT and CMT Latin America. Whether singing in Spanish or English, Nava's rich voice goes to the heart. Call 622-1302 for tickets and information.
Arm & Hammer, a.k.a. Stefan George and Anna Duff, play the Southwest Center for Music, 2175 N. Sixth Ave., on Tuesday, April 16. Greg Sarena opens the show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5, $2 for children, available at the Center. Call 884-1220 for information.
The Derailers bring their signature brand of high energy honky-tonk to the Rialto at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 17. Pop hooks, rockabilly and Western swing play off their Bakersfield influence on their latest release, Jackpot, produced by former Blaster Dave Alvin. Tickets are $5, available at the Rialto.
And save your pennies for next week's lineup, including three of the finest fiddle players in Celtic Music: Natalie MacMaster, Brian McNeill and Martin Hayes will appear in concert at the Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway, at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 18. They will be accompanied by back-up guitarists Tony McManus and Dennis Cahill.
All seats are reserved. Tickets are $12 and $14, with a $2 discount for TFTM members, and are available at Hear's Music, Piney Hollow, Loco Records and the Harp & Shamrock. Order by phone for a $1 surcharge by calling 881-3947 or 327-4809. Call 327-4809 for information only.
Also upcoming, Australian folksinger Judy Small returns to the Southwest Center for Music at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 18. The Sydney Morning Herald calls Small "simply the finest folksinger in the country." Tickets are $10 in advance, available at Antigone Books and Bentley's. Call 690-6356 for more information.
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