Interview with Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Posted by The Fretwire on

I had a chance to speak to Kenny Wayne Shepherd a few months ago at the NAMM 2012 Show in Anaheim, California.  Here is what he had to say: TFW:  As you were learning to play guitar, what's been the most important aspect in your practice? KWS:  The best practice I get is on stage. I try to play guitar every day whenever possible.  Of course, when I am at home and not on the road I have 3 kids, a wife and all that stuff so there are a lot of other responsibilities, but I try to play guitar as much as possible. The best practice I get is on stage, because no matter how much I play around the house, when I get on stage I play with a different level of intensity.  I can play every day for the next 10 days at home, and then I get on stage for the first time in a month, and my fingers will be sore because I am playing with a different level of intensity. As far as songwriting and being creative goes, it's great to have the right tools and surround yourself with new products that inspire different things in you.   Effect pedals are major, because when you get a new effect, it inspires you to play things in a different way and move things in a different direction. That can spark the idea for a whole new song. TFW:  Any advice for new players just starting out?  What's the best thing to focus on? KWS:  Find some good influences.  Listen to the guys that really inspire you and get your blood pumping. Pick what you like from what they play and try to incorporate it into what you do--but don't copy it.  Learn it exactly at first but then figure out a way to put your own stamp on it.  That's how you can evolve into having your own style. If you really want to get your chops up, you gotta play with other people.  Human beings are unpredictable.  So when you play with a group of other musicians you are going to have different challenges that you wouldn't have if you are sitting at home playing with records or with a drum machine.  Go find a blues jam or open mic night, get out and play with people, interact with other musicians because that is really going to take you to the next level. TFW:  If you could jam with anyone, living or dead, who would it be? KWS:   I have had the pleasure of jamming with almost every hero of mine that's still alive. I think playing with Hendrix would have been absolutely unbelievable, but for me, playing with Stevie Ray Vaughan, I know its a predictable answer from a guy like me.  I got to meet him several times and the last time I met him he signed my very first Stratocaster for me.  He indicated that maybe one day we'd have the chance to play together, and that never happened.  I felt a loss there, so it would be cool if I could ever fulfill that desire. Kenny Wayne Shepherd is currently on tour with his band.  Check the schedule here.