Kenny Wayne Shepherd in Blade Studios.
Guitar master Kenny Wayne Shepherd made his aptly named new release in his hometown of Shreveport, La., bringing his band—singer Noah Hunt, drummer Chris Layton, bassist Tony Franklin and keyboard player Riley Osbourn—into Blade Studios, where he co-produced with Bill Pfordresher and drummer/studio owner Brady Blade. The new album features classic blues songs made famous by greats Albert King, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan and others.
Staff engineer Chris Bell captured the band live in Blade’s SSL Duality-equipped 1,350-square-foot Studio A. “They came in with just a great attitude and the intention of making a great record the way we used to make great records: with everyone in the same room together,” says Bell, who tracked the band to Pro Tools via a Studer A27 machine and the studio’s CLASP system.
Of the main attraction on any Kenny Wayne Shepherd album, Bell says, “Kenny probably had 20 guitars here. He also had several Dumble Fender modified amps. He would have at least two amps going at the same time; sometimes they’d run together, and sometimes he’d use them to switch off—rhythm or lead, depending on the song.”
Bell miked each amp with a Royer R-121 and a Shure SM57. “And if it was an open-back cabinet, I might have a [Sennheiser] 421 on the rear. Sometimes the amps were out in the studio, but if they were in a booth, there would also be room mics—Royer 122s. We’d always run a DI, too, in case we wanted to re-amp anything.”
The electrifying live band tracks were embellished with a few overdubbed vocals and solos, and then with contributions from guest stars, including Joe Walsh, Keb Mo, Robert Randolph, Ringo Starr and more. “Those were sent to us,” Bell says. “We’d just edit in an extra 16 bars for a solo, or lengthen a track to fit in a vocal section.”