Most child prodigies end up facing some sort of backlash once the "child" portion of the description is no longer applicable. A few artists -- most notably, the sublime guitarist Derek Trucks, who was already considered a musical genius by the time he was in high school -- manage to buck the trend and move gracefully into adulthood. Add to that short but significant list fellow blues/rock virtuoso Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
Shepherd was already considered a big deal by the time he was 15. Now in his 30s, the guitarist/songwriter is widely regarded by fans and peers alike as a journeyman, a musician who has paid his dues and, in the process, helped to push the blues forward. Of course, the blues aren't all Shepherd does, but the form does indeed inform the sultry hybrid of rock, soul, funk and R&B that has endeared Shepherd to a worldwide fan base.
Shepherd returns to play for his loyal and sizable Western New York audience when he headlines the Labatt Canal Concert Series in Lockport's Ulrich City Centre, beginning at 6 tonight. A trio of killer blues- and R&B-based Buffalo bands will open the show, beginning with Caitlin & the Jamie Moses Band, followed by the immaculate Dive House Union and, finally, the revered Wanted by the FBI. Admission is free; VIP tickets, priced $22, are available through www.canalconcerts.com.
-- Jeff Miers