• 149 WESTCHESTER AVENUE, PORT CHESTER, NY 10573-4549 · (914) 937-4126

  • July 25th, 2018

    reCAP :: Kenny Wayne Shepherd + The Beth Hart Band :: 2018.07.21

    Words by: Jordan Becker
    Photos by: Gary Flink

    Friday night at The Cap featured a reggae legend performing in front of a crowd of standing admirers, Saturday night was a different vibe altogether. Two veteran blues rock outfits played to a seated, but no less enthusiastic, crowd. The Beth Hart Band and the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band co-headlined the festivities, making for a fascinating, loud, long night of rock, blues, and even a touch of jazz. The audience was left exhilarated, exultant, and a bit exhausted. In a good way.

    We began with a set from Beth Hart, the 46 year old blues belter and former Star Search champ, who has been on the road since the early 90s. Hart began the show solo, accompanying herself admirably on the piano, before bringing out the band, stepping away from the piano, and kicking things into high gear with a raucous cover of “Can’t Let Go,” probably best known from Lucinda Williams’ version. Hart seemed genuinely delighted to be performing for us, even at one point spinning around gleefully on her piano stool between songs and tapping her feet wildly.

    Stylistically, most of the songs were rooted in the blues, and Hart’s voice couldn’t help but remind you of Janis Joplin (who Hart portrayed Off Broadway a few years back). The power of her voice and her range were remarkable, in the blues songs as well as ones that edged close to hard rock and metal, and even in a jazzy tune appropriately entitled “Jazz Man.” Hart also picked up a guitar later in the set for some ballads, but she ceded lead guitar work through the night to the talented Jon Nichols.

    Hart openly discussed her bipolar disorder and history of addiction, which are influences on many of the original songs that she played. She has created the persona of a hard living woman who has been wronged and has made bad life choices. Not only did this come through in her songs, but also in the stories that she told between numbers. The audience was moved when Hart began performing a powerful ballad “Sister Heroine,” a tribute to her late sister who battled addiction and AIDS before dying in her 30s.

    Late in the set, Hart made it clear that she is now in a better, happier place, as she sang about her contentment living with her husband in the “Ugliest House on the Block.” Hart closed the show with a tribute to her husband (and road manager), who she credits with pulling her out of her addiction and helping her deal with her mental health issues, “My California.”

    After resetting the stage, The Kenny Wayne Shepherd band burst on to the stage, blasting their bluesy rock, which featured Shepherd wailing away on the guitar and vocalist Noah Hunt. Shepherd, who began playing guitar as a child after hearing and meeting Stevie Ray Vaughan, is clearly influenced by Vaughan, but is far from a slavish imitator. A few songs into the set, Shepherd stepped up to the mike to sing, and played a stinging lead guitar, on Vaughan’s “The House is Rockin’” while Double Trouble’s former drummer, Chris “Whipper” Layton kept the beat.

    As Hunt noted late in the set, while not everything they played was “the blues,” it was the foundation for all of their music, and they played some ballads, including “Hard Lesson Learned,” and some more straightforward rockers. But it is in the bluesy songs where they really shined. Pretty much every song featured a mind-blowing, jaw dropping guitar solo from Shepherd, so it is hard to pick out a favorite, but whatever he did during “Down For Love” was particularly remarkable. However, Shepherd is more than just a shredder (although shred, he did), showing restraint and subtlety in his long solo during “Heat Of The Sun.”

    Late in the set, they slowed things down for a long cover of B.B. King’s “You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now,” which gave New Orleans keyboard stalwart Joe Krown the chance to take an extended solo on the piano and organ before Shepherd added a tasty solo of his own.
    Ending the evening, the band performed a scorching cover of “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return),” thus connecting the dots directly from Shepherd, to Vaughan (whose version of the song is legendary), to its writer, Jimi Hendrix, but bringing their own twists to the classic.

    Before tonight, I was only slightly familiar with both Hart and Shepherd. But that is certainly going to change.