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Monday, March 9, 2020

Walk of Stars

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Kenny Wayne Shepherd to shine at Northwest Louisiana

Kenny Wayne Shepherd is adding another feather to his hat on Sunday, March 22, when he’s inducted into the Northwest Louisiana Walk of Stars.

The blues/rock award-winning entertainer returns to his roots for a north Louisianastyle tribute to his career as a guitarist. The ceremony will take place in the Red River Entertainment District under the Texas Street Bridge beginning at 2 p.m. Shepherd will be the 32nd inductee to receive a star since the Walk started in 1997.

Walk of Stars President John Lieberman said the choice was opportune. “Kenny Wayne is hot right now,” he said. “His latest album, ‘Traveler,’ came out last year, and he’s been all over the world touring and promoting the album. We thought now is a good time.”

The Walk of Stars recognizes individuals and groups in northwest Louisiana who have distinguished themselves in their fields and have brought recognition to the area. Former Chamber of Commerce chairman Arlena Acree is the person responsible for the Walk, according to Lieberman. In October 2016, the Walk became an independent non-profit entity.

The honorees come from any profession or industry. While the majority of the honorees appear to have been in the music category, there are others such as athletes Terry Bradshaw and Joe Ferguson, broadcaster Tim Brando, filmmakers Jim McCullough Sr. and Jr., and fitness expert Skye Ryland Miller.

Shepherd was born and raised in Shreveport and picked up his first guitar around age 3 when his mother presented him with a plastic guitar redeemed with S&H Green Stamps. When he was 7, he met Stevie Ray Vaughn and admitted to being mesmerized by the guitar legend. That was the catalyst that placed a guitar in his hands and paved the way for his music career. When his performance at the Red River Revel was videotaped, it caught the eye of Giant Records representative Irving Azoff, who signed the young man to a multi-album record contract.

The Caddo Magnet High School graduate has been nominated for five Grammy Awards, received two Billboard Music Awards, two Blues Music Awards and two Orville H. Gibson Awards. In 2007 he released a critically acclaimed and Grammynominated DVD-CD project called “10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads.” Shepherd, with his Double Trouble Band, traveled the backroads of the country, interviewing and playing with some of the biggest names in the blues business.

In 2008, Fender Musical Instruments released the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Signature Series Stratocaster guitar. A quick check of eBay showed prices ranging from $2,000 to $4,000 for the model.

In 2010, “Live in Chicago” was nominated for a Grammy Award and featured performances with Hubert Sumlin, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Buddy Flett and Bryan Lee.

In January 2017, Shepherd recorded the album “Lay It on Down,” which was the eighth record by the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Blues Chart.

Last year, he made his debut at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival on July 16, just days after the release of the album “The Traveler,” which was subsequently chosen as a Favorite Blues Album by AllMusic.

In addition to seeing his shiny new star planted alongside the other local luminaries underneath the Texas Street Bridge, Shepherd has headlined the 2020 Mahindra Blues Festival along with Buddy Guy, Larkin Poe and Keb Mo.

Shepherd joins some impressive honorees on the Walk. Included are Faron Young, the Centenary College Choir, Jim Reeves, Elvis Presley, Trace Atkins, Huddie Ledbetter and former Gov. Jimmie Davis. In the non-music category, other honorees include long-time Grambling Football Coach Eddie Robinson, journalist Tom Jarrell, author and illustrator William Joyce, and attorney Johnny Cochran, among others.

If you’d like to be a part of the festivities, the ceremony takes place in the Red River District at 450 Commerce St., March 22, beginning at 2 p.m. in Shreveport. Lieberman said there would be a short presentation and a reading of the mayoral proclamation of Kenny Wayne Shepherd Day. Then the artist will create the concrete impressions of his hand- and footprints to be added to the Walk alongside the other luminaries.

Then it’s off to wash his hands before tuning up for his next hit album.


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