It’s a busy night at the Cheese and Grain venue in Frome. The foyer is alive with chatter and the main hall is filled to burst with music fans from all walks of life.
DANIELLE NICOLE BAND
The room is darkened and the first band arrive on stage. All the way from Kansas City, Danielle Nicole rocks a pair of red kick flares, a bass guitar casually slung across her body in a left-handed fashion. This woman does not hold back on telling the world what she wants and needs, as the band unleash a truthful deliverance of Soulful Rootsy Blues. It is impossible not to reflect on the likes of Janis Joplin, although there is an aspect of this music that has its foot firmly planted in modern times. The next song has a moody instrumental intro, but Brandon Miller knows how to make that lead guitar speak for itself. Then it’s in with those beautiful strong vocals “I just can’t keep from crying sometimes…” Cameron Tyler drums an effective beat, a tambourine sat atop his high-hat cymbal for extra percussion. This band may be comprised of just three musicians but together they provide an incredible sound with perhaps some of the strongest and cleanest vocals that this venue has seen in a while.
During a longer check-in with the audience – whilst busily returning the bass – Danielle tells of how she is pleased to be touring with Kenny Wayne Shepherd whom she first met many years ago, in Memphis, with her brother’s band (Trampled Under Foot). She also mentions Brandon Miller’s solo album is available, along with her own 2019 release Cry No More and encourages the die-hard music fans in the audience to come and meet the band after the gig at the merch stand.
The set is peppered with copious guitar solos but the variety is such that it is far from boring to see and hear. With bass and vocals mirroring each other, this band really vibe off of one another. At times the guitar mews it’s story, chased by softer vocals which transform to a deep meaningful tone and then onwards into a throaty growl of “Well I know you wanna call me baby.” DN is a very expressive singer. CT strikes a fiercer beat to pick up the pace for the song Pusher Man whilst BM echoes the sound of DN’s vocals in a kind of relay. There are slower Bluesy numbers with every second of the music used to dramatic effect. The song ‘Wolf Den’ is sung with a huskily alluring voice, complete with panting and talk of scratching at a door, whilst BM utilizes a talk box to add extra shape to the notes that he is playing. It’s an exceptional song.
Find out more about the Danielle Nicole Band at https://daniellenicolemusic.com/
KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD
7 musicians file on stage. All out, no fuss plugged in and straight on with the show.
The first 4 songs of the set are from the new album The Traveler. Kicking off with ‘I want a woman like you’ Kenny Wayne Shepherd executes the first of many impressive guitar solos and adds backing vocals to the kazoo-like woo-oohs as the audience claps in time. He also reinforces the tail ends of the verses on their take of Buffalo Springfield’s ‘Mr. Soul.’ Noah Hunt of course, provides the extra edge to the songs with his outstanding lead vocals and proves himself to be something of a mean machine on the tambourine, in between fulfilling his many rhythm guitar duties and always with a stunning smile on his face. The harmonies between NH and KWS during ‘Long Time Running’ are just perfect. ‘I Want You’ sees keyboard player Joe Krown properly coming into his own, he is engrossed on his right-angled 2-board set up, as KWS manoeuvres his way through another astonishing guitar solo and there is perhaps, the first proper evidence of the brass section. It’s as though this band are constantly revealing more and more talents as the set rolls on. Which is perhaps best; It may be a bit overwhelming to witness all of its wonders at once.
KWS sings the vocals on ‘Diamonds and Gold’ from the Lay it on down album, with NH joining in with the chorus. Yes, KWS may look modest in his hat, blue shirt and waistcoat and jeans but do not be fooled, the sounds that he produces on his lead guitar defy belief and the playing techniques he employs to get those is, quite frankly, fascinating. He somehow becomes one with the instrument. His whole body in tune. When he thanks the crowd for coming out and filling the house, it’s clear from the amazing response of applause, cheers and whistles, that everyone is feeling very lucky to be here tonight. The audience may be fairly still but that’s because they are watching every moment on stage. There is no time or need to tear their eyes away from witnessing this incredible band of musicians.
For the band’s version of Elmore James’ ‘Talk to me baby,’ KWS adapts his voice to a Deep Southern Blues style. Drummer Chris Layton, in his loud shirt and bass guitarist Scott Nelson, keeps a steady time which is very much required for all of the sounds/parts going on. No instrument is in the background. Joe Seblett on sax holds his own with a long solo, followed by Mark Pender on trumpet taking his turn to answer back. ‘The Heat of the Sun’ from the 2011 album How I Go is a slow and very powerful number and that unmistakable voice of NH just envelopes the room and weaves in and out of the people. Diving and swooping, rising and falling. Picked up and taken over by KWS’ incredibly mournful solo. He has a way of tremoring those sorrowful notes out. It’s not a shake more of a gentle coax before flinging himself right into another eyes-closed, frenzy. You have to consider Kenny’s guitar solos as part of his vocals. He speaks more through this instrument than through his throat.
“Frome is a great little town, it’s our first time here. Our first stop in the UK, what a great way to start.” States NH, just before the encore. It has really been Frome’s pleasure.
Find out more at https://www.kennywayneshepherd.net/
Review // Suzi Boots
Photography // Emma Painter
Pacific Curd Photography // https://www.pacificcurdphotography.co.uk
Woman like you
Long Time Running
I want you
Diamonds and Gold
Talk to me baby
The heat of the Sun
Down for Love
Shame Shame Shame
Turn to Stone
Blue on Black
I’m A King Bee
Check Out Our Review Of The Traveller: https://rocknloadmag.com/news/kenny-wayne-shepherd-band-the-traveller-album-review/
Check Out Our Interview With Kenny Wayne Shepherd Here: https://rocknloadmag.com/news/bluesman-kenny-wayne-shepherd-talks-srv-evh-his-latest-offering-the-traveler-out-now-via-provogue-mascot-label-group/