Rock legend Stephen Stills sings the blues with Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Barry Goldberg.
To hear it from the horse’s mouth, Stephen Stills — the legendary Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Famer known for his time with Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and his longtime solo career — has forever been blue.
“I started off singing the blues. I’ve always been a blues singer,” says Stills, who kicked off his career with the folkbluesy Au Go-Go Singers after leaving Dallas for New York City.
Now, more than 50 years later, Stills has returned to the hard blues fold with The Rides, his new-ish band with blues guitar hotshot Kenny Wayne Shepherd and rock-blues warhorse organist and composer Barry Goldberg. Following 2013’s successful “Can’t Get Enough,” the trio has reunited for a record, “Pierced Arrow,” and a tour.
“We’re bound to our schedules when we’re all off at the same time,” says Shepherd of finding time between solo careers to make another Rides album. “We’d have to write over the course of a year rather than one shot because one of us would go off and do solo shows. We’re committed to this band, but there are always moving parts.”
On stage since age 13, with eight raw and rusted solo albums under his belt, the now-37-year-old Shepherd met Stills at a most unlikely place: the Super Bowl.
“Stephen and I were mutual friends with the owners of the Indianapolis Colts and both got invited to their box the year that the Colts beat the Chicago Bears,” he says. “Not only was it the first time that we met, it was the first time that we played together. There wound up being this jam with me, Stephen, John Mellencamp and Mike Mills from R.E.M.”
Several Colts games later, Stills decided that he wanted to put a blues band together with Goldberg, whom he had worked with on the classic Mike Bloomfield 1968 “Super Session” album. Stills says “purity” best describes Goldberg’s performance as part of the Rides, while Shepherd is labeled as “fresh.”
Shepherd explains: “[The sessions were] originally just going to be an experimental blues jam — somebody press the ‘record’ button and see what