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Kenny Wayne Shepherd opens Rockin’ on the River concert series

The Rockin’ on the River summer concert series, held in North Tonawanda’s Gratwick Riverside Park, kicks off Friday with the return of a favorite of the series, blues-rock guitarist, band leader and songwriter Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

Shepherd has played the area many times over the years, taking part in this run of outdoor shows since it was known as the Canal Concert Series held along the waterfront in downtown Tonawanda, and traveling with the series when it moved to Lockport. Shepherd also took part in the Experience Hendrix tribute concert at the University at Buffalo’s Center for the Arts in 2014.

Anyone present at these shows does not need to be told that Shepherd is one of the most fiery and eloquent of the post-Hendrix blues-rock performers going. He and his long-serving bandmates – singer Noah Hunt, former Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble drummer Chris Layton and bassist Scott Nelson – have proven to be a rock-solid proposition every time they’ve passed through the area.

Admission to the Rockin’ on the River shows is free. VIP tickets are $15 through rockinontheriver.com and ticketfly.com.

The concert starts at 5 p.m. with opening sets from Bruce Wojick & the Struggle, and Famous Fred & the Creatures Unknown. The series continues with Rik Emmett on July 1 and Three Dog Night on July 8.

– Jeff Miers