“I was flying across the country, from the east coast to the west coast, as it was happening. So, I actually did not know what was going on until we landed,” says musician Kenny Wayne Shepherd recalling the day a massive EF5 tornado devastated Moore, Oklahoma.
Shepherd spoke via his cell phone while en route to several media outlets to promote tonight’s ”We Can Help Moore” all-star benefit concert for victims of Oklahoma’s recent storms.
“I landed in Los Angeles at LAX. I got in the car and turned on the news,” Shepherd says. “And it was all over the news. It was just… unbelievable!”
Like so many around the country, what he witnessed and heard on TV moved the multi-platinum blues/rock recording artist.
“The thing that I think caught most everybody’s attention, initially, were the stories about the schools that had been hit,” Shepherd says. “The fact that it was the middle of the day and the children were in school… I’m a father, and I have four kids. I can’t even imagine a parent having to worry about that, or my kids experiencing something like that.”
The Shreveport, Louisiana native is no stranger to Mother Nature’s unpredictable wrath and recalled his own frightening childhood experiences with tornadoes. Once he realized he was scheduled to play a June 7th date just minutes away from the destruction he witnessed on the news, he felt compelled to act. So he decided to turn his previously-scheduled concert into a fundraising effort for victims and those who work to provide aid and support to victims.
“We’re a united country and we share each other’s triumphs and tragedies,” Shepherd says. “I just couldn’t come here in my right mind and not take the opportunity to do something. So I reached out to my band and they all jumped on board. Then we started calling out to some of our friends.”
“Our friends Trampled Under Foot are going to join us, as well,” Shepherd adds.
The resulting event is tonight’s “We Can Help Moore” showcase at Oklahoma City’s historic Diamond Ballroom. All proceeds from ticket sales and silent auction items will go to Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma for storm-related relief efforts.
Shepherd even got his home town’s chapter of Goodwill Industries to sweeten the deal by loading up several trucks with clothing and basic supplies delivered today to Oklahoma.
Each of these gestures – those put forth by Shepherd’s band mates and fellow stars, and the many others tied to these coordinated efforts – no doubt adds to ongoing relief and recovery efforts. But, perhaps the most immediate and direct benefit from tonight’s “We Can Help Moore” showcase will be felt by the many victims. Through “pay-it-forward” ticketing and direct invitation, they will witness tonight’s showcase for free.
“Hopefully through the power of music we can help people forget about it for a little while, and at the same time raise some money to give back to the local community,” Shepherd says.
Shepherd humbly suggests that playing music for a living is a blessing, especially for an occasion such as this.
“I get to do what I love to do,” Shepherd says, “Any chance we can use music for a greater good and help some people out… I always want to take that opportunity!”