It only took us a week to see it for ourselves, but it was a long wait after hearing so many people talk about the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Sioux City, Iowa. We went down to see the venue and to see the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band and both were well worth the hour trip down the interstate!

We spent about an hour checking out the casino and artist displays throughout the Hard Rock from classics like Elvis and James Brown to the classic rock era from Billy Idol to Joan Jett and appropriately, Sioux City native Tommy Bolin.

Then we grabbed a drink in Anthem, the Hard Rock's music venue. I love the set up. In talking to several employees, they can set Anthem up several different ways. They can accommodate about 650-700 if they make it a general admission show and take out all the chairs. They can have rows of seats on the floor like they did for our show and fit about 500. And for the Thursday Blues Series shows (and others) they will fill the floor with tables and chairs in a more relaxed concert setting and likely accommodate about 250-300.

Considering they've only been open a week, I was really impressed with the staff, the venue and the experience. They're working hard to make sure everyone walks away with a positive impression and I know we certainly did.

The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band is in the middle of a long summer tour and it's the second time they've played the area over the past three months and though the set lists were similar, the experience Friday night at the Hard Rock was much better than the last show I saw. Again, last night's virtually sold out show had roughly 500 people as opposed to double that the last time I saw them at a different venue late spring, but the Hard Rock crowd was much louder in showing their appreciation for the great show we were seeing. Several times, we were on our feet giving much-deserved standing ovations. The band certainly fed off of the love and pushed themselves even higher.

The show includes several songs from their new album "Goin' Home" which has the band covering songs from artists that inspired them like Stevie Ray Vaughan, B.B. King, Freddie King, and Bo Diddley. It gave Shepherd a chance to tell a story about Diddley that I'd never heard him tell before. Kenny was 15 when he and his band got the opportunity to open on a tour that had Bo Diddley following them and B.B. King headlining. Back in the day, Diddley would normally hire a local band to back him, but since Shepherd and his band were right there and Diddley liked what he heard, he hired Shepherd's band to back him each night on the tour. So Shepherd would do his opening set with his band, then Bo Diddley would come on and Kenny would play rhythm guitar with the legend and as he put it. "I went to school every night". Not only playing with Diddley but having time to pick his brain each night in the green room while B.B. King headlined. Now 22-23 year later, Shepherd is able to pay tribute to one of his mentors and heroes.

They saved "Blue on Black" for the encore which of course had everyone on their feet, then slid into "I'm A King Bee" before closing with the 'guitarists National Anthem': "Voodoo Chile", which has Shepherd playing behind his head and leaving the crowd yelling for more.

The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is quickly going to turn into a destination for people from Sioux Falls, Omaha and around the region with all the music and comedy shows they have booked. From Kansas playing next Saturday (August 16) in what will be their final show with lead singer Steve Walsh; to Wednesday night comedy shows including several Bob & Tom Show regulars like Bob Zany and Mike Armstrong; to the Thursday Night Blues Series shows that you could see for as little as $5 each thanks to our partnership with the Hard Rock like: Devon Allman, Trampled Under Foot, Rick Estrin & The Night Cats, Indigenous, Coco Montoya, Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials and MORE.

Thank you to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino for your hospitality! We'll see you again soon.