Only '10 Days Out' cracks to the top 200

The day after the Blues Music Foundation disbursed $191,650 in grants to non-profit orgs and museums, Nielsen SoundScan provided a reminder of how tough it is to sell a blues record in this day and age.

The only album in the top 200 that might be found in the blues section of a store was Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s “10 Days Out.” The blues-rock guitarist’s fifth album sold 5,000 copies in its first week and opened at No. 162; all of his other albums have landed at 108 and lower. His 1995 debut, “Ledbetter Heights,” and 1998′s “Trouble Is…” sold more than 1 million copies each.

This one boasts a single, “Tina Maire,” that is receiving healthy airplay at classic rock radio, but more importantly includes a DVD in which Shepherd, who turns 30 this summer, chats and performs with legends of the genre.

The “10 Days” in the title refers to a trek he took visiting blues musicians at their homes and at local clubs, filming and performing with them. Some — chiefly Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown — have died since they were filmed, but many continue to perform.

The DVD “10 Days Out: Blues From the Backroads” features 80-year-old B.B. King, Henry Townsend (97), Pinetop Perkins (93), Honeyboy Edwards (91) and the youngster, Hubert Sumlin (75), who played guitar in Howlin’ Wolf’s greatest bands. Many of the musicians in Shepherd’s film, directed by Noble Jones, also appear in Jay Levy’s fine docu “Blues Story,” which Shout Factory released in 2003.

Some of the proceeds from Shepherd’s DVD-CD are being donated to Music Maker Relief Foundation, an org that helps impoverished blues artists. The Blues Music Foundation announced Tuesday that it had given $25,000 to Music Maker as part of its grants program.

Area 51 is a weekly look at albums that chart between Nos. 51 and 200 on Nielsen SoundScan.

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