Shepard had a deep friendship with the legendary English musician and songwriter Kevin Ayers - meeting him in France by chance one day towards the end of an artist in residency - a stranger at a table reading a paperback in a mountain village square. Kevin Ayers had been a founding member of the seminal English experimental band Soft Machine. After completing their first album and two long tours with The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Ayers left his band. He went on to write and record a collection of highly acclaimed and influential albums for EMI and Island Record into the 1970's. Always the most reluctant of stars, and an utter exasperation to anyone trying to manage or market, Ayers would drift further and further away from expectation and eventually disappear. In early 2005 at Ayers' request, Shepard encouraged and supported the artist back into the studio where he worked closely alongside this unique, mercurial and fragile talent. With the help of Emmy Award winning engineer and producer Peter Henderson, and the participation of over 30 musicians, a ten track album was completed over a two year period. It was released worldwide to universal critical acclaim as The Unfairground in the autumn of 2007.
Whilst In New York City for six weeks of early sessions, organised by Brooklyn musician and producer Gary Olsen, Shepard visited Coney Island and created a landscape collage of Luna Park - later adapting it to create the cover artwork for both the gatefold vinyl and cd versions of the album release.
At British Grove Studio, London with Peter Henderson (Shepard 2007)
Front and back of 7" vinyl single baby come home b/w walk on water numbered limited edition release on Lo-Max records
Sessions for The Unfairground took place in Tuscon Az, Brooklyn NY, London, Glasgow and Montolieu, France. Shepard wandered these neighbourhoods with a cine camera during studio breaks. The resulting footage became a short film for the 7" single release of baby come home.
Kevin Ayers (1944-2013) - portrait of Kevin Ayers in Montolieu, France (Shepard, 2008)