by Chris A.
– Senior Photojournalist —
March 18th, 2014 at the Kentucky Center in Louisville, KY.
For the musicians on the 2014 Experience Hendrix Tour, participating is easy. It’s a reunion of old friends who play guitar and share a love for the music and influence of Jimi Hendrix. “It’s a lot of fun,” remarked Aerosmith guitarist, Brad Whitford.
The now-annual show arrived in a pair of psychedelic-wrapped, Jimi Hendrix emblazoned tour buses, bearing its passengers, a host of guitarists-guitarists, as the tour rolled into Louisville, Ken.
The tour host was Janie Hendrix, Jimi’s sister, who, on this night, presented a lucky audience member a Fender Stratocaster. Dressed in an olive-drab, stylish military-style jacket, she briefly spoke to the sold out venue about her brother’s relationship with Kentucky.
“Kentucky was special to Jimi because he was stationed at Fort Campbell when he was with the 101st Airborne.” Pointing to the “Screaming Eagle” patch on her jacket, the remark garnered thunderous applause from the packed house. She smiled and waved as she welcomed everyone to “the electric church.”
With a who’s-who crew of Hendrix junkie, guitar-slingers in addition to “Experience” and “Band of Gypsies” member Billy Cox on hand, the show felt huge, but with a laid back, comfortable feel. On an individual level every participant was dynamic and performed brilliantly. It was easy to tell, every one of those guitarists on the stage had played those very Hendrix licks for decades. Some, for as long as they have been alive. That’s the power and the influence of Jimi and his skills.
Performers on the Louisville performance included: Buddy Guy, Billy Cox, Zakk Wylde, Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Dweezil Zappa, Eric Johnson, Cesar Rosas, David Hidalgo, Doyle Bramhall II, Eric Gales and Mato Nanji. A special treat on drums was Chris Layton, of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Double-Trouble.”
Truth be told, if anyone “stole” the show on this night it was Black Label Society and ex-Ozzy, shred-meister, Zakk Wylde who played a blistering 10-minute, finger-blurring, audience-mesmerizing solo during his allocated performance time. If you wondered who played “Purple Haze,” well yeah, it was Zakk. He was genuinely brilliant.
Other performances of note included Aerosmith guitarist Brad Whitford, who’s deft playing is often under appreciated. In addition, Kenny Wayne Shepherd electrified the crowd with his dynamic and well-played version of “Voodoo Chile”, (which transitioned into the “Slight Return” version.) When it comes to Buddy Guy, well, he’s so personable, so musical and simply drips with tone and personality.
This is perhaps the most fun you can have at a show and when it comes to seeing awesome electric guitar players, this is mega-bang for the bucks. The tour continues on through April 8. Catch it if you can you will not be disappointed.