James Marshall Hendrix: Chances are you’ve heard the name before. If not, how have you survived living in a rock’n roll world for the last 50 years? Hendrix is universally regarded as one of the most influential musicians of all-time, the artist that revolutionized and popularized the electric guitar as a solo instrument in the 1960’s, before his death at the age of 27 in 1970.
Now 42-years after death by bad personal decisions, Hendrix music lives on as witnessed at Tulsa’s Brady Theater last Tuesday night when an all-star cast celebrated his music in front of an energized crowd. “Experience Hendrix” guided fans through a three and a half hour journey past musical milestones that defined a generation with some of today’s biggest stars on stage.
Experience Hendrix CEO and President Janie Hendrix, Jimi’s sister, greeted the audience as the show kicked off saying, “Enjoy our electric church.” The strong round of applause from the audience an indication they knew what was to come. All of the artists, and it was a long list; put their own spin on their favorite Hendrix tunes, each resulting in a standing ovation from an excited crowd.
The amount of star-power present at this show makes it difficult to accurately recount every detail of the night. Robby Krieger of The Doors, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos, Eric Johnson, Dweezil Zappa, Brad Whitford of Aerosmith, Bootsy Collins, The Slide Brothers, and Jonny Lang, to name a few, were all playing at the highest level – three generations – with unique skills providing powerful interpretations of Jimi Hendrix’s most significant hits. If there has ever been a show that qualified as "you had to be there" this is that show for those that love or even just appreciate what a guitar can do.
The night began with bassist Billy Cox leading Mato Nanji, Byron Bordeaux and Chris Layton through “Stone Free.” “Yeah!,“ proclaimed Bordeaux following the opening number. “Livin’ on Tulsa time!,“ he added. Layton, former drummer for Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, would remain at the drum kit with a well-miked bass drum keeping a steady beat throughout the night as the cast continually changed in front of him. Behind Layton; a large video screen displayed images of Jimi Hendrix as the cast powered through music that moved and still moves multiple generations.
The Tulsa show seemed to have three distinct parts, with two blues-driven segments sandwiching a phenomenal middle-segment led by funk legend Collins. Joined on stage by Robert Randolph, Calvin Cooke and Chuck Campbell, Collins ran through an excellent rendition of “Purple Haze.” The group paused briefly during the song to lead the audience on a sing-along, repeating “excuse me while I funk up the sky, Jimi’s music will never die,” several times before continuing the number. Eric Gales and Nanji then came to the stage, joining in on a fantastic version of “Foxey Lady.”
Krieger was in fine form, coming onto the stage several times, joining Hidalgo and Rosas for “Killing Floor,” and “Hey Joe,” and Lang and Whitford for “Rock Me Baby.” Eric Gales also provided some fantastic moments, as he explored every last inch of the stage while playing his guitar upside down, lefty style just like Hendrix did.
Johnson, along with Scott Nelson on bass, ran through “Burning Of The Midnight Lamp,” before they were joined by Zappa for “Little Miss Lover,” and “Love Or Confusion.” The pair finished off their portion of the program with “Power of Love,” and “Are You Experienced?”
Experience Hendrix photo slide show.
Photos by: Kevin Pyle
Saving the best for last, the show kicked up a notch as Lang and Whitford took the stage, playing “All Along The Watchtower,” “Fire,” and “Like A Rolling Stone.” Their version of “Spanish Castle Magic” included powerful solos from each and a brief duel as they rolled along through the song. Lang, as always, was impressive in pouring heart and soul both into vocals and guitar before leaving the stage drenched in sweat.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd then came to the stage, joined by Noah Hunt who sang “I Don’t Live Today,” and “Come On.” After a quick guitar change, Hunt sang a few words and left the stage as KWS shredded his way through a medley of “Voodoo Child” that brought the audience to their feet. Shepherd displayed the skill and precision that clearly stripped the finish off of his guitar, wowing the crowd with his lightning-fast hand work and even taking a moment to play with the guitar behind his head.
Nanji, Randolph, Krieger and Cox then finished up the night with “Red House,” which again resulted in a standing ovation.
The magnitude of talent provided on this Tour is hard to explain. This brief recount of the night’s events pales in modest effort to capture what God given talent and earned skill from long practice provided from the Brady stage. The appreciation of an audience well populated by musicians from throughout the four-state area was evident. The Experience Hendrix Tour is a fantastic show. If you have ever played guitar or appreciated others in that effort; you owe it to yourself to see the Experience Hendrix Tour.