We are of the belief that no one can truly pick up where a proper maverick like Jimi Hendrix left off. It's as if there's an unspoken understanding amongst guitarists that Hendrix's playing style is a language unto itself. One really can't be faulted for chasing such a unique dragon, even if it's to the detriment of their own individuality.
However, while there have been plenty of notable, perhaps less-creative Hendrix biters over the years, those that really crack the code and get to the true essence of Hendrix's greatness tend to chase his fearless individuality. That is what allowed the guitarist and songwriter to deliver unique and now ubiquitous double-stop licks and harnessed screaming crescendos of feedback, making music of noise. These people strive for originality in their own art and seek a spirit beyond the sound. Prince comes to mind.
The Experience Hendrix Tour was born out of the necessity to celebrate and pay tribute to the man and his art. It's been channeled through the hands of a rotating, all star cast of players looking to pay homage to the great mold-breaker. The tours have all featured guitarists with their own legacies and unique voices, and it is this that makes Experience Hendrix such an exciting thing. Not only does it provide an opportunity to celebrate Hendrix's music, but it also affords fans a chance to hear the way other legendary players perceive and interpret the man's art.
As usual, the 2014 iteration of the tour features an absolutely stacked lineup of players. Here are the top five people we're most excited to see perform at this year's Experience Hendrix at Hard Rock Live Hollywood.
5. Buddy Guy
Buddy Guy is a god damned national treasure and, sadly, one of the last remaining bluesmen with real roots in the origins of the movement. While Hendrix's take on the blues was a departure from just about anything heard prior, Guy's fiery attack and wild string bends were of particularly important influence on Jimi. Guy still goes after it like he did in the day and should not to be missed!
4. Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Shepherd was a blues-rock wunderkind that was slated as the heir apparent to Stevie Ray Vaughan's still-warm throne. For better or worse, the young Shepherd openly carried the SRV bug many guitarists of his age group caught -- he just did it much better than anyone else.
This kinda sorta makes him the second heir to the Hendrix throne as many sought to place SRV in a similar position under Hendrix during his own rise to stardom. You can do the math, but ultimately it means Shepherd can deliver the Hendrixian goods with an uncanny amount of conviction. Also, how sick is late '90s fashion in this video?
3. Doyle Bramhall II
Bramhall II is best known as Eric Clapton's lefthand man and guitar sparring partner and a first call producer in his own right, but Bramhall's roots lie in the same Austin, Texas, scene that spawned Stevie Ray Vaughan, a scene built upon the two things Austin does better than anyone: traditional blues and psychedelia. Also breakfast food (have you ever had migas?! Unreal.).
From his days in Arc Angels with the former SRV rhythm section (including a certain Chris Layton who will be performing on the Experience Hendrix tour) to current solo excursions, Bramhall has proven himself to be one of the most underrated (by the mainstream) guns in the game and will undoubtedly provide a real surprise for some fans. He's also the only left-handed player on the bill, which makes him the most Jimi-esque visually, and that's gotta count for something.
2. Eric Johnson
Another member of the Austin guitar mafia, Johnson is the quintessential guitarist's guitarist. An athlete of the instrument, an unbelievably finicky tonal tinkerer, Johnson's signature sound is unmistakable, and while most might not pick out the Hendrix influence on first listen, Johnson is a full on Hendrix freak and a student of all things Jimi.
1. Jonny Lang
Much like Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Jonny Lang broke as a 14-year-old blues guitar virtuoso. However, Lang came out punching with a distinct sound of his own and an unbelievably soulful voice that never warranted the comparisons that made and plagued Shepherd's career.
Lang faded into mainstream obscurity for a few years with a detour into the land of Christian rock, but has refocused on making more accessible records in recent years. Billy Murray makes this video, but so does Ronnie Wood wearing a shirt with a print of his own art work and Buddy Guy's Samuel L. Jackson vibes and intense guitar faces.
Experience Hendrix. 8 p.m., September 19, at Hard Rock Live Hollywood, One Seminole Way, Hollywood. Tickets cost $49 to $69. Visit hardrocklivehollywoodfl.com.
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