Have You Ever Been Experienced?
imi Hendrix’s music is the catalyst that brought me down the path I walk today. As I watch my own timeline unfold, I keep looking back to the night I first heard “Voodoo Child” for the very first time. Up until that night, I was just someone who mindlessly swallowed what the radio fed him, which consisted of the same songs played at least a dozen times a day. Then, there was Jimi Hendrix. Then, there was a reason to keep listening. Then, there was the first step down the path I’m walking right now.
The path I walk today is a cross between music journalist and audio engineer. Before listening to “Voodoo Child”, who knows what today would look like. I’ll save you the minutia of how I got here. Instead, this post is a quick recap about what I experienced over the weekend.
Eric Johnson, Dweezil Zappa, Zakk Wylde, Johnny Lang…
Those are just a few of the guitar-wielding overlords I had the pleasure of seeing at Knoxville’s historic Tennessee Theater on Saturday, March 16th. A lineup of legendary talent arrived in downtown Knoxville to pay homage to Jimi Hendrix. Among them stood Billy Cox, who played with Band of Gypsys before Hendrix’s untimely death in 1970. Seeing Billy Cox in the flesh sent the crowd back to Woodstock 1969.
Things got loud in a way that sent ripples through the currents of my bloodstream. Every musician played songs true to the recordings and built upon them using their own creative flair. Eric Johnson, whose experimental guitar playing was inspired by Are You Experienced in 1967, gave “The Wind Cries Mary” another life. Zakk Wylde planted fresh mountains on top of the “Little Wing” solo. Johnny Lang traded licks with Mato Nanji over “Spanish Castle Magic”. Throughout the entire night, it felt like Hendrix was breathing down my neck. When I closed my eyes, I heard him on stage.
Zakk Wylde, one of the last guitar heroes, stormed into the crowd like a viking straight from hell. Things got “Wylde”, for lack of a better description. With his guitar behind his back, Wylde walked down the aisles, delivering a lightning guitar solo that seemed to go on for ages. He quickly became the crowd favorite. Just when it sounded like the storm was over, we found him walking up the edge of the balcony, fearlessly parading his axe behind his head like a 6-string guillotine. Next thing we knew, he was right in front of us, saluting to the crowd below with his pick high in the air. He was so close, I could see the gnarly stitching on his deathly Black Label vest.
Both Sides of the Sky
As I waited for the night to roll around, I revisited Both Sides of the Sky – a 13-track “vault” album that includes 10 studio recordings captured between 1968 and 1970. The collection represents the loose ends that followed his final studio album, Electric Ladyland.
It feels good to rekindle the same jolt of musical inspiration that struck me years back. Listening to the recordings all over again is brisk. I got to experience the same energy ride the rails of my chair at the Tennessee Theater. It tore open old guitar calluses. It gave me the same initial feeling of intrigue that brought me to this blog. Much like the first time I started playing electric guitar, I don’t know where I’ll end up.
The Experience Hendrix 2019 Tour is a must-see for those of you who appreciate the legacy of Jimi Hendrix and find something special in his music. I loved the show, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. Sure, I got to see Joe Satriani do…what Joe Satriani does. The best part was feeling the throb of Billy Cox’s bass. It was a drone that I could feel reaching out to me as it crawled along the gilded edges of the Tennessee Theater. It was Jimi, and all he said was one word: “Hello”.
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