Experience Hendrix at The Strathmore
It was a little surreal watching the first stop of 2012’s Experience Hendrix tour tear into Bethesda Maryland’s venerable Strathmore Hall, where the only haze in the air was generated by a few tightly controlled smoke machines and the capacity crowd sat politely applauding the intense music pouring off the stage. But perhaps classic rock is becoming apropos in such situations. After all, Hendrix can arguably be counted among the great American composers … right?
Giants like blues legend Buddy Guy, original Band of Gypsies drummer Billy Cox, and Aerosmith axeman Brad Whitford provided historic star power while a host of younger celebs divided the remaining guitar, bass, drum and vocal chores. Among these were: Johnny Lang, Kenny Wayne Sheppard, Dweezil Zappa, Eric Gales, and Scott Nelson.
The music was quite good really, considering the unavoidable fact that it will vastly improve as the tour picks up momentum and the musicians get a chance to truly jell with each other. It was interesting to hear how the different players interpreted the songs in their own artistic voices while still staying true enough to form to please the audience. Oh, and as an obvious homage to Jimi, everyone played a Strat!
Hendrix fans were in rock-n-roll heaven during the awesome guitar duels and energetic renditions of every important Hendrix tune known to man, plus a few surprises like Eric Gales quoting Beethoven in an unaccompanied guitar cadenza and Brad Whitford stepping into the lead guitar spotlight and really kicking some ass! With that said, due to its popularity and high quality, I have a feeling the Experience Hendrix tour is here to stay!
I had a quick chat with the ever amazing Dweezil Zappa after the show:
What’s it like to be on this tour playing these Hendrix tunes in this environment?
Well tonight was the first night so it was a little bit of a challenge to get prepared for it. Basically I took the same approach that I did with my dad’s music. I’m trying to get all of the authentic details from the sounds on the records to mannerisms and idiosyncrasies’ of Jimi’s playing and incorporate them into my own playing. I was a challenge to do it and we didn’t have any rehearsal.
So it was just totally get up there and jam?
Well it was like get up there, do all the work at home, and hope that it all works when you get people together, hope we all know the same version.
Well it sounded really good!
Good! It was the first time that I played the songs.
So what’s with that Strat you’re using?
Well that’s one you’ve seen before it has a picture of Frank on the side I think I had it at Dweezilla when you were there.
But that’s not your refurbished burnt Hendrix Strat?
No, it’s not the burned guitar.
Are you using the same rig for ZPZ and Experience Hendrix? If not what's different?
I am using the same rig for both tours. It has been equipped with some specific pedals from Jam to make the Hendrix stuff have the right feel and texture. Their Fuzz Phrase and Red Muck are getting used a lot.
What did the music of Jimi Hendrix do for the evolution of rock guitar?
Jimi's music will always have an impact on any generation. He played with a great combination of explosive energy, fearlessness and groove. His tone at the time was a revelation to guitarists and is still emulated today and likely forever.
Do you care to comment on the state of affairs politically in America today?
I don’t follow politics these days. I’d rather spend time with my daughters.