The first set of the Experience Hendrix concert would have been a great show by itself, but it still had more to go. A lot more. You couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting an A-list guitar picker singing and playing a classic Jimi Hendrix song onstage. After a short intermission where they added to the 20+ amps already onstage, it was time for more of what everyone came to see. DOYLE BRAMHALL II, the left-handed guitar slinger from Austin, TX, came out and dazzled the crowd right away with “My Friend,” a song released posthumously. It’s always fun to watch Doyle as he plays a right-handed guitar turned upside down so his fretting is completely opposite.
He continued with “Killing Floor,” with its rock and roll ending that holds up today as well as it did during Jimi’s height of popularity. Doyle was in great voice and having fun just as he also was for Jimi’s cover of the HOWLIN’ WOLF song, “The Sky Is Crying.”
This was indeed another fan favorite for the evening with its pulsating guitar licks that ended in a fabulous one-man jam. It’s very evident that Mr. Bramhall spent his early years under the influence of Stevie Ray Vaughan, himself a Hendrix devotee.
JONNY LANG replaced Doyle onstage and immediately kicked ass on “All Along The Watchtower” with his own solo and a companion solo by the returning ZAKK WYLDE that combined speed and precision to stun the audience. ERIC JOHNSON then came out for “Fire,” with its double-jam that had the crowd shouting, “This is fabulous!” Mr. Lang may play the guitar as an instrument, but to the audience it seemed as if the music that came out was part of his soul, not notes from a man-made tool.
The two virtuosos continued their mastery on “The Wind Cries Mary” as the classics kept coming. Jonny tore into a deep cut version of “Spanish Castle Magic” as the returning Mato inspired everyone with his solo before the two men jammed like big dogs to everyone’s delight.
One of my favorite performers, KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD, made his first appearance of the night and beautifully performed “Gypsy Eyes.” He absolutely shredded the hard strings he uses and continued to shine on “I Don’t Live Today,” for which he received a well-deserved standing ovation for his skill and passion. Without a break in the action,Kenny Wayne lit into “Come On (Baby Let The Good Times Roll)” and the audience went more than wild, they went ape-shit crazy.
The crowd was probably breaking a noise ordinance, but it got even louder when he played the first few notes of “Voodoo Chile.” His hands and fingers were doing things that very few can master as he was Joe Bonamassa-esque. He went off Hendrix-style to play behind his head and then one-handed, which drew hoots and hollers. He handled the guitar like Lucas McCain of The Rifleman and had the same results as the TV character as he absolutely killed it.
Everyone was on their feet and spent with emotion as BILLY COX came back out and introduced the one and only BUDDY GUY. The Living Legend treated us to an instrumental song, “Who Knows,” which made every single blues lover go wild.
He then, in a way only a 79-year-old, six-time Grammy winner can say, told the audience “The next song is so funky you can smell it.” He said it was about dancing with a girl and being as close to her as a pig is to pork. What woman wouldn’t love to hear that from her man? He was having a great time honoring his late friend as he dove into the MUDDY WATERS song that Jimi played so well, “Louisiana Blues.”
Buddy gave up center stage as Mato then impressed everyone when he nailed “Hey Joe” to the crowd’s delight. It really turned into a favorite when Buddy added his solo that looked and sounded as if he were much younger. Henri Brown joined the group with a purely soulful version of “Them Changes.” He added such a stage presence that made the audience take notice and Mr. Guy showed why he is a Kennedy Center Award winner as his solo made every single person shake their moneymaker.
After this fantastic jam, Billy Cox said the the last song of this great night was Jimi’s favorite as he finished the 3 – ½ hour concert with “Red House. Of all the times I’ve been lucky enough to see BUDDY GUY, this may have been his most hellacious guitar riff, and the rest of the crowd was almost orgasmic as he was in uncharted waters for most players. They finished with a terrific jam, but, unfortunately, the concert had to end. The stage then filled with all the amazing musicians of the night and they took a bow as the audience gave them pure love for their performances.
It was a fantastic night of music honoring the greatest guitar player of all time who was only a superstar for four years before his tragic death at age 27. All of the musicians enjoyed paying tribute to the man who paved the way for guitar slingers to be a main attraction and carry a show.
The caliber of performers was phenomenal and made it a night to remember for everyone who made it to the concert.
There were so many highlights from the 25 songs played. Every star brought something different and exciting to the show that added up to pure enjoyment. The guitarists were, of course, amazing. The singers were so very talented and brought a new dimension to the music. Chris Slayton drummed with the fluidity that has made him a Hall of Famer. And BUDDY GUY is BUDDY GUY – what else can you say?
The real star of the night, though, was the legacy left behind by the one and only James Marshall Hendrix. He is, indeed, the greatest!
LIVE WORDS: DAVID SIMERS
LIVE PHOTOS: GUZPIX