I attended the Ottawa leg of the Jimi Hendrix Experience tour last week at the NAC. The two guitarists that got me there were Eric Johnson and Steve Vai respectively but I was pleasantly surprised with the other guys playing on the night. "Burnin" Vernor Reid was there. Remember him from "Living Color"? They had that hit "Cult of Personality" back in the 80's? I never liked him much. I found his lightning fast solos to be nothing more than him tremolo-picking 124 and 134 fingering patterns up and down all six strings in areas on the neck sort of relative to the key of the song. He doesn't really worry too much about being "in the key of anything".. Still, his bass player was great and the singer has a great voice. He reminded me of "Re-run from the TV sitcom "What's happening" though. (this is not a good thing).
Jimi's original bass player was there. He opened the show with this pirate guitarist, one of the Isley brothers. He can still pound out a baseline and sing!
Eric Johnson came out and did some obscure Hendrix tunes. His sound was awesome as always and his clean sound on the ballad he did killed. I wonder if he drove up to Ottawa (I hear he doesn't like to fly). Eric's not as animated as the other guitarist on the ticket but he lives and breathes Hendrix and I don't think anyone else on the evening got it as right as he did.
The biggest surprise for me was Kenny Wayne Sheppard. he was the one who channeled the spirit of Hendrix that night. He was awesome. He got to do a 15 minute rendition of Voodoo Chile and really did Jimi justice. I'm going to check out some of his stuff now. Also on the bill was Johnny Lang, whom I mix up with Kenny Wayne Sheppard, so know I know the difference. (Kenny Wayne is much better!). Lang seems to play with his fingers and no pick which has always bugged me unless you're Jeff beck or that guy from Dire straights. You limit yourself in this style when you don't use plectrum.
There was a very Interesting Hawaiian guitar`lap steel player who did a great version of Purple Haze with two other guys. I forget his name but he was very cool.
By the time Steve Vai came on i was quite tired of the Pentatonic orgy that had been going on and was looking forward to someone who could play full linear scale melodies for a change and Vai did not disappoint. he was his quirky self and this is the first time I have ever seen him play without his big fan down by his pedal board blowing his hair back like some hooded cobra snake guitar god..
He did things with his guitar that night that I am still trying to figure out..
The sold-out crowd was also impressive. I could not get over how the 16 year old girl next to me knew all the words to some of the obscure Hendrix tunes I had never heard of. Go figure. Too bad that guy died young. I would have liked to have seen the further pinnacles of guitardom he would certainly have achieved.