Experience Hendrix 2017 @ Peabody Opera House, St. Louis, MO

Words and photos by Duane Clawson
If I could have chosen a time to be discovering music it certainly would have been the late 60's and early 70's.  So many new musical directions were forming during that time.  And guitar players were stretching the boundaries of what their six-string instruments could do when paired with electricity!  Enter a young man from Seattle, WA, the world came to know him as Jimi Hendrix.  A combination of a love for the guitar (it was rumored he slept with it), drug experimentation, and asking “what happens when I do this?” made his short, four-year mainstream career one that is often imitated but never duplicated to this very day!

Not so much as to imitate the man but to honor his legacy, Experience Hendrix was born.  The ever-evolving cast of musicians keeps the Experience fresh.  At the core of the show is Billy Cox, Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys bassist.  Cox and members of the Hendrix family have kept the music alive with a stellar collection of some of the world’s best musicians!  Providing a majority of the thump in the background are drummer Chris Layton (Double Trouble), bassist Scott Nelson (Kenny Wayne Shepherd), drummer Tim Austin (Buddy Guy), and vocalist Noah Hunt (Kenny Wayne Shepherd).

Perennial guitar slingers that continue to make the tour highly successful include Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society), Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Dweezil Zappa, and Buddy Guy.

Janie Hendrix, Jimi’s sister, greets the Hendrix fans in attendance and likens the night to church.  The electric church!  Janie also notes the unfortunate news of the day, the passing of Chuck Berry.  A few hoots and hollers in Chuck’s memory were soon drowned out by the squall of Dweezil Zappa and Billy Cox, teaming up to take on Hendrix’s, “Freedom”.  From here on there is no looking back.  Vocalist Henri Brown joins Cox and Zappa, lending his vocal talents to, “Foxy Lady”, his vocal style put extra pop in this Hendrix classic.  Ana Popovic’s guitar was smokin', as she tackled “House Burning Down”.  Her time on stage was short but her talents on the guitar made a lasting impression.

As mentioned, the news of Chuck Berry’s passing was the topic of the day and Kenny Wayne Shepherd chose to remember the rock legend, with a rousing, unrehearsed version of "Johnny B. Goode"!  I gotta admit I had a lump in my throat as I remembered the time I met Mr. Berry.  The always captivating Beth Hart joined Shepherd and Jonny Lang for an unparalleled rendition of, “Fire”!  Before the intermission, Zakk Wylde gave Hendrix fans more than they had bargained for as he hit the stage in full rock star mode, ripping through “Manic Depression”, “Little Wing”, and “Purple Haze”!  Wylde wades through the crowd during “Little Wing”, giving fans an up close and personal view of his skills on guitar.

Although not as well-known as some of the guitar greats, Mato Nanji, nailed the role of supporting guitar great and had his brief moments to shine throughout the second half of the show.  As if this star packed lineup was not enough, there was still room for one more star to close out the evening, Buddy Guy!  This 80-year-old blues legend has not lost his flair for performing, in fact, like a fine wine, he’s only improved with age.  Saving the best for last, Guy, Cox, and Nanji are spot on with their covers of, “Hey Joe” and “Red House”.  As the hum of the amplifiers fade, the whole cast returns to the Peabody stage, for one final bow.  The fact is we should be bowing to them for keeping the music of the master alive!

Thanks to our host, The Peabody, and to Experience Hendrix management for allowing MTC MAG to review this always great production.  Photos of the show are below:

Contributed by Duane Clawson
Experience Hendrix 2017 @ Peabody Opera House, St. Louis, MO Experience Hendrix 2017 @ Peabody Opera House, St. Louis, MO Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on March 29, 2017 Rating: 5
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