Band of Gypsies
PG Goes Behind the Scenes on the
Experience Hendrix Tour to Talk Gear
with the Gods and Demigods of Guitar
WRITTEN BY CHRIS KIES AND JORDAN WAGNER
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS KIES
108 PREMIERGUITAR JUNE2010
Welcome to another edition of Premier Guitar.
This month we’re celebrating Jimi Hendrix by
examining how a cadre of tremendous players approached the task of paying tribute
to the guitar great. The lineup of this year’s
Experience Hendrix Tour included guitarists
who influenced Hendrix, guitarists who knew
him, and guitarists who follow in his footsteps.
We caught up with them at their Milwaukee,
Wisconsin, tour stop and asked them to talk
about their connection to the Voodoo Chile’s
music—and the rigs they used to pay homage
to it. Consider the company: Eric Johnson,
Billy Cox, Joe Satriani, Hubert Sumlin, Susan
Tedeschi, Brad Whitford, Ernie Isley, Vernon
Reid, Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd,
and Robert Randolph. Let’s just say it was
quite an experience.
Other features this month include our exploration of the gear that first-generation punks
Tribute tours. The idea isn’t exactly revolutionary. If you live near a
city of significant size, it’s probably normal to see everything from Beatles,
Pink Floyd, and Queen tribute bands, Elvis impersonators, Django Reinhardt
festivals, and Van Halen cover bands pass through at any time of the year.
But there’s only one tour with the kind of cachet to prompt the gods of guitar to kneel do wn in mutual reverence: The Experience Hendrix Tribute Tour.
This year marks the fourth that the all-star concert traveled the US to celebrate the short but revolutionary career of
James Marshall Hendrix. The first incarnation of the idea was the Jimi Hendrix Electric Guitar Festival, the headlining
attraction at Seattle’s 1995 Bumbershoot festival. The festival was held again in 1998, and it was follo wed by t wo Jimi
Hendrix Electric Guitar Competition tours, and then three all-star tribute tours under the Experience Hendrix moniker.
This year’s tour included guitarists who inspired Hendrix—Hubert Sumlin (who gained fame in 1955 as Howlin’ Wolf’s
sideman)—those who actually knew Hendrix—Billy Cox and Ernie Isley—and big-name ax slingers whose styles simply
wouldn’t exist as we know them if it weren’t for Hendrix’s influence—Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, Kenny Wayne Shepherd,
Jonny Lang, Robert Randolph, Brad Whitford, Vernon Reid, and Susan Tedeschi. But while this who’s-who lineup of guitar
gods and demigods joined the tour to honor the original Voodoo Chile, they all did so in true Hendrix fashion—by flying
the flag of their own uniqueness high the way Jimi would’ve wanted them to.
When you combine their incredible playing with the fact that we—and you—are as gaga for gear as they are, it was a no-brainer that PG had to check in with them. So our team packed up the cameras and mics to head north and go behind
the scenes at the March 21st show in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There we got the lowdown on all the guitars, amps, and
effects being used to revere Jimi and his legendary tones.
But we soon realized we had to talk about more than just the gear. It was also about the relationship these guitarists had
with their gear—how they got their known tones—as well as how they approached the daunting task of covering Hendrix
properly. Some used Strats, Marshalls, and vintage effects, while others used the same gear they’ve been using for years.
But no matter the formula, the result was original and unique renditions of tunes from Hendrix’s illustrious catalog.
The following pages chronicle our fly-on-the-wall encounters during the soundchecks, backstage hangs, and the epic
performances that night in Mil waukee. For one night, Jimi was alive and well in the form of 10 guitarists sharing a stage
to achieve a single goal—to experience Hendrix.
used to fight the establishment, as well as a
look back at New York City’s famous “Music
Row,” which was basically a Disneyland
for gearheads. We also break down Rob
Zombie’s “Dragula” and talk to High on
Fire’s Matt Pike about the group’s aggressive
return to the studio and the road.
Our review lineup is killer. We take Gibson’s
new Slash Appetite Les Paul for a spin, as
well as Jens Ritter’s innovative Princess
Isabella Baritone, which delivers hollowbody
tones without the hollowbody. We test drive
one of the new Lâg acoustics, the feature-packed Schecter Solo- 6 Custom, and fire up
Carr’s EL84-powered Artemus. We also put
on the headphones and plug into a JamHub
TourBus “silent rehearsal studio” to see if
personalized monitor mixes can help an
entire band get more out of a practice. New
gear and reworked classics from Ernie Ball,
Source Audio, Hardwire, and Blackcat pedals
round out the month’s review section.
Remember, the magazine you hold in your
hands or see before you on your computer
screen, on your iPad, or on your iPhone is
just one part of an onslaught of gearhead-focused stuff that is waiting for you to sink
your teeth into. In addition to giving you
the magazine the way you prefer it every
month, we also offer web-exclusive articles,
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at premierguitar.com. And our website is now
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There’s more new stuff every day, so cruise by
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