For a living, breathing testament to the wide-ranging influence guitar innovator Jimi Hendrix had (and continues to have) on contemporary music, one need only glance at the lineup for this year’s Experience Hendrix tour, an annual traveling tribute to the Rock legend featuring current artists performing Hendrix’s music. His unparalleled guitar approach has touched musicians across generations and genres, and he was one of the rare musicians to actually change how an instrument is played. His style was magical, otherworldly and to this day fans and musicians listen and wonder, “How the hell did he do that?”
The Experience tour was the brainchild of Hendrix’s father, James “Al” Hendrix. The seeds were planted in 1995 when the Hendrix family presented the one-off Jimi Hendrix Electric Guitar Festival in the guitarist’s Seattle hometown. The concept grew over the years before morphing into its more extended road-show incarnation.
Besides younger disciples, the Experience Hendrix tours have also included artists who’ve played with the guitarist, including Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox, the bassist for The Jimi Hendrix Experience and his later Band of Gypsys. Cox returns to the tour this year joined by Chris Layton, drummer for Hendrix worshiper Stevie Ray Vaughn’s longtime backing band, Double Trouble. This year’s tour also features a guitarist who Hendrix considered a prime influence — Buddy Guy (the 79-year-old legend’s Born to Play Guitar just won the Grammy for Best Blues Album).
Most of the rest of this year’s Hendrix tour lineup (which includes several artists who’ve done the tour previously) are high-profile players in the Blues Rock world. Artists playing the Cincy date include Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Jonny Lang, Ana Popovic (a headliner at the 2013 Cincy Blues Fest) and Mato Nanji. They’ll be joined by a pair of players known for exploring the boundaries of Rock — Dweezil Zappa and Eric Johnson — as well as a bona fide Metal guitar god, Zakk Wylde, former axeman for Ozzy Osbourne and founder of Black Label Society.