Had fate and negligence not interfered, Jimi Hendrix would have turned 65 in 2008 – only five years older than Bruce Springsteen, four older than Carlos Santana, two older than John Fogerty, and 18 years younger than B.B. King, all of whom are still going strong.
Though we can only assume Jimi would still have the fire, creativity, and skill that made him shine so bright, it’s stupefying to imagine hearing him jam with his musical fathers (King, Guy), brothers (Santana, Clapton, Jeff Beck), and “sons,” some of whom deliver blazing versions of his songs here.
Mixed by Eddie Kramer, this DVD combines selections from San Diego and Seattle stops on the ’07 Experience Hendrix tribute tour. Though the dream version of this gig would climax with Jimi and the late Stevie Ray Vaughan in a jam, there to pick up the slack are Longtime Howlin’ Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumlin, Buddy Guy, Mick Taylor, and Paul Rodgers with Vaughan’s Double Trouble bandmates Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton and the Experience’s Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox. Rodgers sings his butt off, cementing his position as one of rock and roll’s great vocalists. And Cox, Jimi’s bassist of choice, reveals his underexposed vocal talent on “Freedom.”
Sumlin and Guy – who is unabashedly respectful and deferential to Sumlin onstage – carry themselves like the pros they are. Guy – 71 at the time of filming – teases, tantalizes, and satisfies on “Hootchie Coochee Man” and “Five Long Years” with his spot-on imitations of Muddy Waters’ gestures and style. His voice, reminiscent of Joe Tex, along with his still-dazzling chops, and Sumlin – then 75 – is confidently humble, playing with flashes of what made him such an influential part of blues guitar history.
Younger players also have spectacular moments. Kenny Wayne Shepherd is all swagger on drop-dead versions of “Come On (Let The good Times Roll),” “Voodoo Chile” and “I Don’t Live Today.” Kid Rock’s Keith Olsen brings more than a little Detroit sting to “Stone Free” with Mitchell, Cox, and Andy Aledort. If Olsen is a hair behind some of the other players in smooth virtuosity, he makes up for it the enthusiastic joy of a guy with something to (successfully) prove. Less cocky but equally impressive is Indigenous and its take on “Hear My Train A Comin’.” Guitarist Mato Nanje gives Taylor a run for his money on “Red House.” Indigenous, with Guy, Shepherd, and Eric Gales, provide the brightest highlights on a stone blast of a disc that’s loaded with them.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Dec. ’08 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.