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Taken from Fairfax County Times (Sep 01, 2017)

Honoring Hendrix

by Keith Loria Special to the Fairfax County Times

The Ambassador: Jimi Hendrix – A 50th Anniversary and 75th Birthday concert event is Friday, Sept. 1 at Wolf Trap at 8 p.m.

There’s no denying that Jimi Hendrix was one of the most influential musicians of all-time, as the electric guitar maestro accomplished some of rock’s most iconic moments in such a short period of time.

Sadly, Hendrix passed away in 1970 at the young age of 27, a year after wowing the folks at Woodstock and seeing his third-straight album ride the top of the charts. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame call him “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.”

On Sept. 1, a group of all-star musicians will gather for a special concert at Wolf Trap, to pay tribute to the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s historic Washington, D.C. debut at the Ambassador Theater 50 years ago, which also coincides with what would have been his 75th birthday.

Those taking part include Fishbone, Ernie Isley, Nona Hendryx and Living Color guitarist Vernon Reid, all brought together by producer Danny Kapilian.

“We’ve all done projects together in the past with Danny – I’ve done a Prince project, a Joni Mitchell project, and when he reached out to me about this, I knew I wanted to be a part of it,” Reid said.

Fishbone will serve as the primary band for the concert, and Reid and the other guest singers and guitarists will join in on certain songs.

Vernon Reid of Living Color leads a crew of guitar-slingers in paying homage to Jimi Hendrix.

“Last summer Living Color and Fishbone did a project together at Brooklyn’s Afropunk Fest, and we played a little bit of each other’s music as well as our own music,” Reid said. “An early version of Living Color actually opened for them the first time we played in New York, so we’ve had an association with those guys for a long time.”

For the Hendrix tribute, Reid said to expect many of the same songs that were played at the original Ambassador show 50 years ago. That includes such iconic tunes as “Fire,” “Hey Joe,” “Foxey Lady” “Spanish Castle Magic” and of course, “Purple Haze.”

While Reid was too young to have heard Hendrix in his heyday, he remembers seeing him on the Dick Cavett show and one day after Hendrix died, Reid got a cassette tape from a friend in high school.

“It was the ‘Band of Gypsys’ live album and it blew my mind. He was such a fascinating figure and really unique,” Reid said. “I had just started playing guitar a little bit and after listening to that tape, I just went backwards and started listening to everything he did.”

Reid started learning all his songs and it helped him to become the guitar player he is today, just like millions of others who play. He said Hendrix changed the role of the guitar in the popular imagination.

“I think his legacy is massive and on-going,” he said. “His legacy is not fully appreciated. It goes much further than the obvious of hearing someone like Frank Marino or Robin Trower. His influence as a songwriter bled into the alternative movement. His imprint is on Pearl Jam, his imprint is on Soundgarden. And his influence as a figure is ongoing as people keep discovering him.”

The 65-year-old Ernie Isley, a member of the Isley Brothers, has a long history with Hendrix. When he was just 12, Hendrix lived with his family and played guitar for his brothers in the earliest version of the Isley Brothers.

“The sound of electric lead guitar continues to have a presence in popular music and that is a direct connection from Hendrix to the Isley Brothers,” Reid said. “When you hear, ‘Who’s that Lady?’ that was a complete reinvention, really stirred on by Ernie Isley, and it became a rock and funk classic because he took on that influence of Hendrix.”

All of that will come out at the Hendrix tribute and fans should expect a concert for the ages that will do the legendary performer proud.


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