The 2014 version of the Experience Hendrix Tour, an all-star tribute to the legendary guitarist, stopped at Harrah’s SoCal Resort in Valley Center on October 9.
This year’s version of the tour featured a diverse lineup of guitar virtuosos who all came together with the common mission of honoring Jimi Hendrix’s musical legacy. The main stars of the evening included Blues Legend Buddy Guy, Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Eric Johnson, and Black Label Society’s Zakk Wylde. The incredibly talented group of guitarists all played their own versions of classic Hendrix songs, including hits from his various groups like The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Band of Gypsys. Original band member Billy Cox held down the low end on bass for many of the songs, bringing his charm and infectious smile to the packed house.
The entire concert was a demonstration of precise choreography as an endless variety of musicians appeared from the wings forming various groups that tackled each song. Other talented musicians that joined in included Black Crowes guitarist Rich Robinson, Doyle Bramhall II, Mato Nanji, Ana Popovic, and Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble drummer Chris Layton. Seeing all of these legendary musicians mix and match was a rare treat. Guitarist and singer Dani Robinson, a member of a San Francisco-based Hendrix tribute act Stone Free Experience, caused more than one double take as he perfectly mimed the rock god’s famous moves.
Highlights of the evening included a searing version of “Are You Experienced?” by guitar virtuoso Eric Johnson. Zakk Wylde brought some intense metal energy and never-ending solos to “Manic Depression” and “Purple Haze.” And an all-star medley featuring each of the players on “All Along the Watchtower” was breathtaking. Grammy-winner Buddy Guy came on late in the set to tell personal stories about Jimi and played an appropriately dirty version of “Red House” with Billy Cox.
All of the various guitar players unleashed a barrage of overwhelming guitar solos throughout the evening, but Johnny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepard were clearly tied for the crown of most faces melted. The chance to see all of these legendary musicians play together was truly unique, and the chance to really experience Jimi Hendrix’s music played in all its glory by people who actually knew him made for one fantastic show.