There is no doubt that Jimi Hendrix is an Afro-punk icon, spawning the cultural movement of black people hitting mainstream success on the rock scene. Celebrating his legacy, the Experience Hendrix Tour is back for its 2010 nationwide tour, which kicked off in LA on March 2nd. More than ten bands are traveling across the U.S. to play a selection of Hendrix's greatest hits, including one of Afro-punk's favorites, Living Colour. We caught up with Living Colour's frontman and founder of the Black Rock Coalition, Vernon Reid, and asked him his take on Jimi Hendrix and why he is supporting the tour.
The tour line up is quite extensive. Who are you looking forward to playing with and why?
I'm looking forward to playing with all the great musicians on this tour at one time or another- I've known Joe Satriani for a long time, and love his playing. He's a great guy as well. To even be in the same room as Ernie Isley and Mr. Hubert Sumlin is an off the charts honor.
Why is Living Colour supporting The Jimi Hendrix Experience tour?
Hendrix is a hero to all of us and an American visionary.
When was your first Jimi Hendrix experience and how has that influenced you (if at all) musically over the years?
The first I heard of him was The Band Of Gypsy's record. Machine re-arranged my brain permanently. His extraordinary fluidity; transitioning from delicately ordered melody to raging chaotic noise back and forth has been very influential. I wish I could be as fearless as he was! His use of cutting edge guitar technology of the timeboth on stage and in the studio. The way Jimi upheld his blues and R&B roots whilst not being beholden and trapped by tradition. Most of all he influenced me to NOT imitate him, but to find my own voice on the instrument and have the courage to speak with it.
What's your favorite Jimi song/album?
Are You Experienced is my favorite song, Castles Made Of Sand is my favorite. Lyric Electric Ladyland is the most magical album.
On the tour, what Jimi songs will you be playing and how does that make you feel?
Power of Soul, Crosstown Traffic, alternately Burning of The Midnight Lamp-these are some his greatest compositions and I'm happy that we're doing them.
As founder of The Black Rock Coalition, what do you think of the current state of black people in rock music? Do you think it has improved or remain unchanged since Jimi Hendrix's time of coming onto the scene?
As far as the current state of black people in rock it's always going to be challenge, even when it's not a struggle; it's undeniable that there has been hard won incremental progress over the years, but not nearly enough in my view. It must be remembered that Jimi Hendrix, not unlike MLK , is almost universally adored TODAY. This was certainly not true during either of their lifetimes, even during the height of their respective successes. As a culture black people are generally much more conservative in their aesthetic outlook than we'd like to think or acknowledge. It's very much like family members who "love" you in one sense, but misunderstand and harshly judge in all others. We have a problem with radical visionaries in our midst, and we find it hard to embrace those who think and feel differently than the mainstream, even today. I believe that the mass indifference that black folks felt for Jimi during his lifetime was a source of great suffering for him. I wish that there was an BRC or an Afro Punk for Jimi while he lived. We wouldn't be here without him. The fact that new generations of musicians are making their way to rock & are challenging it to change is a part of Jimi's incredible legacy.
Billy Cox of The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Band Of Gypsys, Joe Satriani, Jonny Lang, Eric Johnson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Ernie Isley, Brad Whitford of Aerosmith, Doyle Bramhall II, Living Colour, Chris Layton of Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble and Cesar Rosas & David Hidalgo of Los Lobos.
Check out the Jimi Hendrix Experience when it hits your town:
2010 Experience Hendrix Tour dates:
(Tickets now on sale) Mar 4- Santa Barbara, CA — Arlington Theatre SOLD OUTMar 5
- Los Angeles, CA — Gibson AmphitheatreMar 6
- Las Vegas, NV — The Joint By Rogue at the Hard Rock HotelMar 7- Mesa, AZ — Ikeda Theatre (Mesa Arts Center) SOLD OUT
Mar 9- Friant, CA — Table Mountain Casino Events Center SOLD OUTMar 10
- San Francisco, CA — The WarfieldMar 11
- San Francisco, CA — The WarfieldMar 12
- Reno, NV — Silver Legacy Resort CasinoMar 14- Denver, CO — Paramount Theatre SOLD OUT
- Salina, KS — Stiefel Theatre For The Performing Arts
- Kansas City, MO — Uptown Theatre
- Minneapolis, MN — Orpheum Theatre
Mar 18- Chicago, IL — Chicago Theatre SOLD OUT
- St. Louis, MO — Fox Theatre
Mar 21- Milwaukee, WI — Riverside Theatre SOLD OUT
Mar 23- Akron, OH — Akron Civic Theatre SOLD OUT
Mar 24- Montclair, NJ — Wellmont Theatre SOLD OUT
Mar 25- Red Bank, NJ — Count Basie Theatre SOLD OUT
- Atlanta, GA — Fox Theatre
- Durham, NC — Durham Performing Arts Center