Jimi

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This is a picture of me with my son on the site of the original Woodstock stage where Jimi once famously played the Star Spangled Banner. We were swept up in the moment. What better place for a jumping air guitar salute? “None more better place” is the answer.

Starting a series on icons of rock- I am starting with Jimi Hendrix.

There were guitars that screamed and guitars that jangled. And then came Jimi and the guitar would speak clearly of pain and of joy…..huh?….what?

Jimi and the guitar were one-he slept with his guitar because he was his guitar. When he had nothing as a small boy-he had a broom that he pretended was his guitar and it was his only friend.

Like Tom Hanks in Castaway with Wilson-unnatural bond of person to object.

And I forgot to mention-the best rock guitarist ever to walk the face of the earth. Period. No discussion needed.

[Since this is a blog –allow me to go on a bit more]

Especially for you kids that are new to rock music.

Rock is blues based.

This is a basic timeline.jimi-3

For purists only-this can sound a little rough as we cannot go back to the 1930’s and imagine how it would feel.  We can’t walk on those dusty roads and hitch a ride to the next town with 12 cents in our pocket.

Robert Johnson arrived and let the world know that something was going on in the delta. The best blues music is always someone going on a rant with their guitar about how things are in their world. You could say that about the best rock music, the best country music or the best hip hop music.

The truth thrown out there in a compelling way.

T-bone Walker added some fire to the guitar- he started doing things that no one else could.

“They call it stormy Monday, but Tuesday is just as bad.”

There are other songs that I should pick to show off the virtuoso in action—-but this is sooooo smooooooth.  It just dances and tickles the music palette before seeping gently into your soul.

Jimi ran all that energy and inspiration in one big liftoff that reached orbit. We got great guitar players now-we don’t have a name that I can place next .

Jack White is close if you make me force a choice. Close still does not fit. Like a giant stone used in the pyramids-it has to ease in there perfectly. I am still waiting.

And here is where we finish for now.

I am going for less fire and more heart in these tunes and want to end with one of the greats in that next group to follow. SVR spent his whole career chasing down Hendrix-he even carried one of the master’s wah wah pedals on this journey. I am not going to throw a link here-but I do write about a show where I was lucky to catch him with his boots on this pedal early in my blogging days.

Maybe lucky is not the right word- Let’s try blessed.

Wonder #7- “My band is playing Red Rocks!!, O.K we are something now!”

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Wonder #7- “My band is playing __________!!! , O.K we are something now!”

I started this list with a somewhat obscure beginning point for the origin of rock music that is as much a fable as it is truth -The Crossroads in Mississippi. And I am good with that.https://caveoffame.com/2013/02/20/the-devils-music/

I wanted to finish with a music venue that is alive and well and where rock lives right at the moment I hit the publish button.

It has to have 3 things:

1. Credibility from the past- History of Rock music supporting it.

2. Credibility right now-A band practicing in a random garage anywhere in the world might dream that one day they will play there.

3. “It makes me wonder”-It has to be a destination that makes you want to visit and worth the effort no matter if you are a fan or a musician. It holds the weight of true wonder.

There have been many places rock music has been alive…from the to the Royal Albert hall to Budokan and everything in between like: The Hollywood bowl, The Fillmore East, Monterey Fairgrounds, CBGB’s, Central Park, The Hammersmith Odeon/Apollo, Madison square Garden and The Cavern Club in Liverpool- to name a few from a large list.

You can argue if you want but this is my page and I am first to attempt this so I give you:

RedRocks
RedRocks (Photo credit: Slithy)

Wonder of Rock #7 Red Rocks

History:

The Beatles played here in 1964 and it did not sell out!

Jimi Hendrix played here.

This place truly rocks-it has rocks in its name and it is made out of rocks.

Right now:

Rolling Stone just named it best concert venue in the U.S.A

The Rolling Stones have not played here, but they are still going so it could happen.

Robert Plant played here last week.

Wonderness:

This place is friggin’ awesome (O.K I have not got here but that is how it holds in my brain!)

U2 picked this place for a concert movie/album and put it on the map for us non-believers to behold.

There is this whole ancient mystic thing…something that a place holds by itself and can’t be added in by developers.

There is a natural beauty about the setting that would make it a cool place to go even if there was no music.

Memories of SVR

Today would have been the 58th birthday of Stevie Ray Vaughan, it has been 22 years since the helicopter crash outside of Chicago that ended his run. I was fortunate to catch his shows a couple times. Stevie Ray was a blues man, which means you had to see him live. Blues on any recording just does not match the power of being at a live show. I will say that again…you have not heard blues until you have seen a real master performing in person. There is an energy that can’t be explained only experienced.
He played at JB’s Theatre in Albany N.Y with his brother’s band The Fabulous Thunderbirds warming up. I waited outside in the rain for tickets and got in early and stood in the front row leaning against the stage. I was only inches away from the Wah Wah pedal duct-taped to the stage…I knew the stories…This was Jimi Hendrix’s Wah Wah pedal!!! Jimi’s pedal and it was almost close enough to reach out and touch…but I could not break the sanctity and just remained awestruck. I was a bit disappointed that Stevie Ray was wearing a floppy “French-guy” hat instead of the cowboy hat he was known for. I would later learn of him fighting his demons of drugs and alcohol and seeking a more spiritual life. I don’t know at what stage in this battle I found him, I just know that losing this trademark part of his image meant something.
The thing I took away from the show was the complete dissociation from this world that took hold of him when he leaned back into a solo. I can see it now as I reflect on it…he was somewhere else. The fluid cascading waterfall of sound that happened when he leaned back was something. He really could care less if he was playing for 50,000 people or 20 people or no people at all, he was gone. He did get to his version of “Little Wing” which for me was the highlight. I never saw Jimi live….but I don’t think I would trade this moment away for it.

Happy Birthday “Killer”

Starting this wordpress site on rock music got me thinking about the timeline of rock music. You know the proverbial “where did it all start?”
I’m not going back to the “Crossroads” with Robert Johnson although I want to because blues is the foundation of so much great music. I am also not buying “Rock around the Clock” with Bill Haley and the Comets. That song is just a little too processed to be the beginning. 1957 and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” by the conflicted Wildman of Louisiana-Jerry Lee Lewis, born today in 1935-is where it all starts. The story is well known about the marriage to his 13 year old cousin that burned out his rise to fame very quickly. He was the first great character, kicking his chair across stage, playing piano with his feet. The “Killer” (that is his nickname) put on a show. The “Killer” is still putting on shows….he has outlived countless equally possessed souls who followed him down that path to stardom. From Buddy Holly to Lynyrd Skynyrd in plane crashes. Overdoses of Jimi Hendrix to Amy Whinehouse. Suicides of Kurt Cobain and Michael Hutchence…the list of the fallen goes on and on (This blog plans to get to a lot of these).  Jerry Lee survives to celebrate his 77th birthday and that says something about how the fire in your soul can keep you burning. “Great balls of fire” must keep you burning even longer…Rock on Jerry!