CULTURE

Legend re-experienced at tribute

It’s hard to imagine, but were he still alive, the freak rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix would have now been an aging man, probably salt-and-pepper haired and, presumably, a milder player without the aggressive guitar-burning-and-breaking antics that often overwhelmed the artist on stage during his heyday. Like all legendary figures who suffered premature deaths, the revolutionary musician, who expanded the vocabulary of electric rock guitar like no other, before and after his time, has remained eternally young. Hendrix’s musical legacy, too, has remained fresh and vital for numerous musicians in the rock, jazz and blues fields, despite the artist’s death nearly 33 years ago. In remembrance of the man in what would have been his 60th birthday year, a Hendrix tribute, dubbed «Yes, I Am Experienced,» featuring local and imported blues-rock talent, has been organized for tomorrow night in Athens (Ark, 18 Themidos, Tavros – doors open at 8.30 p.m.). The bill includes American guitarist Eric Sardinas, a modern-day guitar virtuoso, Blues Wire, a fiery Thessaloniki-based act widely considered to be the country’s finest blues bands, and, according to some, one of the European continent’s best, as well as other local opening acts. Needless to say, the impact of Hendrix’s playing during his brief four-year reign as a superstar redefined the sonic horizons of the electric guitar. Much rumor and speculation has surrounded Hendrix’s life and possible future musical course since his premature death of drug-related complications in London almost 33 years ago. Some critics claimed that the freewheeling and aggressive guitarist was set to enter the jazz field; others believed that he was intending to dig deeper into the blues; many contended that Hendrix would continue along the same track, while some considered the self-destructive artist to be too confused for a clear picture of where he stood. Hendrix had been working on a new album, tentatively titled «First Ray of the New Rising Sun,» when he died on September 18, 1970. He left behind abundant unreleased material, recorded both in the studio and live, that was eventually released posthumously. Many of these releases, however, proved controversial for fans after a producer, Alan Douglas, took control of these projects in the mid-1970s and intervened on Hendrix’s final results. Despite the man’s wayward antics, Hendrix was known to be a meticulous worker of fine detail in the studio. After a lengthy legal dispute, the rights to Hendrix’s estate, including his recordings, were returned to the late musician’s father, Al Hendrix, in 1995. He hired Hendrix’s original engineer, Eddie Kramer, to coordinate the remastering process of earlier recordings after all the original master tapes were found. This led to rereleases of Hendrix’s first three albums in 1997, all with significantly improved sound quality. Returning to tomorrow’s Hendrix tribute, the evening will headline Sardinas, a contemporary blues-rock guitarist wizard. He closely studied early blues greats such as Charley Patton and Muddy Waters, whom he cites as influences, but plays a more modern-sounding form of blues. Like many of the old blues figures, Sardinas played on the street for a living early on. He formed the Eric Sardinas Project in the early 1990s, and, after about six years of performing about 300 shows annually, record industry officials took note. Sardinas released his debut album, «Treat Me Right,» in 1999, and followed it up with «Devil’s Train» two years ago. The tribute’s top-ranked Greek act, Blues Wire, has averaged some 200 shows a year since emerging from Thessaloniki in 1983. Besides offering electrifying shows of their own, both in Greece and around Europe, Blues Wire have, on occasions, collaborated with leading foreign blues acts, among them John Hammond, Big Time Sarah, and Louisiana Red.