Tag Archives: Jimi Hendrix

A Prodigious Talent – The Blues of Gary Clark Jr.

7 May

I first heard of Gary Clark Jr. when he released his second EP Bright Lights back in the summer of 2011. It caught my ears and I immediately picked it up and shoved it onto my iPod as quickly as possible. He was a musical force to be reckoned with and it wasn’t difficult to recognize that. Since then, Gary Clark Jr. has done exactly what you would expect a blues wunderkind to do – tour festivals extensively and play with some of the greatest blues performers ever. Not a bad idea at all.

Gary Clark Jr. fits into a small grouping of modern-day blues guitar prodigies. Let’s add Derek Trucks, Doyle Bramhall II, Joe Bonamassa to this list as well. If we wanted to forget about age barriers let’s add Warren Haynes to that, for, while he is not young (well, I mean, neither is Bramhall), he still tirelessly performs today (and he is incredible and he was a prodigy). Interestingly, Gary Clark Jr. reminds me a little of Warren Haynes. Why? Well, the man is a triple threat. He can play rhythm and lead, sing wonderfully, and knows how to take a backseat to other performers on stage (an important trait to possess).

But do you know who Gary Clark Jr. reminds me of the most? His guitar tone is saturated with rich distortion and hooky riffs and rhythms much in the manner of Jimi Hendrix, another guitar prodigy, who just understood how to make the guitar sing. Now, please, in no way am I saying that he is equitable to one of the greatest guitar players to ever pick up the instrument. I am just saying that his style reminds me of Hendrix. And, actually, if Hendrix stayed alive, I think he would have moved into a realm that Gary Clark Jr. is beginning to explore – sticky, humid blues with creative distortion and grunty vocals.

“Bright Lights,” the song that represents this exploration, was featured by the NFL for the 2012 draft. It was a good choice because the song does talk of “Bright Lights” and since the draft was at Radio City Music Hall in NYC the selection was intelligent. It also reminded me of Gary Clark Jr. and I went on a bit of a listening binge – mostly live performances though because he just doesn’t have enough songs yet.

The next few years are going to be crucial. “Bright Lights” seems to suggest that Gary Clark Jr. may be able to do something that not many have been able to accomplish in the last 40 years, bring blues music into the tempting arms of popular pop music while maintaining the gritty roots of the song. “Bright Lights” does this perfectly. Check out this performance of the song from the Crossroads Festival in 2010. By the way, that is Bramhall II in the yellow shirt providing some extra lead depth.

The song is, as Steven Tyler would say, “crazy good.” The hard-hitting rhythm, heavy on the downbeat, mixes with Gary Clark Jr.’s soulful vocal that, if it wasn’t for his guitar skill, would be his strongest attribute. The song levels out for a while with this pounding riff and the bluesy vocals, but, it doesn’t last that way for long. The guitar of Gary Clark Jr. cannot be contained for long. His lead work is insane! The skill he expresses in his ability to command the guitar like it his voice and not his instrument is extraordinary. It is extraordinary in every sense of that word. Not many guitarists can even smell that talent. The tone is scary. When I first heard this song I dropped everything I was doing and stared, just stared. Check out the echo of his guitar around 3:30 – 4:00 into the song. Like, seriously! You actually feel the guitar may explode, he is so proficient.

Can he do traditional electric blues?

Check. Did you think he would have any problems with this? The wa-wa solo around 1:45 is a thing of beauty. It is eccentric, even alien, but that is what he can do. He takes what you expect from blues and manipulates it with his quick playing and distortion effects.

He is super talented and well-known right now. Wait a year or two and a widely-released LP and he will be known across America like Derek Trucks.

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An Unfortunate Anniversary – Jimi Hendrix and What Killed Him?

20 Sep

Johnny Allen Hendrix (otherwise known as James (Jimi) Marshall Hendrix) was born in Seattle in November of 1942, thereby founding the “Live in Seattle if you Want to Be a Talented Musician” act. Seattle, where it rains so much the only thing to do is play music.

Hendrix has practically become another name for guitar. His effortless skill, dripping passion, and innovative creativity for the six-stringed sound-producer has elevated him to the status of legendary in the eyes of practically all who have ever listened to a G-chord once in their lives. If one took the average top five of every “Best Guitarist” poll created in the past 50 years, Hendrix would not only be in the top five, but also he’d probably be first. Now we can sit here and debate whether Hendrix’s short spurt of talent makes him better than guitar gods like Clapton, Allman, King, Vaughan, etc., but that debate is pretty much endless. Simply, they are all great guitarists, and Hendrix, despite only living to 27 years old, is with the group.

On Sept. 18, 1970, 41 years ago, Jimi Hendrix died in London. I know I am two days late on the anniversary, but since Tuesdays are now reserved for music news (when interesting), I thought I would do my anniversary post today. Much mystery surrounds Hendrix’s death. The initial report is that he asphyxiated on his own vomit after consuming a copious amount of red wine, but John Bannister, the surgeon who treated Hendrix and made this claim, was accused by Monika Dannemann, Hendrix’s girlfriend at the time, of malpractice, and was reprimanded for two counts of medical malpractice, and struck off the medical register for fraud in 1992. Apparently, according to reports, Hendrix had little alcohol in his system. Dannermann’s account of the night, though, have changed from interview to interview and she committed suicide shortly after being found guilty of contempt of court for repeating a libel against Kathy Etchingham, another of Hendrix’s girlfriends in the 60s.

A recent book released by a former Animals’ roadie named James “Tappy” Wright claimed that Hendrix was murdered because he wanted to end his management contract, but this report was repudiated by Bob Levine, Wright’s long term business associate and Mike Jeffery’s (Hendrix’s manager at the time) assistant manager in New York. Levine said that Wright made up these stories to sell a book. In the book, Wright has commentary by John Bannister saying that is is plausible that Hendrix could have been murdered.

According to an article released in 2005 by The Sunday Times:

At some point early that morning he took nine Vesparax. In all likelihood he was under the impression that the pills were weaker than American pharmaceuticals and, desperately needing rest, took a handful. If he had intended to kill himself, as was later assumed, it was odd that he left 40 pills, more than enough to have assured an easy and virtually immediate death.”

“As it was, the nine pills he swallowed would have made him lose consciousness quickly. Some time during the early hours, the combination of the Vesparax, the alcohol in his system and the other drugs he’d used that night caused Jimi to heave up the contents of his stomach. What he brought up — mostly wine and undigested food — was then aspirated into his lungs, causing him to stop breathing.”

The death may forever remain a mystery. Conflicting reports make a true reason-of-death out of reach. A conservative guess would be that the report above is true, but, where there is mystery, there will always be speculation. And where there is speculation, there will always be conspiracy theories. The best guess is your own produced from unbiased sources. But, as the article above concludes, despite everything, Hendrix was still dead on the morning of Sept. 18 and the world mourned.

Here is Hendrix performing “Red House” at Royal Albert Hall in London on Feb. 24, 1969.

Trivia Answers For the Weary

20 Aug

Give this man some answers! Just to be clear, I did manipulate this cartoon, but all the credit obviously goes to the creator who is listed on the side of the cartoon. Still, this suited dude really does want answers, and how can I possibly say no to the desert businessman? Well, I can’t. How about some answers?

Wait! You have not tried your luck at the questions yet? No fear. Follow this link.

1.) In The Doors’ “Touch Me” Jim Morrison concludes the instrumental at the end with these three words. What are they? And, because this is the easy question, I will provide an audio clue.

“Stronger than dirt.” Yes, that is what Jim Morrison utters at the end of “Touch Me.” But why did Morrison mumble the AJAX advertisement slogan in the song. Were they paid to do it? The Doors, brought to you by AJAX, where you can just touch the dirt right off the shirt. Does Morrison sound like a guy who would have allowed his music to slip into the hands of advertisers? Absolutely, not. Morrison says “Stronger than Dirt” to express his disappointment with his other band members, who apparently were considering an offer from Buick for the use of “Light My Fire” in a commercial. Obviously, Morrison did not approve of this money-making scheme and it fell through. And, because of it all, we get this nice easter egg for trivia questions to be formed around! Every answer choice got a vote, which means that I am doing my job well, and that somebody thought he said “Robbie’s a Jerk” which is kind of funny.

2.) Woodstock, baby. That Jimi Hendrix finish was mind-boggling. But, man, who was the act that went on right before him. Uhh…?

This is one of those questions where you think you should know the answer, but then you realize you have absolutely no clue. The weird thing about this festival was the times when acts went on. Unlike regimented music festivals today, the concert didn’t stop at a reasonable hour. It just went on and on and on. Crosby Still & Nash played at 3:00 a.m., the morning of the last day. The band that opened for Hendrix went on at 7:30 a.m. Hendrix closed the show at 10 a.m., and gave his famous performance to a tired, muddy and dispersed crowd. Who was the band that opened for Hendrix?

Excuse me? The greasers with the corny dance moves? This must be a joke? No, as people woke up after their short power naps, they saw Sha Na Na on stage. I’m sure members of the audience thought that they took the “bad” acid. Sha Na Na performed, and, if it was a doo wop show, it would’ve been looked at as a solid and fun performance. And then it would have been forgotten. But it was WOODSTOCK. Their performance sparked a saying though. He/She was as out of place as Sha Na Na at Woodstock. That pretty much says it all.

3.) Now comes the HARD question. Let’s see if I can stump you guys. Simon and Garfunkel’s “The 59th Street Bridge Song,” otherwise known as “Feelin’ Groovy” was recorded in August of 1966 with what famous Jazz drummer behind the drum kit in the studio?

I’ll admit it, this question was tough. Like damn near impossible. Unless you are familiar with Jazz drummers or the studio recordings of Simon and Garfunkel songs, then this question was not going to yield an educated guess. The answer, though, is Joe Morello. And, here is a drum solo.

The Glorious Return of The Music Trivia

17 Aug

Was this really done, or did somebody photoshop that into the NOW That’s What I Call Music background? That picture really projects. It better be one hell of a music quiz. Well, do you know who does have one hell of a music quiz…because I’m actually looking for some questions, just kidding! While the first installments of Music Trivia went worse than expected, I thought that I would bring it back this Wednesday just for kicks. I get a lot of enjoyment in compiling and administering our little version of Trivial Pursuit, supposing we were only answering pink questions and those questions were only the music side of entertainment. Damn, if that was the case, I feel like I would do very well at Trivial Pursuit.

Now that Trivial Pursuit is in our minds, let’s use its new format for our questions today. I will ask three questions at different difficulties…easy, medium, and hard.

Remember – This hasn’t worked at all, but, after you answer the questions in the poll, POST your answers as a comment. I want to know if you got all three correct. If you did, you get the special prize of R-E-S-P-E-C-T and it means a lot. Let’s get to it.

1.) In The Doors’ “Touch Me” Jim Morrison concludes the instrumental at the end with these three words. What are they? And, because this is the easy question, I will provide an audio clue.

VIDEO:

2.) Woodstock, baby. That Jimi Hendrix finish was mind-boggling. But, man, who was the act that went on right before him. Uhh…?

3.) Now comes the HARD question. Let’s see if I can stump you guys. Simon and Garfunkel’s “The 59th Street Bridge Song,” otherwise known as “Feelin’ Groovy” was recorded in August of 1966 with what famous Jazz drummer behind the drum kit in the studio?

Good luck everyone and remember to write a comment with your answers!

March Madness Results – Top 1967 Album: Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

16 Apr

We have a winner! The tournament’s #1 seed Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band was not denied, and unlike my incorrect pick of #1 seed Duke in the 2011 March Madness tournament, Sgt. Peppers brought it home. Am I surprised by the results? No. Despite the list of 16 fantastic albums, Sgt. Peppers was arguably the best. It beat #3 seed Are You Experienced by Jimi Hendrix by only three votes. It was close, but so was the Duke vs. Arizona game, that ultimately led to Duke’s demise.

Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band is widely considered as not only the Beatles‘ best album, but also the greatest album of the rock n’ roll era. The album was preceded by Revolver and it demonstrates musical elements that the Beatles were exploring in Revolver, like electronic sampling and creative instrumentation. Elements of Revolver were heard more in Magical Mystery Tour (a combination LP) and the culmination of the Beatles’ psychedelic experimentation resulted in the concept album that was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

An album is obviously defined by its track listing. A concept album is also defined by its order. The album’s first song, “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band,” is an invite into the magical world of the Beatles. The song sounds like the opening of a Broadway play. It is a tremendous concoction of melody, studio sounds, brass and rock. The song also seamlessly flows into track two, “With a Little Help From My Friends,” a traditional pop/rock Beatles’ hit. While Sgt. Peppers flows as a concept album, the music pieces psychedelic elements with the Beatles’ rock sound, but the psychedelic trinkets are more defined in some songs than others. It is this pleasant combination, mixed with the band’s unique efficiency, that makes Sgt. Peppers so successful.

Best song off the album? Is there any question. “A Day in the Life” provides listeners with one of the most original psychedelic pieces ever created. The song combines drawn-out verses and strange lyrics, with a fast-paced day breakdown and two of the most intense transitions ever heard in music. It is the David of rock music. Enjoy.


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