So there we were, Joe, Brock and myself, standing in the bar at the Uptown Theater. Waves of coolness radiated out from us in all directions. We were there to see the tour celebrating the music of Jimi Hendrix, performed by a multitude of various musicians. Joe was there as our resident music historian, Brock was the guitar guy and I was there mainly to soak up the ambiance and observe the crowd and report on my findings. It promised to be a good night. A couple of shots and a few beers to fully flesh out our hipness quotient, and we headed into our seats.
Good crowd on hand, the place looked to be sold out. Big variety in age ranges, from younger kids up to those who may have actually seen Jimi perform live. We had lower level seats, just under the overhang of the balcony. As a bonus, I had an aisle seat and I was right next to an area where the edge of a rug provided a good opportunity for people to trip as they walked by, so that was cool. More entertainment value for my concert buck!
As we were waiting for the show to begin, some hippie chick plunged into the seat in front of us. Wearing a tie dye shirt, bell bottoms, earth shoes and a fringed suede jacket, she looked like a throwback to the 60’s. She immediately turned around and engaged us in conversation.
“Hi, I’m Wanda, but call me Willow. Are you guys ready for a kick-ass time?”
We acknowledged that we were indeed ready. All three of us were staring in awe at her huge blonde afro. How in the world would we be able to see that stage through THAT?
She reached into her pocket and pulled out a baggie. “You guys want some magic mushrooms? I grew them myself.”
Joe and I waved off her offer, told her that we had already eaten. She laughed and ate a handful.
The concert was going to be a tribute to the music of Hendrix, with various musicians playing different songs. The stage was set up with 2 sets of drums, lots of amps, equipment and microphones. Right at 8:00, the lights went down and the first performers walked out. The drummer from Double Trouble (Stevie Ray Vaughn’s band) and Billy Cox, who actually played with Hendrix, were joined by Ernie Isley of the Isley Brothers to start off with ‘Stone Free’. Sounded good!
After a few songs, they finished up with ‘Manic Depression’ and were replaced by the band ‘Living Colour’, and they too were pretty good. Each grouping would play a few songs, then some or all of the line up would change. Pretty tight set up, never more than 30 seconds to a minute to complete the trade off in performers.
Eric Johnson came out and did a hot version of ‘House Burning Down’, then Susan Tedeschi joined him to sing ‘One Rainy Wish’. Man I love her voice! They then performed the song ‘Are You Experienced’ and the groove was strong throughout. Susan would come out several times throughout the night, either to sing backing vocals or to show off her own talent with a guitar. And that gal can rock!
Meanwhile, Wanda/Willow would periodically leap from her seat and dance in the aisle. Sort of reminded me of those inflated sock sculptures that you see blowing in front of tire stores. Arms flailing to the sky, then collapsing to the ground. Hard to concentrate on the music with her gyrating like that right next to us. Especially when the fringe from her jacket would lash the side of my head as she spun in circles. On one particular move I caught a glimpse of her eyes, and within them I saw pure craziness…
Next up was Jonny Lang and Bradley Whitford (Aerosmith) and they tore into ‘Let Me Stand Next To Your Fire’ and hoo boy, that got the crowd up on their feet. Just a scorching version, really tore it up! I looked over and both Brock and Joe were wildly playing air guitar, heads thrown back, trading off solos. Some fine fretwork was being displayed by both. It was the highlight of the night for me!
They were followed by Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and he just shredded his guitar. He played ‘I Don’t Live Today’, ‘Come One’ and a smoking version of ‘Voodoo Chile’ with Noah Hunt on vocals. Very impressive guitar work on that one.
Next up were the guys from Los Lobos who played ‘Can You See Me’ and ‘Little Wing’, nicely done.
Now for a blast from the past, Hubert Sumlin (guitar player for Howlin’ Wolf) came out and performed his song ‘Killing Floor’. How cool was that! I mean, the guy is close to 80 years old and he was still rocking!
Out comes Robert Randolph and some of his Family band and the three of them played ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘Them Changes’ on steel guitars. Very cool vibe. Lots of people dancing, funkiness permeated the entire theater.
2 hours into the show and here comes Joe Satriani to perform a tripping version of ‘Third Stone From The Sun’, one of my personal favorites. He even talked about how the song made him think of outer space and aliens, and then proceeded to play his guitar so it took us there with him!
My view of the stage was occasionally interrupted by the dance moves performed by Willow, by this time she was fully in the gravitational pull of her own personal world of planet psilocybin! I could sense that there was some unrest amongst the nearby crowd as she would occasionally veer off and fall into someone’s lap. But the dancing never stopped!
To close out the evening, Joe Satriani played a great version of Dylan’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’ which was basically taken over and remade by Hendrix. This song proved to be the undoing for Willow, for she had leapt up and ran to the stage at the first notes, arms in the air, still bopping with every move. I think her intent was to climb up on stage and join the band, so fervent was her desire to be part of the music. Unfortunately for Willow, the security crew had other ideas and the last we saw of her she was being pulled out of the theater by one tie dyed arm, and yes, she was still dancing. Ahh, I miss the 60’s…
Final song of the night was ‘Red House’ a real blues standard, and afterwards all of the musicians lined up on stage. All told there were 14 guitar players along with various bass players and drummers and singers. Even the roadies came out to take a well deserved bow, the show ran like clockwork and the final note rung out at 11:01, three hours after the start. A great time was had by all (except perhaps Willow) and the time flew by!
Submitted by your roving Woodstock reporter,
concert photos courtesy of Arlington Theatre | Santa Barbara, CA | March 4, 2010
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