When I first saw the lineup for the Experience Hendrix show at the Charleston Gaillard Center, I had to look twice. Buddy Guy, Dweezil Zappa, Keb Mo — on the same stage? It was almost too good to be true.
Then again, if you’re going to pay tribute to a rock god like Jimi Hendrix, you don’t invite just anybody along.
The Experience Hendrix Tour has been traveling the country for more than a decade with a rotating cast of decorated musicians. The production’s last local performance in 2012 at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center featured steel guitarist Robert Randolph, guitarists Brad Whitford of Aerosmith and Eric Gales.
This year, new additions include Grammy Award-winning blues artist Keb Mo; Zakk Wylde, who played lead guitar with Ozzy Osborne’s band for nearly two decades; and guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, who has collaborated with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton, among others.
Several players have returned to play the latest tour: guitarists Buddy Guy, Dweezil Zappa (Zappa Plays Zappa), Mato Nanji (Indigenous), Johnny Lang, drummer Chris Layton (Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble) and bassist Billy Cox, the sort of anchor of the group who is the only surviving member of both The Jimi Hendrix Experience and the Band of Gypsys.
Hendrix and Cox’s friendship go back more than 50 years, when the two served a short time together in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division in 1961. After Hendrix was honorably discharged, the Seattle native moved to Tennessee with Cox, and the two gigged in R&B bands across the so-called “Chitlin’ Circuit,” sometimes backing up acts like Little Richard and The Isley Brothers.
In the mid-1960s, Hendrix moved to England, where he quickly achieved worldwide fame for hits such as “Hey Joe,” “Purple Haze” and “The Wind Cries Mary.”
Cox reunited with Hendrix in the studio in 1969 and played a series of shows with him as the bassist of the Band of Gypsys, including the infamous Woodstock performance.
In September 1970, Hendrix died unexpectedly at the apex of his career, leaving a void in rock music that hundreds of guitarists have attempted to fill over the next few decades.
In that regard, the Experience Hendrix Tour is not just a tribute performance to Hendrix’s music but to the generation of musicians he inspired.
Many of those musicians, including Cox, paid tribute to the rock icon with a string of shows for the first time in California in 2004, which evolved into the nationwide touring act that it is today.
Dweezil Zappa, who often plays the music of his father, Frank Zappa, to keep his legacy alive, is playing the Experience Hendrix Tour for the third time. He said Hendrix was a major inspiration for him.
“My dad told me some great stories about playing with him,” he said. “There was an authentic expression of his personality in the music. And that rings true to every generation. He wasn’t following trends. His playing was soulful and exciting and surprising.”
The Experience Hendrix show starts at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Charleston Gaillard Center, 95 Calhoun St. Tickets are $64-$134, depending on seats. For more information, visit Gaillardcenter.com or call 843-242-3099.
When Darius Rucker released his sophomore album “Charleston, SC 1966,” the track that got the most attention was his chart-topping hit, “Come Back Song.”
But one of the songs Rucker said meant a lot to him was “Might Get Lucky,” which he co-wrote with one of his idols, Texas songwriter Radney Foster. He told “The Boot,” a Nashville publication, that “it’s an honor to have a Radney song on my record.”
The name of Rucker’s album even paid homage to Foster, whose debut album was titled “Del Rio, TX 1959.”
It seems Rucker isn’t the only Hootie & the Blowfish member with ties to Foster, though. This weekend, the band’s guitarist, Mark Bryan, will play an opening set for Foster’s performance at the Woolfe Street Playhouse.
The songwriter will play his mix of folk and Americana tunes that have influenced the country song-writing realm for decades. He’s written country hits such as “I’m In” and “Raining on Sunday,” which were recorded by Keith Urban. Today, he’s the host of CMT’s anthology series, “Crossroads.”
The local show is at 8 p.m. Friday at 34 Woolfe St. Tickets are $25 for general admission and $15 for students. For more information, go to woolfestreetplayhouse.com.