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Interview:
Experience Hendrix/Joe Satriani at the Fox Theatre, 5 Things to Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

» See more SOUND CHECK

Joe Satriani is one of rock's unquestioned guitar heroes in his own right. But even he knows how to bow to the masters.



Satriani has returned to the all-star Experience Hendrix tour this year for the first time since 2010. The guy who's toured with Mick Jagger and Deep Purple and is part of Chickenfoot in addition to his own releases is fronting a well-credentialed trio of first-call drummer Kenny Aronoff and King's X bassist dUg Pinnick, playing his Jimi Hendrix favorites and paying homage to one of his favorite artists and acknowledged influences.



It's a bit of a holiday from what he normally does, but Satriani, 62, figures that if you're going to play someone else's music, you might as well be the best...



Satriani says by phone that timing was just for him to make his return to the Experience Hendrix tour after almost a decade. "You generally jump on this when you've got a big, open space ahead of you. It can be very disrupting if you're trying to maintain your campaign for a new record or something like that. But I had done a full-on year for my last album (2018's 'What Happened Next') and was planning to stay home and write and record. Then I got a call from (Experience Hendrix) saying, 'We notice you're not doing anything. How would you like to do this?' I wasn't seeking it, but as soon as the offer came in I thought, 'This will be perfect. It's a break from the usual thing, and I had so much fun doing it back in 2010, why not?' So here I am."



Satriani says Hendrix "was and still is my main inspiration as a guitarist. I started playing electric guitar the day he died; I was at football practice, about to hit the field, and a teammate told they they'd heard this guy I liked, Jimi Hendrix, had died. I immediately quit the football team and over dinner that night announced to my family that I was going to become a musician -- which created quite the debate, as you can imagine. But I got the family support and I never looked back."



Of Hendrix's lasting influence, Satriani says that, "We have to point out he was just an incredible innovator as a technical musician, but it came off quite naturally, which is why non-musicians responded to it so well. It didn't sound methodical. He was one of those guys who was a virtuoso but you could not detect there was any practicing that had ever been done, even scale or method of any kind. It's like having a casual conversation with a friend. Everything's natural."



Part of the Experience Hendrix experience, Satriani notes, is that "there is a scramble for material. As soon as people start signing on to the tour everybody wants to know, 'Who's gonna play 'Purple Haze' or whatever. Everyone's good natured about it, but sometimes the main artist might sign on before they know who they're going to be playing with, so there's a lot of song-trading that goes on for months leading into the tour. But I kind of like what happens, and you have to be ready before showtime every night for changes. But everybody does their homework, so they can respond to new song requests."



In addition to the tour, Satriani will be releasing an album of recordings by his band the Squares, "Best of the Early 80's Demos, on April 5. The trio never signed a recording deal and broke up when Satriani went solo, while bassist Andy Milton passed away in 1999. Satriani is happy the music will have a chance to be heard, however. "We laid down some seriously good music....(but) we were out of step with what people were looking for back then. The music was actually really good and we were really something unique, in retrospect. Back then we thought we were failing, but now I realize there was nobody quite like us. I think everybody had been waiting for me to say, 'OK, let's do it.' And I finally got to the point where I wanted people to hear this music."



The Experience Hendrix Tour stops at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 23, at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Performers include Joe Satriani, Billy Cox (Jimi Hendrix Experience/Band Of Gypsys), Dave Mustaine (Megadeth), Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society/Ozzy Osbourne), Jonny Lang, Dweezil Zappa, Eric Johnson, Doyle Bramhall II, Chris Layton (Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble), Mato Nanji (Indigenous), the Slide Brothers, Henri Brown, Kevin McCormick, Taj Mahal and David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas (Los Lobos). $29.50 and up. 313-471-7000 or visit 313Presents.com.

Web Site: www.313Presents.com

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