A blues anniversary

Thirty-nine years ago last night, Jimi Hendrix died in a London, England, apartment. He was 27 years old. Halifax bluesman Roger Howse honored the anniversary with an all-Hendrix third set at Bearly’s House of Blues & Ribs on Barrington Street. Contrarian friend Richard Stephenson writes:

Roger Howse 3CA fixture at Bearly’s over the last decade, the Roger Howse Band draws praise for the power of its music and the precision of Roger’s guitar work. About 12:30 this morning, following a longer than usual break, the band returned to the stage and, without fanfare, charged headlong into a ninety-minute set featuring nine Hendrix songs. The hand-written play list, now in my possession, included:

  • Stone Free
  • Drivin’ South
  • Little Wing
  • Hey Joe
  • Villa Nova Junction
  • Red House
  • Killin’ Floor
  • Voodoo Chile
  • All Along the Watchtower (encore)

The band played with energy and confidence, wasting no time between songs. The music was loud and hard-edged, the guitar work passionate and accurate. Howse attracts a knowledgeable audience, and last night’s crowd, aware of the evening’s significance, listened intently, cheering the end of each song and the opening chords of the next.

jimi-hendrix-3aCBearly’s staffers Megan McMullin, Dan Falvi, and Mimi Andriopoulos, who have seen just about everything, understood the importance of the night. Younger members of the audience pressed forward onto the dance floor in wonder at the avalanche of sound. Time flew away and we all felt the joy of hearing Hendrix again.

“I have been influenced by all of the great blues guitar players,” Roger told the crowd. “By Robert Johnson, Albert King, B.B.King, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, and Roy Buchanan. But the man who had the biggest impact on me was Jimi Hendrix.”

I suspect there were small gatherings of fans all around the world last night, listening to his recordings and raising glasses to his memory. I doubt, however, that anyone felt closer to the spirit of the genius than the patrons at Bearly’s early this morning. We have blues guitarist Roger Howse, bassist Morrow Scott Brown, and drummer Steve Tomarelli to thank for this special occasion.

Saturday,  September 18, 2010, will be the 40th anniversary of Hendrix’s death. Perhaps the Roger Howse Band will play one more tribute to the greatest guitar player in the history of rock and roll. Thank you, Roger!