Guy plays Jimi
Local guitarist pays tribute to the greatest
By Chris Jay 01/19/2012
In the past few years, while original artists have struggled to bring crowds out to live performances, even in an artistically rich area like Ventura County, one novelty genre has surprisingly picked up steam and become a consistently solid draw: tribute bands.
Now, we’re not talking about your standard cover bands, we’re talking about grown men and women dressing up like a specific group and performing their material exclusively. Locally, we’ve seen some of our finest original players turn to tributes, often for fun, but also for decent money. Local musicians like Armand John Anthony, Tony Cicero, Robin Ryder, Jeff Hershey and Rick Hunter, to name just a few, often don wigs and pay homage to the likes of Black Sabbath and Kiss, and in the process make a larger payday than any of their original projects would. It also helps with out-of-town bookings. While an original band from Ventura may have little appeal to a club owner in another state, or county for that matter, fake Lynyrd Skynyrd does.
You can now add another local musician to the list of artists diving into the tribute world; but unlike other “tribs,” when Guy Martin brings his new show, “Guy Martin Plays the Music of Jimi Hendrix,” to the Ventura Theater this weekend, things will be slightly unorthodox, at least by tribute-band standards.
First, a note on Jimi Hendrix. There are two reasons you don’t see many Hendrix tributes. Clearly, one is the look. Jimi was extremely tall and African American with some Native American heritage. (His great, great grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee.) But much more important and harder to duplicate is his sheer talent. Hendrix was hands-down one of the greatest and most influential guitar players who ever lived — it takes a certain level of musicianship, therefore to take on a full set of Hendrix and do it any justice without flat-out embarrassing yourself.
Martin and his band, which features Tony Trigueiro on bass and Pete Gallagher on drums, will not be wearing wigs, head bands or flower-printed bell bottoms. They’ll be forgoing the look to focus solely on the music, playing all the classics but dipping deep into the Hendrix catalog as well for renditions of some of his more obscure and complicated songs.
Recently taking a break from playing out live, after a year-and-a-half-long Thursday night residency at the Watermark on Main’s W20 lounge, Martin and company began focusing on a long overdue, original release. His last record was Live at Café Voltaire, whose title alone reveals how long it’s been since the guitarist has had a proper release. Martin thought it was time to give an all-Hendrix show a try as his covers of Jimi were always extremely-well received, and he noticed a lack of anyone, at least locally, filling the void.
“It’s a tribute in name but there’s not gonna be any dressing up,” explains Martin. “We’re paying homage to someone I respect. But I’m throwing my twist on it. We have some amazing backup singers, some different interpretations. Definitely not mimicking. It’s something that should appeal to hard-core Hendrix fans as much as casual fans.”
If all goes well, Martin would like to take the show to different cities and venues such as the Canyon Club, which regularly features tribute acts, though launching from the Ventura Theater isn’t a bad start by any means. Does Martin realize that debuting a show in such a large place is a risky undertaking, especially during these days of audience disinterest?
It’s a simple answer, but it’s one that’s definitely in a style Jimi Hendrix would appreciate, even without a costume.
Guy Martin Plays the Music of Jimi Hendrix along with The Kronik Blues Band and Lee Koch, Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Ventura Theater. For more information and tickets, visit www.venturatheater.net.