2017 Experience Hendrix Tour – Northern Quest Casino, Airway Heights (Spokane), WA
Review and Photos by thenaturalstoner
Last night, The Slurry Baron, my fiancée, and I trekked up to Spokane, Washington to see the 2017 iteration of the Experience Hendrix tour at the Northern Quest Casino. In its second year, this tour brings in all kinds of guitarists from different genres to pay respects to one of the Greatest of All Time, Jimi Hendrix. This years lineup was pretty unique, so the Baron and I hopped online, scored our front row tickets, and decided to rock out with our lineup of Dweezil Zappa, Billy Cox (the last survivor from the Band of Gypsys), Buddy Guy, Zakk Wylde, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Jonny Lang, Keb’ Mo’, Chris Layton (drummer from Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble), Mato Nanji (from Indigenous), Noah Hunt (singer from Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band), singer/MC Henri Brown, The Slide Brothers, Scott Nelson (bassist from Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band), and Tim Austin (drummer from Buddy Guy’s Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues Band).
I came into the show pretty much only to see Dweezil. While there are certainly other good names on the lineup, Frank Zappa is my guy, and I have always wanted to see Dweezil perform. Although this was not a “Dweezil Zappa Plays Whatever the Fuck He Wants” show, finally seeing him rip the guitar (from the front row no less) in person was a definite bucket list moment.
I was surprised with how long this show was. 3 hours over two sets, with only a small setbreak in between. The rotating artists each got a ‘couple-to-a-few’ songs each, and then rotated in occasionally throughout. Like I said earlier I was there to see Dweezil, so when the show started and the trio of Dweezil, Billy Cox, and Stevie Ray Vaughan drummer Chris Layton came on stage to open with “Freedom”, I was pumped. It didn’t hurt that Dweezil picked one of the five microphones closest to me and my gang to stand and rock in front of.
Mato Nanji would be the next guitarist to come on stage, and was one of the big surprises of the night for me. This dude can rip Jimi! Mato probably played the most songs out there all night, except for Layton (while he did a fine job, he was fairly stoic during the show) and the bassist from Kenny Wayne Shepherds band who were pretty much the house band. The Slide Brothers and Henri Brown then came out, obviously bringing more of a blusier side to the set.
I finally got to see Keb’ Mo’ perform, an artist I have been interested in for almost 20 years, and I didn’t realize how good of a guitarist he was. He held his own up there with The Slide Brothers, I was surprised. After a few songs everyone left the stage and Zakk Wylde came out and did some solo stuff that was loud and awesome. His portion of the show was my favorite part of the evening, quite a bit to my surprise. His “Manic Depression” was killer, as was “Little Wing” – the clear highlight of the show. Wylde owned an extended version of this jam, including going out into the crowd to play most of his solos. This was pretty much the only time all night anyone went deep into the crowd. After Wyldes main portion of the show we got a quick setbreak to catch our breath and take a leak!
I was surprised this was a two-set show. Frankly, I thought we would get ninety minutes and out, so set two was pretty neat. Jonny Lang opened the second set, with Layton and Scott Nelson still the primary rhythm section, and would eventually be joined again by Wylde and Nanji. Jonny was fine, but not necessarily my cup of tea on this night. The Spokane crowd seemed to enjoy it fine. Kenny Wayne Shepherd finally came out and was awesome on the guitar. I had no idea Kenny could pull off such a Jimi, he played him well. After several songs out there, Shepherds rendition of “Voodoo Chile” reverberated throughout this little casino in Spokane.
Billy Cox came out one more time to help close out the show, which ended with Chicago legend Buddy Guy finally coming out to perform. At 80 years old, Buddy can (unexpectedly) still hit those notes! We got a few songs with Buddy, including a lengthy “Red House”, again with Mato Nanji, that was really fun.
After three plus hours the show finally ended with multiple group bows on stage and the Spokane crowd on their feet. This show exceeded my expectations… I finally got to see Dweezil and Keb’ Mo’, it was cool seeing some living legends in Cox, Guy, and Layton, and I got a greater appreciation for Wylde, Shepherd, and Nanji on guitar.
FYI if you are going, next to the primary merch table is a table where Billy Cox does a meet and greet and you can get stuff signed for $20 before, after, and during the show.
Would go again!