Despite his death in 1970, the influential reach of Jimi Hendrix spread internationally and continues to do so today. The eighth edition of the Experience Hendrix Tour celebrates his legacy by showcasing several generations of musicians performing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist's music to several generations of fans.
"He was such a master not only in playing but in arrangements and lyrics and being onstage," said Ana Popovic, who spoke on the phone shortly after her first of nine dates with the month-long tour. "There's only one Hendrix, then a whole lot of space and then all the other guitar players are counted."
She added, "His guitar playing was so ahead of its time that it's still an inspiration to all the guitar players. His ideas, riffs and solos were amazing at that time and still are."
Special to the Tribune Chronicle
Ana Popovic will be joined by Buddy Guy, Jonny Lang, Bootsy Collins, Dweezil Zappa and others when the Experience Hendrix Tour 2014 comes to the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park on Wednesday.
Popovic joins fellow guitarists Buddy Guy, Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Bootsy Collins, Dweezil Zappa, Eric Johnson, Doyle Bramhall II, Eric Gales and Mato Nanji along with a rhythm section that includes bassist Billy Cox who played with Hendrix and drummer Chris Layton (Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble) for the tour's Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park date.
"The unique thing about this show is there are such a variety of styles," she said. "There is no other event where these people would come together. It's just proof of how huge Hendrix was. He was equally inspirational for heavy metal guitar players, jazz guitar players, blues, rock ... This is the only guitarist that I can think of that unites all these styles in one room, and it was incredible to see that."
In regards to finally being a part of this annual event she said, "This was on my to do list for some years now because I've been playing Hendrix from time to time for a decade. I don't do a lot of covers in my set. When I do, I choose ones that really mean a lot to me and not just fill up the setlist."
WHAT: Experience Hendrix Tour 2014
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
WHERE: Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park, 10777 Northfield Road, Northfield
HOW MUCH: $82.50 and $65
Popovic grew up in Belgrade, Serbia (formerly Yugoslavia), in a household that featured her father and his friends having nightly jam sessions. That, as well as a large collection of blues and soul records, became her early music education.
"I remember watching Hendrix (videos) and being in awe and thinking this is the most beautiful way of making a living that I could possibly imagine. At that time in Serbia, it was way before I could even think about becoming a musician. But it was very natural. I didn't really think about it. Music was always in our home."
At 15, she picked up the guitar and a few years later started the band Hush, which put out one album and performed around Europe. After studying jazz guitar, she began a solo career that now encompasses eight albums that feature her fiery mix of blues, soul, funk and jazz.
Since her debut, Popovic's stature in the blues field has grown. Nearly all of her albums made it the Top 5 of the Billboard Blues Charts.
Last year, she appeared on the covers of "Vintage Guitar," "Guitar Player's Gear Guide" and "American Blues Scene." Her album, "Can You Stand The Heat," was a "Pick Of The Week" by USA Today and featured on NPR Music.
In 2012, Popovic moved to Memphis where she leads a four-piece band and uses the local talent in her other musical project, the power blues and funk act Mo' Better Love Big Band.
For American listeners, her association with Hendrix's music originated when she contributed the lesser known track, "Belly Button Window," to the 2000 tribute album, "Blue Haze: Songs of Jimi Hendrix."
She recorded and made a video for another obscure Hendrix tune, "Can You See Me," which she plans to include on her next release.
"I'm kind of a B-side person," she explained, but it goes deeper than that for her. "The lyrics are very important for me. When I choose songs and listen to stuff, lyrics are equally important, if not more, than the musical part.
"When you think about the lyrics, it's only Dylan and Hendrix as far as I'm concerned that could make art just by writing a few sentences.
Popovic will incorporate her recent cover song as well as a barnstorming version of "House Burning Down" during her Experience set.
To prepare for the Experience Hendrix Tour, Popovic listened to and watched a number of the iconic guitarist's shows on the internet.
"You get the prospect of him being onstage and almost being one with his instrument, and that specific energy that he had going with the trio is actually something that I'm searching for in my shows. If you asked me why I do what I do I search for that moment in the show where you are one with your instrument and your band and almost like lifted up from the stage. You don't see the audience. Anything else doesn't matter except for that tone and drumbeat.
"On a good night, it's something I find from time to time, and it's something that comes from watching Hendrix."