A couple of weeks ago my son along with my wife and I attended the Avila Beach Blues Festival. If you’ve not been to Avila Beach you’re missing out on a little gem just north of Pismo Beach. Anyway, it was a gorgeous, sunny California day. The audience faced the stage (naturally!) and behind the stage was the Pacific, a beautiful setting for an outdoor concert. This year’s concert was “Experience Hendrix” a tribute to Jimi Hendrix and it starred a stellar lineup including Steve Vai, Billy Cox, Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Los Lobos, Living Colour, Ernie Isley, Keb Mo, Slide Brothers, North Mississippi All Stars, Cafe R&B, Mato from Indigenous. Brad Witford from Aerosmith, and drummer Chris Layton of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s band Double Trouble. My son disappeared just after we arrived so after the first act I texted him to see where he was. He replied that he was seeing if he could meet some of the performers. You see, my son is a guitarist himself and will sometimes put in ten hours a day practicing so meeting pros is inspiring for him. After the first act Andrew called me and said, “Dad, stand up so I can see you! So I stood up and he came running over zigzagging through the crowd and boy was he excited. “Dad, I just met Jonny Lang (Grammy winner!) and he said I could come backstage if a parent came with me!” So I jumped up and ran after him all the way down to the gate. Shortly thereafter Jonny Lang escorted us not only backstage but onstage where we watched the entire rest of the show. To say that Andrew was thrilled would be an understatement. One member of the audience (Thanks, Terry Myers!)captured it on video. (See: http://www.youtube.com/user/TerryM1962#p/a/u/1/GFVW1I9ojdQ and: http://www.youtube.com/user/TerryM1962#p/a/u/2/6EXkzyzP_eg )
It’s one thing to see a concert from fifty yards away from the stage but it’s an entirely different experience to see it up close. I must say I was impressed, not only by the fantastic musicianship but by how gracious the musicians were to Andrew. In addition to having his photo taken with both Jonny Lang, Steve Vai and others they also gave him their autographs and as Steve Vai was exiting the stage he asked Andrew if he’d like his pick. (It’s already been framed along with the autographs, ticket stubs and backstage pass). Now you too can experience Hendrix again as Steve Vai and Living Colour perform “Foxy Lady” (courtesy of Terry Myers: http://www.youtube.com/user/TerryM1962#p/a/u/0/wFlznGM-RXE )
It was truly a day Andrew will never forget. Unfortunately I did forget something...my earplugs. Andrew was smart enough to bring his. Trust me, being just a few feet from the amps the music was loud enough to be heard just fine even with the ear plugs. Fortunately my hearing returned to normal the next day. Now, for your viewing and listening pleasure I present my son, Andrew performing the beautiful Mason Williams instrumental (which I first saw performed on the Smothers Brother’s TV show) Classical Gas...no ear protection necessary.
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