The Jimi Hendrix tribute Purple Haze will fill the Red Room on Friday, its first appearance in the Crystal Bay Casino in nearly two years.
“We’re going to break out all the killer Hendrix tunes,” said Ralph Woodson, who portrays the musician who many agree was the greatest guitar player on the planet. “I’m sure, by now, they need a Hendrix fix. We’ll give them ‘Red House’ and all the greatest hits they want to hear.”
Purple Haze includes bass player Pete Roberts and drummer Leo Vigil.
Woodson is a veteran artist from Richmond in the East Bay Area who has played in rock, reggae, blues and jazz bands. He’s always fronted his own groups, but the Jimi Hendrix tribute has garnered the most attention.
A few years ago, he released a solo album, “Incredible Dreamer,” a fusion-styled record that featured Woodson’s superb musicianship and influence by Hendrix.
In March, Woodson released “Woodstock Gypsy,” which again reminds listeners of Hendrix. This album has more rock that its jazzy predecessor.
“It’s always a compliment when someone says it sounds like Jimi,” said Woodson, whose deep voice has an uncanny resemblance to Hendrix’s.
Woodson weeded down numerous original songs for the 11-track “Woodstock Gypsy.” He plays all the parts except for some drums and backing vocals by Manas Itiene. Psychedelic artwork is provided by Michael Dones. (To purchase, click LINK.)
“I wanted to pick the songs that made a complete message, so I tried to select the ones that all fit together,” Woodson said. “They are more straight-forward songs.”
The theme is a 1960s flashback with songs about drugs, “Weedology” and “Fun Time Pharmacy,” and love, “Dynamo,” plus one, “Lies and Jive,” which is a call-and-response that feels like it’s written and performed by Hendrix. “Do You Believe” is a song about a man’s well-publicized UFO experience, another nod to Hendrix’s esoteric followers.
The entire album is solid, but two songs stand out: “Me Again,” an upbeat blues by a doting and optimistic father and grandfather, and “Land of Machine Guns,” which combines lyrics about mass murders with a nursery rhyme chorus.
“Anybody can die, anytime, anywhere, just because somebody crazy or mad can just get a machine gun and take their frustration out,” Woodson said. “And it’s just another day, la-di-da. We pray, but it’s the gun we trust.”
The Hendrix tribute takes concertgoers on a joyful nostalgic journey, but there is plenty more to Woodson, a gifted storyteller and brilliant musician.
- Purple Haze
When: 10 p.m. Friday, July 29
Where: Crystal Bay Casino Red Room