Newcastle born and bred rocker, Grant Walmsley, best known as guitarist, songwriter and founding member of the Screaming Jets. His other musical endeavours include Agents of Peace and Freebird.
What drew you to becoming involved with Experience Jimi Hendrix this year?
This is my third year and it all came about through the very long time most of us have known each other for, (2 decades). Mark at Empire Touring was on a lot of our Screaming Jets tours through the early 90's so that was the seed, and I gotta say I love the genuine camaraderie which is always present at the shows.
What’s your ultimate Hendrix record and why?
Oh the first one is the bomb without doubt. I never realized till later just how much it was the whole band and the London thang which was the catalyst for Jimi to become HENDRIX the God! There is magic on that record!
What influence has Hendrix your own playing?
I think any blues rock guitarist who started playing in pubs has Hendrix in there DNA. I learned classical and then was obsessed with blues rock as a boy. I was totally into Johnny Winter and early ZZ, then SRV, which is how I found Hendrix. It wasn't later till I realized Billy Gibbon and Johnny Winter were very close to Jimi, and of course SRV and Jimmy Vaughn and the Hendrix Vox Wha! Man, not so much influenced by all that. It's more like an obsession! It still consumes me.I've gone from playing 1960s strats through vintage Marshall's and then vintage fender amps and Wha's. I think guys of my era, and before, are very Hendrix without knowing or trying. He just made it THE way!
In an era where more and more guitarists are becoming technically proficient at their instrument at an early age what do you think it is about Jimi Hendrix’s playing style that’s so enduring?
There's skill, there's thrill, there's originality, there's creativity and there's soul! Not many players have all five. Jimi owned it and he really started a lot of it too. He took the true and pure old blues to the 'stratosphere' and beyond (pun intended). We are lucky his time coincided with great studios, instruments, amps, effects, fashion and recording genius. What a mix for the right artist!
What tracks will you be playing and what was the process like of learning them?
I'm in my mid 40's now so its only now that I feel I'm old enough to do 'Red House', so that one, (and my ol mate Dave Leslie is gonna join me I believe). And also I'm playing 'I Don't live Today' which I just love . So blues rock!
Like any song I play, I need to feel that it’s right for me and then I go about learning it. And then I forget the original version I've learned and I start playing it a hell of a lot until I can make it real for me.
What artists on the bill are you looking forward to hearing tackle some Hendrix songs?
Steve Edmonds is a dear friend and he can just annihilate any Hendrix song. He is the master of effects too. Also, I love Kevin and Dai and Lezzo and Jack .And argh. C'mon that's not a fair question! I'm looking forward to seeing everyone.
What is your amp, pedal and guitar set up for the night?
I've just had serious RSI issues so I've been playing without a pick for a while now so that's completely different. I have been playing a lovely Cole Clarke Hollow Baby Strat for the past few years, (and it has the Hendrix style backward setup bridge pick up). That through an old 73' fender super twin, (rebuilt by amp super hero James Mud), which is 180 watts (I have to compete with Steve Edmonds and Dave Leslie for volume lol), and I'm digging using no pedals at all, just a Wha.
What can punters expect from Experience Hendrix this year?
It's funny it's unwritten that Kevin is the patriarch to us all so great respect there. We must not take guys like that for granted! You can expect our country's greatest players who have clocked up hundreds of years of experience to really play! I think that's genuinely special in itself.
THE EXPERIENCE JIMI HENDRIX CONCERT
FRIDAY 14 JUNE – THE PALMS AT CROWN, MELBOURNE
FRIDAY 5 JULY – FACTORY THEATRE, MARRICKVILLE SYDNEY
SATURDAY 6 JULY – THE CONCOURSE, CHATSWOOD SYDNEY
For more information go to empiretouring.com.au