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Archive for November 14th, 2013

Review: The Jimi Hendrix Experience, “Miami Pop Festival”

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Jimi Hendrix - Miami PopBy the time Jimi Hendrix took the stage at Hallandale, Florida’s Gulfstream Park on May 18, 1968, the 25-year old guitarist, songwriter and visionary’s reputation preceded him.  He had already released two studio albums (1967’s Are You Experienced and Axis: Bold as Love released in 1967 in the U.K. and 1968 in the U.S.) and established himself as an unpredictable performer not to be missed when he set his guitar ablaze amidst the peace and love of the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967.  With Jimi Hendrix, there was always fire – if not literally, always musically.  Legacy Recordings and Experience Hendrix have recently released The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s full evening set at the first Miami Pop Festival of 1968 on a new live album simply entitled Miami Pop Festival (88883 76992 2).  This release marks the first time this brief but exhilarating concert has been commercially issued.

There were actually two Miami Pop Festivals that year.  Hendrix joined Frank Zappa and his Mothers of Invention, Blue Cheer, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and others for the May festival promoted by Flipper trainer Ric O’Barry and future Woodstock guru Michael Lang.  In late December, promoters Tom Rounds and Mel Lawrence held another fest at the same venue, enlisting artists including Procol Harum, The Turtles, Jose Feliciano, Country Joe and the Fish, and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.  The May event welcomed an estimated 50,000 people, and inspired Hendrix to pen “Rainy Day, Dream Away” (included on Electric Ladyland, released in September 1968) when his planned performance on the second day was cancelled due to inclement weather. Lang, proprietor of a Miami head shop that was one of the first such establishments on the East Coast, dubbed the event as “where the seeds of Woodstock were sown.”

Although The Experience – Hendrix, drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding – performed both evening and afternoon sets at Gulfstream Park, Miami Pop Festival presents only the evening show in full, with the afternoon performance represented by two songs.  The disc, produced by Janie Hendrix, Eddie Kramer and John McDermott, opens with two minutes of introductions, feedback and tuning up.  Hendrix jokes, “And now I’d like to do our second song of the evening” before launching into a blistering “Hey Joe.”  From the first notes, it’s clear that the stage is where Hendrix truly came alive.  The expectations of the audience, and connection with it, drove him to greater and greater heights with each gig.  That said, Miami Pop isn’t a surprising set; he relies largely on material from Are You Experienced and completely overlooks the more recent Axis.  (“Foxey Lady,” “Fire” and “I Don’t Live Today” were all on AYU, with “Purple Haze” on the U.S. version and “Red House” on the U.K. release.)  But it’s a worthwhile and vibrant performance all the same.

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Written by Joe Marchese

November 14, 2013 at 09:45

Posted in Jimi Hendrix, News, Reviews

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