Show Reviews

    Vernon Reids Band of Gypsys Revisited Band Live!

    165
    VRBOGRB
    Photo by Sam Simon

    This amazing band brings their Hendrix interpretive tribute to the Stone Church in Brattleboro VT on November 07 2019

    I had been looking forward to this for quite some time, but perhaps not as long as Vernon Reid. It appears that the Living Colour guitarist has had a life long obsession with Hendrix, and this current lineup is bringing his thoughts and feelings to the masses.

    In I think it was 1996 I went to Bumbershoot, which is a massive festival in downtown Seattle. The headliner that night was Reid hosting an all star Hendrix lineup that included hall of fame rock star guests in his all star band. I asked Reid about it backstage last night in Brattleboro and he remembered it fondly. “The rehearsal for that gig was really crazy, there were lots of Hendrix’ relatives there, and I tell ya, the Hendrix gene is strong. There were little kids who looked just like Jimi running around, I mean little Jimi’s!”

    The band is incredible: Biscuit on drums and vocals, Andre Lassalle on guitar and vocals, Jared Michael Nickerson on bass and backing vocals, and Vernon Reid on guitar and vocals. The first set was a hits selection playing Hendrix material from prior to the Band of Gypsys days. The second set was Band of Gypsys material. The band uses the songbook as a jumping off point, not feeling at all constricted into playing a direct tribute to Jimi Hendrix. “There are plenty of guys doing that, and doing it well,” Reid told me six months ago when we discussed this band.

    Each and every band member was an incredible musician and together they formed a band that is immaculate. For some reason they reminded me of Garaj Mahal- not at all the fusion and world melange of that precision band, just the way that every single member grabs your attention and deserves enormous praise for a life’s work that has made them a master of their instrument.

    Jared Michael Nickerson is rock solid on the bass. He was nattily dressed, too and it wasn’t slapping or intense funk that you may have expected from this Ohio native that was eye catching. His walks were great, the bass lines were all super appropriate and classy and highly evolved. And I dig anyone who matches their shoe color to their full ensemble. His gentle spirit shines through in his playing and his posture even.

    Biscuit on the drums and vocals is really something. He has a great singing voice, and takes control of the band and the attention of the audience whenever he wishes. His turns on Them Changes, his coda that felt totally original in Wind Cries Mary (a gospel treatment that seemed to be a great and total rewrite) all illustrate his unique talents. I’m a sucker for drummers who sing well and Biscuit definitely does. He dwarfed his drum set with both his physical playing and his super human personality that shines throughout the show.

    It truly says something about Vernon Reid that he has André Lassalle as his guitar partner. I know that the two of them go back some forty years or more to when they were teen agers playing guitar together in Brooklyn NY. It is much more than that- the chemisty is clear. But to have the confidence to bring out a player as strong and talented as Lassalle to be on the same instrument as the band leader takes, well- balls. Lassalle is creative and masculine in his playing- he can fly on the fretboard and finesse it like a fine craftsman- whichever he chooses. My guitar playing buddy was enthralled with his equipment and they chatted about it after the show. Lassalle, like the other band members, has such an affable presence that you can’t help but love him. You forget how good he is, and then BAM! he is literally illustrating that he is one of the best you’ve ever seen right in front of your face. It was a pleasure to see this man play.

    And this leaves us with Vernon Reid whose stature as a player is well known. Mixing elements of the blues, rock, hard rock and even metal all within the context of his Hendrix obsession was a joy to watch. He in no way felt like someone trying to clone or imitate Hendrix at all. It was simply a love affair, Reid using his formidable talent to show us all what can still be done with this music, nearly fifty years after Hendrix left us. The band re-interpreted the songs so thoroughly that they took on whole new meanings.

    It was akin to a total rebuild. I felt as if it was Hendrix doing a tribute to Miles Davis, or equally Davis doing a tribute to Hendrix. Whenever they wished they reference the songs reverentially, and when they wished they completed departed. It was truly a lesson in so many things- the Hendrix song book, musicianship, interpretation, the unique quality and joy of a rock band- all in one package delivered with expert attention to detail.

    The Stone Church was the perfect venue was for this show. The band was effusive, noting how much the spirit, the vibe of the place contributed to their performance. The sound was excellent, and the crowd soaked it up like they wouldn’t ever stop listening.

    If you are in proximity to this show happening- RUN, I mean it, do not walk, RUN to see this band.

    Full show audio, use the arrows to toggle between songs.

    SET ONE:

    Are you Experienced?

    The Wind Cries Mary

    Burning of the Midnight Lamp

    Crosstown Traffic

    Little Wing

    Purple Haze (with Bouree references)

    SET TWO

    Who Knows?

    Power of Soul

    Message of Love

    Them Changes

    Machine Gun

    encore: Red House

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