ZZ Top’s current setlist includes nods to Jimi Hendrix and Muddy Waters

1A. Hendrix.Sidewalks-1968

Jimi with Billy’s old band, the Moving Sidewalks. Elizabeth Avedon photo.

Guitar legend Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top e-mailed me a few days ago and–among other things–replied to a question put forth by Nanaimo blues-rocker David Gogo, who wanted to know what Gibbons thought Jimi Hendrix would be up to if he was still around.

Gibbons replied: “Jimi is still around!”, then went on to claim that if the legendary Stratman were back down here on Earth he’d have a good shot at being ZZ Top’s fourth member.

As it turns out, on the tour that hits Vancouver tomorrow, the Top is doing the best it can to make the presence of Hendrix felt when it hits the stage. As well as its biggest hits like “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Gimme All Your Lovin'”–and three tracks from its latest album, 2012’s Rick Rubin-produced La Futura–the trio is including Hendrix’s 1967 smash hit “Foxy Lady” in its current setlist. (You may recall that Gibbons joined Jeff Beck, the world’s greatest living rock guitarist, for a version of that tune at the 25th anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert back in 2009. Oops, sorry. I meant Rock and Roll Hall of Lame.)

It might also be interesting to hear what bluesy depths Gibbons plunges to to conjure up “Catfish Blues”, the traditional number from the 1940s that Muddy Waters worked into his single “Rollin’ Stone”, which some band I can’t remember right now took its name from.

Hey, let’s face it: the members of “the Lil Old Band from Texas” are all 64 now, so you can’t expect them to be kickin’ it like that time I saw them on the Fandango! tour in Vancouver in the mid-70s. But if you’ve never seen them before, now might be the time. There’s no guarantee they’ll be passing this way again–with the spirit of Jimi Hendrix or not.

And if you’re concerned that the oldsters won’t have enough energy on display to warrant heading out on a Saturday night, get there early enough to hear the next generation of bluesy rock in the guise of Toronto’s Flash Lightnin’. I interviewed them once. They should get things hoppin’.

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