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I recently was lucky enough to stumble across a video on Google Videos of the film of Jimi Hendrix live at Woodstock. It's great how a lot of old concert footage is now reaching a larger audience because of the Internet.
Given the chance to watch the guitar master at work I waited for the entire video to download, hit play and was in awe just like I expected to be. Although I haven't seen all that many clips of Hendrix playing, (not because they don't exist, just because I haven't had the time to watch them all yet) I've heard that this is considered by many to one of his most memorable performances despite a relatively new backing band and what some would consider aimless improvisation. This is the show with the infamous "Star Spangled Banner" performance and that alone makes it memorable enough for me to be interested. Although I'd heard the recordings I had not seen this performance and I wasn't disappointed.
Purely from a guitarist standpoint, this is a great performance with tons of improvisation and great guitar work. Maybe not his best work depending on who you talk to, but definitely some memorable performances. It can be a little hard to digest though as there are lengthy improvisations that aren't exactly song orientated. Then again, Hendrix was not your typical guitarist so what else would you expect. Pulling from blues primarily he created a sort of psychedelic, improvised experience that is more about expression than musicality. I think this is part of why I like his music so much and why I wish I could play guitar as well as him. It's as if the instrument had become a part of him. Great musicians speak through their instruments just as easily as we speak with our voices. We can yell, create sounds and speak our emotions with our voice without even thinking much, it just happens naturally. That is what I strive for as a guitarist, to be able to express myself through my instrument so perfectly that it is as easy as speaking to express emotions and whatever I am feeling... except through a very loud amplifier.
If you're a Hendrix fan, it's worth checking out the video if you haven't seen it already. Most die hard guitarists and fans will probably have seen it, but I still thought it was worth it to say how great a performance and film I think it is for those who haven't.
You can watch it on Google Videos here: Woodstock '69
I know the video on Google isn't the entire show as there were multiple releases of this footage. You can find the 2005 DVD which has more footage here from Amazon: Jimi Hendrix - Live at Woodstock
I'll definitely have to pick that up,when I have some money, to add to my growing collection of concert DVDs.