Courtesy of Inside Warren
National recording artist Stanley Jordan is known for his incredible world-renowned guitar work. At this year’s Festival in the Borough in Washington, Sept. 16, 2023, he’ll be bringing something extra special: a show he created, “Stanley Plays Jimi.”
This is a tribute show, but it’s not pure imitation. Instead Jordan builds on Jimi’s legacy in a creative way. As Stanley explains it, “This is my fantasy Jimi Hendrix concert if Jimi were still alive and playing today. By re-imagining his music and channeling his persona I try to bring that fantasy to life.”
The 19th Annual Festival in the Borough in Downtown Washington, presented by the Washington Business Improvement District, is a family-friendly free event with something for everyone to do throughout the day, including free kids activities, vendors, food, a beer garden, and plenty of music on 3 stages!
At the center of the musical line-up is Jordan, portraying arguably the greatest rock guitarist of all time, Jimi Hendrix.
It may be surprising to some that Jordan would take on a project like this. After all, he is already a well-known guitarist with a signature style, four Grammy nominations, a cameo in a Blake Edwards film (Blind Date), and a host of TV appearances over a long career including Jimmy Fallon, David Letterman, Jay Leno and Johnny Carson to name a few. But Jordan explains, “I feel a strong connection to Jimi Hendrix because he was the first guitarist I emulated as a child. Out of love for Jimi and his music I feel a strong desire to try to keep his legacy alive.”
It may also be surprising that a rock legend like Hendrix, who died in 1970, would get so much love from a jazz legend like Jordan. Stanley’s 1985 album Magic Touch was #1 on Billboard’s jazz chart for 51 weeks, and Stanley has shared the stage or recorded with jazz artists such as Benny Carter, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Billy Cobham. But again, hearing it from Jordan, “I actually played rock and blues before I played jazz. In fact, Jimi’s constant searching for new sounds inspired me to move toward jazz in the first place.”
In recent years Stanley has performed with many artists in the rock and jam band worlds, including the Dave Matthews Band, Umphrey’s McGee, Moe. and more. Stanley says, “Returning to my rock roots has been an absolute joy artistically, and with this project I’m taking that to a new level.”
Another important aspect of the show is the embodiment of Jimi’s persona. Jordan actually steps onto the stage as Jimi Hendrix so there is a theatrical element to the show. The extra touch of portraying the Hendrix of today rather than yesterday keeps the show creative and fresh for both Jordan and the audience. It also makes the show more authentic in a certain sense, because a real Hendrix concert would have surprises and unexpected turns. “Stanley Jordan Plays Jimi” tries to re-create both the energy and the creativity of the real thing.
Stanley also adds a few original compositions to the setlist-fantasy songs that could have been written by Hendrix today, just to fill out the repertoire and to give shape to some of the new concepts Hendrix was developing. Remember-this is the Hendrix of today, not yesterday.
This year’s festival features 19 different acts. Capping the night portion of the event will be the high energy band, Philadelphia Funk Authority. Raquel & The Wildflowers is the opener on the Main Stage, followed by Cairo, and which also showcases the national touring act, Hi-Risers, and Blairstown native Gina Royale.
Among the other acts set to perform during the event are JerZgirls, Water Street, Toga Party, New Watchdog Blues Band, Jessica Koppinger and Lost Paradise, Heather Thompson, Tweed & The Sugar Daddies, Tommy Hyde, Walt Bibinger and Gregory McLoughlin.
And on the Scotty’s Stage capping the night there is Grateful Dead cover band Diamond Eye Jack.
The Festival in the Borough Weekend kicks off with a special performance by C3 Soul Revue, featuring Terry Thomas of Washington, on Friday Sept. 15 in Veteran’s Park from 6 to 8 p.m.
While there is some seating available, the WBID invites attendees to bring lawn chairs, and to enjoy a fun day outdoors with music in the air.
The festival is supported by a host of businesses. They include major sponsors Rossi Auto Group, Hunterdon Healthcare & Mid Jersey Orthopedics, Elizabethtown Gas, Stuber Insurance Agency, Builders General/Direct Millwork, PNC Bank, Visions Federal Credit Union, and Buttzville Brewing. Key sponsors also include Scotty’s Stadium Club, First Energy Foundation, The Meat Shoppe by Arctic Foods, Fred Beans Auto, Swift Print, Hairmazing, Get A Grip & More, New Jersey American Water, Good Impressions Print Communications, and Kennedy Events Services. Friday night’s kickoff event is sponsored by WRNJ Radio and New Jersey School of Woodwork. The festival is also made possible through funding from the Warren County Cultural and Heritage Division of Land Preservation, a partner of the New Jersey State Council of the Arts.
For more details about Festival in the Borough go to www.washingtonbid.org. The Festival in the Borough is also on Facebook.