News Column

Eli Cook plays Jimi Hendrix at the State Theatre

November 29, 2013


Nov. 29--Experience the musical brilliance of Jimi Hendrix Saturday night at the State Theatre at a live tribute show by Charlottesville blues man Eli Cook. The 8 p.m. performance will feature classic Hendrix hits and a full band behind Cook, a talented guitarist who's been playing half his life.

Hendrix is more blues than Rock 'N' Roll, said 27-year-old Cook, who grew up in Nelson County.

"Unplug his amplifier and it would be so bluesy," he said.

Cook first heard the distinctive guitar riff of Hendrix's "Voodoo Child" when he was 12, and he's never been the same since. "It was the beginning of the end," Cook said.

The singer-songwriter has been playing at least one Hendrix tribute show every year for several years.

"There's a pretty large catalog to pull from," said Cook.

Self-taught, the area musician has played in various bands over the past decade and has several albums to his credit, including 2011's "Ace Jack and King." National guitar magazines have featured Cook, recognized for his prowess on the strings, and it's clearly his passion.

Cook got his start at age 14 playing gospel in the church down the street from his house. He doesn't formally read music, but he has quite the ear for it. Cook learned his craft through a lot of trial and error, he said.

"The biggest tool is listening to a lot of different music all the time, even stuff you might not particularly enjoy," he said. "There is always something you can pull out of it."

Without putting himself into one category, he considers himself a Southern Rock musician.

"That music is still the strongest influence for me, but it's blues, old gospel and old country, Appalachia, it's still the most primal and powerful," Cook said.

The local musician has opened for well-known names in the business, including five times for blues great B.B. King, the first coming when Cook was just 18.

"It was pretty daunting at the time," he said.

Cook said he got to meet King once.

"He doesn't come in until right before he plays -- that was definitely a thrill," he said. "(B.B. King) is so charming and amicable, especially with the fans, he had people lining up who wanted photographs and he offered me some fruit cup. That was cool. I was like, alright."

Cook has played all over the country and is preparing to put out another album in March on the L.A. label, Cleopatra Records. On it, Cook performed with guest artists including Government Mule.

"This album is the biggest deal for me as far as the biggest production so it's very exciting, but it's taken a long time," he said.

It was fun recording in L.A, which Cook said is like another planet.

"It's going to be very me," he said of the new album. "Southern Rock, a lot of blues influence. I think we recorded 22 songs. All of that will be cut down to the best 13 or so."

Cook will also be featured on an upcoming Cleopatra Records psychedelic Christmas album on which he sings, "Christmas Tears." When writing original music, Cook finds inspiration in the day-to-day.

"I try to write as lyrically speaking as possible, not to be too literal," he said. "I'm a big fan of imagery. My favorite Beatles song growing up was 'Rocky Raccoon' because it told a story. I think there's something to be said for that."

Jimi Hendrix died in 1970 of an overdose. He was born Nov. 27, 1942 in Seattle. Hendrix would have been 71. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.

Check out for more information about Saturday's Jimi Hendrix Tribute Show. All tickets are $12.


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