Old is New Again

The world of classic rock lovers today is an increasingly difficult one. With band members reaching advanced age, tragic deaths and plentiful farewell tours ensue.

This is especially alarming for young fans who grew up loving music decades removed from themselves.

I can’t tell you how many times I become insanely jealous of my dad when he nonchalantly mentions a band he’s seen in their heyday that is no longer touring. I can ensure you it has happened more times than I care to mention.

As a young classic rock fan, not only do we have to accept the fact that many of our favorites are dead or retired, but also come to terms with never experiencing iconic live performances firsthand. And if we are being honest, the epic concert experience is a huge part of the sensory experience that is music.

With such icons as Jimi Hendrix, Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan and Robert Plant, it is easy to believe no suitable replacement exists.

Perhaps not, but you would be surprised how many current bands creating music and actively touring today harken back to the golden era we all loved, but never experienced for ourselves.

They may be our only chance to experience what it is like to witness such a high level of technical skill coupled with nostalgia in our lifetime.

Icon: Neil Young

What’s not to love about Canadian singer, songwriter and screenwriter Neil Young?

From his start in the ’60s with bands Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, to a long fruitful solo career, Neil Young has had a hand in many of the era’s most memorable tunes.

His gift for imagery and sensitivity for the world’s injustices enables Young to use his talents to act as a mouthpiece for change.

Most of the time, his most popular activist rock is admittedly aimed at the United States, but let’s be honest, we have quite a bit we could improve on as a country.

Sometimes, it takes an outsider to bring it to light, and that is exactly what Neil Young is known for.

Musically, Young’s voice is unmistakeable, the somber howl of a man with the weight of a world in peril on his shoulders.

With a healthy blend of sad introspective acoustics and heavy-hitting activist anthems backed by electric guitar, Young especially resonates with the enlightened outsider and fiery activist.

Discover: Torgeir Waldemar

Could anyone other than Young himself create such a powerful unique sound? The answer is yes.

Enter Norwegian country artist Torgeir Waldemar.

Now you may be thinking, country? How could singing about beer and trucks be close to Neil Young?

Fear not, country music in Norway is more like folk music is to us.

Like Young, Waldemar’s discography includes plaintive  acoustics and catchy rockers.

A relatively newcomer to the music scene, Waldemar surprised and delighted with his 2014 self-titled release.

His popularity quickly grew, but then again, why wouldn’t it? An artist with the same penchant for songs of heartbreak, activism and “otherness” as the king Young himself deserves high praise.

Earlier this year, Waldemar released new music on the album titled “No Offending Borders,” and if that doesn’t tell you all you need to know, I don’t know what will.  

Icon: Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix is the undisputed “God of Guitar,” a title destined to remain with him alone.

The innovation  and sheer technical skill Hendrix demonstrated with the electric guitar is ethereal. Mixing blues with psychedelic and adding in a healthy dose of improvisation, his dead cool, funky riffs are legendary.  

Not only was he an amazing guitar player, but he also knew a thing or two about writing great song lyrics with a flair for the magical and the exhilarating.

For classic rock fans, he is definitely one of the most sorely missed talents.

Discover: Gary Clark Jr., Tash Sultana

While it is easy to try and dismiss that there are guitarists today with the same flair for pushing the boundaries of the electric guitar as Hendrix, two names come to mind for me.

First, Gary Clark Jr.

The young Texas guitarist is a beast on the guitar, mixing elements of blues, funk and soul into a hefty blend.

WIKIMEDIA | PHOTO COURTESY
Tash Sultana brings warm island beats, blues and stellar guitar playing the likes of Jimi Hendrix.

Clark Jr. rips through one high gain riff after another with bluesy vocals that complement, instead of compete for, attention with his masterful playing.

Second, Tash Sultana.

While Gary Clark Jr. has been on the music beat for a while now, 22-year-old Tash Sultana is the newest sensation for guitar lovers everywhere.

Self-taught from the age of three, Sultana possesses superior skill to many of her male contemporaries with clean, bright, soulful guitar and dreamy smooth vocals.

This Melbourne artist is reaching stardom at the speed of light, and for good reason.   

Icon: Lynyrd Skynyrd

For Southern Rock junkies, nothing beats Lynyrd Skynyrd. “Freebird,” “Simple Man” and “Sweet Home Alabama” are just a few of the staples credited to them.

With so many hits, it is hard to remember how short lived the band truly was.

Drawing subject matter from their small-town southern upbringings, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s music resonated with small town, rural youth eager for the subject matter of country music, but the interest of guitar riffs.

While Lynyrd Skynyrd is still touring with help of family and friends, the original lineup will never be seen live again.

Discover:  Blackberry Smoke

Blackberry Smoke is the next best thing to Lynyrd Skynyrd. They are even from Georgia, too!

This southern rock band has jumped around from record company to record company since their debut album way back in 2004, and were signed to Zac Brown’s (of Zac Brown Band) label at one point.

Honky Tonk vocals, killer ’70s inspired guitar and so much more make this band addicting.

The mandatory small-town subject matter is still there, but presented in a way that borrows from several genres.

There is no replacing the van Zants, but Blackberry Smoke is a great consolation prize.  

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