By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Leon had flown to New York unaccompanied by his regular band. Instead he played with what he termed from the stage his "New York band." After Leon opened with the track "Jimi & Me" off Keeper of the Flame, the crowd applauded warmly. To this a self-deprecating Leon responded, "You guys are too kind. That was terrible."
When he moved on to covers of "Foxy Lady" and "Red House," the assembled group of mostly Caucasian tourists became genuinely enthused. "Kind of surreal seeing Jimi's brother," remarked one onlooker.
At gig after gig, Leon's magnetism proves a recurring trait. Glen Bui, the lead guitarist for Goldy McJohn & Friendz, says that "Leon got more attention from the fans than us or Foghat" when the three acts shared a bill at Farragut State Park Amphitheater in Coeur d'Alene this past summer.
Two days after the Paramount gala, at Kennedy's Nightclub in Longview, a workaday town that most Seattleites only stop in for gas en route to Portland, Leon's band is set to share a bill with McJohn and Bui. A poster on the club's window touts Leon's band as "Jimi Hendrix brother Leon Hendrix," and a portion of the evening's proceeds is designated for the families of fallen soldiers.
Leon begins his set with an eloquent tribute to those who've perished in the line of duty, and then launches into "Let's Roll," a driving rocker about United 93. Next the band plays a solid cover of "Sympathy for the Devil," after which Leon passes around a tin bucket and encourages patrons to drop money into it for the show's beneficiaries.
Later the band covers "All Along the Watchtower," during which Leon executes a deft, smoking guitar solo. They close with their usual cover of "Johnny B. Goode," with Leon tweaking the lyrics so that he sings, "Go, Jimi, go!"
Afterwards, as McJohn and Bui haul gear to the stage in advance of their set, Leon nonchalantly sits down at a table with a drink. Mere seconds go by before a crowd gathers around him, where Leon chats with fans and autographs clothing, CDs — even a woman's breasts.
"I'm not in Jimi's shadow," he says. "I'm in the shade." (See "Voodoo Child: He Ain't Not Heavy.")
With reporting from Ben Westhoff in New York as well as Erinn Unger and Kassiopia Rodgers in Seattle.