Looking at the heady lineup of guitarists gathered for this year’s “Experience Hendrix” tour, several familiar names are highlighted: Joe Satriani (back after nearly a decade), Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, Billy Cox from the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Zakk Wylde of Ozzy Osbourne fame, Jonny Lang, Dweezil Zappa and more.
More men, that is.
But there is one eye-catching inclusion – Ana Popović, the stunning blues guitarist from Serbia and the only female on the lineup.
Popović, 42, has been unleashing her stinging brand of blues guitar for nearly 20 years – last fall she released her eighth studio album, the female-empowering “Like It On Top” – and will be on board the Jimi Hendrix tribute tour for the fifth time when it pulls into the Fox Theatre on Saturday.
Checking in from the road earlier this week, the engaging musician, who is now based in Los Angeles when not on tour, talked about the enduring magic of Hendrix.
Ana Popovic is the only female guitarist on the Experience Hendrix tour.
Q: You contributed to the Hendrix tribute album in 2000 (“Blue Haze: Songs of Jimi Hendrix”), but when did your appreciation of him start?
A: Back when I was in Serbia, I was a teen listening to Albert King and the Chicago blues with Buddy Guy. In the middle of all of that was Hendrix. He was very present in our home. Later on, I moved to Amsterdam and studied jazz at the conservatory (of jazz and world-music) and Hendrix always stayed a very big inspiration. You still learn stuff…What he was doing before anybody else was amazing. Now all of these amazing guitarists come together to perform his songs. You realize we're still trying to copy some of his energy. He really influenced all of us and is a part of all different musical genres.
Q: How did you get involved in the tour?
A: They don't have a whole lot of ladies on the tour! It was my dream tour back in the day. I was always looking at the lineup, like, they need a woman on that tour. I was always playing a few of Jimi's songs in my own set – "Belly Button Window" and "House Burning Down" and "Crosstown Traffic." I like things from the B-sides. It was only natural to hope that one day they would invite me. I'm honored they keep calling me back. Other guitar festivals could use more female guitarists onstage.
Q: For people who haven’t attended an “Experience Hendrix” show, what’s the format?
A: Basically we all do a few songs of Jimi's. I play with Dweezil (Zappa) and with Mato (Nanji from Indigenous) as well. We all do our little sets and we all get to experience Hendrix tunes in our own way. It's how fantastic how the songs are divided and the audience knows the songs, but it's a big variety. There's not a weak spot in the set. Everybody really kills it and puts their "A" game.
Q: Do you still see people in the audience who are surprised to see a woman in heels absolutely shredding on guitar?
A: On this tour, yes. For all of us, we have one thing in common - that we're gaining a new audience. There are always people who never heard you and that's a very nice thing about this tour. Hendrix could unite all kinds of audiences.
Listen to the full interview here:
With Joe Satriani, Dave Mustaine, Billy Cox, Zakk Wylde, Jonny Lang, Dweezil Zappa, Ana Popović, Eric Johnson, Doyle Bramhall II, Doug Pinnick, Chris Layton, Mato Nanji, Kenny Aronoff, The Slide Brothers, Henri Brown and Kevin McCormick. 8 p.m. Saturday. $43.50-$73.50. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 1-855-285-8499, foxtheatre.org.
Melissa Ruggieri has covered music and entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution since 2010 and created the Atlanta Music Scene blog. She's kept vampire hours for more than two decades and remembers when MTV was awesome.