Jimy to channel Jimi at Cafe Wha?

Jimy Bleu is considered the world’s No. 1 Jimi Hendrix tribute guitarist.

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | In recognition of what would have been Jimi Hendrix’s 75th birthday, the world’s leading Hendrix tribute artist is performing Mon., Nov. 27, at Cafe Wha?, where the legendary rock guitar player was discovered.

Kiss The Sky, The RE-Experience, featuring Jimy Bleu, will be channeling Hendrix and his two bands, the Experience and the Band of Gypsies, at the MacDougal St. gig.

Bleu has been doing a Hendrix show since 1968. Jimy is his first name and Bleu is a stage name.

Like Hendrix, Bleu plays his guitar left-handed and has down all of the famed rocker’s stage moves. He and his band mates sport replica wardrobes and instruments and even use ’60s-era amplifiers.

They also feature the authentic, psychedelic Joshua Light Show at their performances.

Bleu, a native New Yorker, first got into Hendrix — who was nine years his senior — when he was a student at Performing Arts High School, in Midtown. Hendrix and drummer Buddy Miles would occasionally stop by the school on their way to Manny’s Music store, on W. 48th St., because Miles was dating the parent of a student there, and they would chat with the students on the front steps. Hendrix would park his Corvette Stingray in front.

Bleu, who was interested in a girl who was a big rock groupie, joined the Jimi Hendrix fan club because of her, and wound up seeing Hendrix perform all around the area, including at Woodstock and the Fillmore East.

He learned by watching.

“Jimi played with his body a lot,” Bleu said. “That can’t be taught in a book. Jimi Hendrix played in between the notes.

“I am the authority on Jimi Hendrix,” Bleu stated. “I can go into a studio and recreate his sound — that’s drum kit, bass and guitar and vocals.”

Bleu attended Berklee College of Music, and said that it was Hendrix — in a brief chat on the steps of Performing Arts H.S. — who encouraged him to go there.

Beyond his sheer technique, what made Hendrix’s music so special, Bleu said, was “the mysticism of his music.”

Jimy Bleu playing with his Band of Gypsys lineup.

Although Hendrix was infamous for his heavy drug use, that’s one area where Bleu and he differ.

“I’m very adamant against drugs,” he said. “It’s meditation and tai chi for me.”

Unlike Hendrix, Bleu found early on that he simply could not play onstage while high.

“I was totally useless,” he said. “I don’t know how he would do it.”

In addition to performing his music, Bleu also gives lectures about Hendrix. He knows the story of how, for example, Linda Keith, Keith Richards then-girlfriend, brought Chas Chandler, the Animals’ manager, down to see Hendrix playing at Cafe Wha? That eventually led to Hendrix going to England, where he first made a name for himself, before returning to America and making a splash at the Monterey Pop Festival.

Asked about the current campaign to co-name W. Eighth St. between Fifth and Sixth Aves. in the Village as “Jimi Hendrix Way,” Bleu said he supports it. It was on this block that Hendrix created his Electric Lady Studios, which remains there to this day.

“Yes, I think so,” Bleu said of the co-naming idea. “Eighth St. used to come alive when Jimi was in town. He would go straight to his studio or jam, and it was often Eighth St. … He lived all over — Chelsea, Tribeca. His studio was on Eighth St.; he lived there.”

Before it was Electric Lady Studios, the spot was home to the Generation Club, “a funky little coffeehouse,” Bleu recalled.

“Jimi used to go there after gigs and jam,” he said. “First, he wanted to make it into a club. And he was advised by his engineer, ‘Why not make it a recording studio?’”

Special guests at Monday’s show will include Juma Sultan, a percussionist from Jimi Hendrix’s legendary Woodstock band; Bob Davis, a music historian and activist petitioning to have the Band of Gypsys (Hendrix, Buddy Miles and Billy Cox) inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; and Storm Ritter, who is petitioning for W. Eighth St. to be co-named “Jimi Hendrix Way.”

Kiss the Sky’s show will run about 90 minutes, at Cafe Wha?, at 115 MacDougal St. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15. For tickets, go to http://cafewha.com/event.cfm?id=268457

For a video of Bleu performing Hendrix’s “Killing Floor” click here.

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