Henri Brown has earned himself some big-league connections in the music world, thanks in part to the family roots he shares with Jimi Hendrix.
Brown, a Surrey resident and first cousin of the Seattle-raised guitar legend, is a mainstay on the Experience Hendrix tour that has featured a cavalcade of rock and blues stars in recent years, including Buddy Guy, Johnny Lang, Dweezil Zappa, Kenny Aronoff and many others, in a concert showcase of Hendrix’s immortal music.
One of those recent Experience Hendrix tour stars, Joe Satriani, is featured on the latest song recorded by Brown and his band, HB Wild.
The new “Make Time 4 Love,” a rearranged number Brown wrote and recorded for an album years ago, is also featured in a video posted to Youtube on Thursday (March 5).
“I had the song and recorded the bed tracks and everything, all done,” Brown explained. “And when I met Joe (Satriani) on the (Experience Hendrix) tour, I just asked him about doing a solo on one of the tracks, and he said he’d be honoured, which was great. As soon as we got back from the tour, I sent him the song, he loved it, he said to give him two or three days and he came back with a draft and just a screamin’ solo on it – but you know, he did three passes before he was happy with it. I said, ‘Man, do as many as you want!’”
The video features HB Wild band members Corey Phillips on guitar, Stan Ganapolsky on keys and Jayson Dean on drums, and the song will be included on a new HB Wild album of songs, said Brown, who sings and plays bass.
“We gonna finish the record soon and then do some festivals and support-act shows, hopefully, for some of the tours of the biggest artists I’ve gotten to know, right,” Brown explained. “That song with Joe (Satriani), I looked today and it has around 18,000 streams on Spotify, and I’ve never had that many streams with all the songs I’ve put on Spotify, put together, and that’s just in a few days of the new song. Satriani’s name has to play a part in that, no doubt.”
Brown met Jimi Hendrix just once, but he doesn’t remember much about the encounter.
“I was young,” Brown said in 2009, “but he (Hendrix) grew up with my older brother and sister for a time, in East Vancouver. He went to school there…. The fans will know where, but I have no idea.”
Brown’s mother, Pearl, was sister to Jimi’s father. While Jimi and his family had roots in Seattle, the Brown clan moved from Spokane to Vancouver when Henri was six. Today, he lives in the Fleetwood area of Surrey.
“HB,” as Brown is called in a bio posted to experiencehendrixtour.com, has a long and expansive background in the music and film industry. TV viewers might recognize him from his late-1990s acting stint on The Sentinel, which found him playing a cop named, yes, Henri Brown, opposite old buddy Richard Burgi, star of the show.
For the Experience Hendrix shows, Brown was invited along to perform nine years ago. Last year, he did close to 48 dates on the tour.
“It’s great, and I’m just so happy and honoured that they keep inviting me back,” Brown said. “I’m now the emcee for the whole show, yeah, and so I come out and it’s nice to be myself and do what I do. I sing a lot of songs – you know, ‘Purple Haze’ with Dave Mustaine, another one with Eric Johnson, ‘Foxy Lady’ with Billy Cox and Mato Nanji, and one of the Slide Brothers, Chuck Campbell. Buddy Guy is up there, and Chris Layton is drums on everything.
“This year,” Brown continued, “I usually hear about it about six months beforehand, so if they’re doing one in the fall I won’t know about it until next month or whatever, so I’m waiting for that email. I’m ready.”
The closest the tour has come to Vancouver is Seattle. “Some family and friends were there for that, which was great,” Brown said. “Usually we start in Florida or something like that, get in the bus and away we go.”
With HB Wild, Brown keeps busy with gigs, too.
“You know, I’m 60 and I still get to play,” he said, “and I laugh at that because then there’s Buddy Guy, who’s 83. Never mind, c’mon. I have time, you know.
“The place I play the most right now is Guilt and Co., down in Gastown,” Brown continued, “and it’s great, probably one of the nicest gigs in the city, really hip. I get there around 8 and the place is packed by 8:30, a lineup way outside the door. And it’s weird because it’s all by donation.”
Brown is on the web at henribrown.com.