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Columbus band brings new twist to Jimi Hendrix experience

Courtesy of Norma Redd Martin

This is part of our weekly series titled “Columbus’ Own,” where we profile a local band every Thursday.

There are spiritual bands and blues rock bands, but not many that classify themselves as hyper-spiritual, amplified-blues-rock like Dexter Wesley and the New Experience.

With Jimi Hendrix-inspired classic rock sounds, and inspiration from timeless blues musicians, lead singer and guitarist Wesley and bassist Myke Rock attempt to create an experience that puts a twist on the long-standing genres.

The attraction to this mixed genre comes from guitar-god Hendrix.

“It started with Jimi breaking strings,” Wesley said.

Even though Wesley writes his own music, part of the experience for the audience is based off Hendrix’s style and persona. Not only does Wesley’s style of music blend with Hendrix, so does his style of dress and stage appearance.

Wesley, like Hendrix, can play guitar with their teeth. Wesley said learning to incorporate the alternate play style caused him to cut his gums multiple times.

Playing the guitar with his teeth is one thing, but Wesley said he is not ready to commit to setting his guitar on fire like Hendrix did at the end of one of his performances.

“I have expensive guitars,” Wesley said. “We’re not selling out stadiums, yet.”

Rock said there are three phases of Dexter Wesley and the New Experience.

“One is a Hendrix tribute, the second is Dexter originals and the third is a mix of both,” Rock said.  

Wesley and Rock said even though elements of their show are based off Hendrix, they don’t consider themselves a tribute band. Instead they find inspiration from Hendrix’s life and music.

Giving the audience a full Hendrix-inspired experience has come with some hardships for the band. Wesley said he and Rock struggle to find a permanent drummer who can imitate Hendrix’s drummer, Mitch Mitchell. Since combining efforts in August, Wesley and Rock have played with what they call “drummers by committee.”

“Trying to emulate Mitch Mitchell’s style is the greatest obstacle, but we know there are people out there who can do it,” Rock said.

Rock said they are looking for a drummer who can join them in a “hell of a journey.”

“We are looking for the one guy who can do it all with the band,” Rock said.

Struggling with drummers has always been his issue when it comes to making music, Rock said.

For Wesley, his biggest challenge has been learning to play his  style of music, and learning how to work his fingers the way Hendrix did.

Wesley and Rock learned to play various instruments when they were children. Each had been part of family bands with their siblings, and their love for music grew from there.

Wesley started playing on a plastic trumpet when he was 3 years old and picked up his brother’s guitar years later. Rock said he attempted Conga drums when he was about 11 years old, but after struggling to learn how to play, he decided to switch to bass.

When he was about 15 years old, Rock joined the Screaming Urge, which he said was one of Columbus’ first punk bands.

Even though Wesley and Rock have been playing music since their childhoods, playing together is something new to them.

The two musicians met 25 years ago but lost touch. Wesley said he found Rock again on Facebook and asked if he would be interested in jamming. Rock was all for it.

Since coming together, Wesley and Rock said they have had a blast working together.

Rock said their styles blend really well because of what each brings to the table.

“I can pick up playing in the minute, and Dexter lives in the minute, so it’s a good mixture of music,” Rock said.

Although they have been playing together for a number of months, Wesley and Rock have not written any songs together. Their shows mainly showcase either Wesley’s or Hendrix’s originals.

Wesley said he draws inspiration from legends in the music business.

“I get inspiration from great things,” Wesley said. “I’m going to start pulling from jazz next.”

Getting a steady drummer will change they way they write music, Rock said. Once the band is complete, they can focus on other details, such as song writing.

Even though the two have not been able to collaborate with song writing, Wesley said he is proud of the music they have made so far.

Dexter Wesley and the New Experience have yet to debut a full album, but have a five-song CD. The two have been working in the studio to produce three more songs. “We’re going to keep adding on until we get a full album,” Rock said.

While working on producing a full album, Wesley and Rock said they are hoping to be signed with a major record deal.

Wesley and Rock have performed more than 30 shows together since they have united. The duo has played for multiple venues in their hometown of Columbus, from Comfest to fundraisers in Marion and bars in the Brewery District.

Wesley said he has been playing by the motto his father told him years ago: “Play it, and play it good.”

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