William Munoz

(Missoula Current) When Slash, the lead guitarist from Guns N Roses, decided to put together a 29-date tour with a number of blues legends, he began the tour at the Kettlehouse Amphitheater in Missoula.

This endeavor was not just a celebration of the blues, but it's also "about making a difference.” He dubbed the tour name S.E.R.P.E.N.T., an anagram that stands for Solidarity, Engagement, Restore, Peace, Equality, N Tolerance.”

Most tours have a VIP section in which fans can purchase tickets to meet and greet the artists. Slash has decided to donate all the money made through the VIP program to one of five charities whose goals include “Raising public awareness to educate, empower and mobilize, break the cycle of poverty and violence, challenge racial and economic injustice, and build healthy, viable communities of color.”

Eric Gales, a virtuoso guitar player whose style is heavily influenced by blues legends Jimi Hendrix, Albert King and B.B. King, opened the concert and set the stage for an evening of intense music. Samantha Fish followed - an amazing guitar player with powerful vocals.

“...I think it's pretty cool what Slash is doing, making a blues record and putting on this festival because it is going to showcase how broad the blues are because the artists on the lineup are incredibly different from one another,” she said. “I think this festival is going to be the gateway for a lot of people to discover the music that is all about the human condition and open people's mind in a great way.”

Fish was followed by Warren Haynes, the longtime guitarist with The Allman Brothers Band and founder of Gov't Mule. He brought a different interpretation of the music. Slash closed out with a 90-minute set that brought together his Blues Ball bandmates Johnny Griparic and Teddy Andreadis, with the addition of Michael Jerome and Tash Neal.

His interest in the blues was turned on by his American grandmother and he was immediately drawn to B.B. King. His latest project, “Orgy of the Damned,” represents 12 blues classics that celebrate the past while bringing a current spirit to the songs.

I knew Slash to be a great rock and roll guitarist but to see him bring the blues alive was unexpected. He is clearly a great guitar player and plays the blues with the best.

Through this tour, Slash is showing a general audience that rock owes its existence to the blues. To put on this festival is something that music desperately needs, and to add the charity front and center deserves praise.

Slash brings the blues

Gallery Credit: William Munoz/Missoula Current