This past Autumn, the Brooklyn Music School (BMS) welcomed several new members to its Artistic Advisory Board. Each member of the Artistic Advisory Board brings a unique perspective, insight, and experience that is sure to support the Brooklyn Music School as it continues to grow and offer inspiring programming for music and dance students of all ages.  

In anticipation of his upcoming sold-out Jimi Hendrix Tribute concert with the Brooklyn Music School on February 24, 2018, we asked Nels Cline of Wilco, a few questions about what inspired him to join BMS's Artistic Advisory Board, and what Jimi Hendrix means to him.

Here's what he had to say. 

Q: What about the Brooklyn Music School Inspired you to get involved? 

Nels: I was approached through the gentlemen Seth Rosner, who run the excellent jazz record label Pi Recordings, to meet the school’s administrators about being on the advisory board, and as a fairly recent resident of Brooklyn and as one who is usually out of town playing, I thought that involvement on some level would offer the opportunity to contribute to my new community in some way. When I met with everyone and got a feel for what the school is about, I immediately loved it. The aim of providing music education for people of all ages and backgrounds is a noble one. I hope I can help in some way to make people aware of what the school is doing and to keep it thriving.

Q: What perspective or experience do you look forward to sharing with the Brooklyn Music School Community?

Nels: My musical background is not particularly academic, but my age (I am now 62!) and rather diverse stylistic impulses may make me an interesting voice to add to those already on staff at the school. My personal trajectory as a late-bloomer/late “success” could be a very encouraging story for musicians of all ages. It’s very hard to “make it” in music, and my consistent message has been to persevere and to try to follow one’s inner voice and not be deterred by disappointments and/or non-artistic pressures.

Q: What inspired you to want to do a Jimi Hendrix tribute? 

Nels: Well, it was really the school’s idea! It was suggested because they knew that my decision at age twelve to play guitar for the rest of my life happened when I heard Jimi back then, in 1967. I agreed to the idea right away. I sure hope I can do the music justice!

Q: What significance does Jimi Hendrix have for you in your life?

Nels: See my previous answer. Beyond that statement, Jimi still embodies the most potent, colorful, innovative, personal, exciting aspects of music - for me and, quite obviously, for millions of others the world over. The work still gets me revved up and inspires not just guitar expression/histrionics but creativity at its most electrifying. And at the core of it all: the Blues...

Q: Do you have a fun fact to share about you or your instrument? 

Nels: When I was young and thrilled by music and by Jimi, I never tried to play like him at all, thinking it was A) impossible, and B) almost sacrilege - Jimi seemed like pure magic, superhuman or something. I designed to be modest, un-flashy. Now, look what’s happened!