The Jimi Hendrix of [insert country name here]!

Looking for a way to quickly and easily describe for Western listeners a virtuoso musician from a far-flung part of the world? Just name-check Jimi Hendrix, as commenters did with Vieux Kante, seen here playing the hell out of a kamelengoni.

In some ways, it’s only natural to use some sort of shorthand to translate, say, the esoteric sounds of the sitar into terms that anyone who grew up listening to rock radio can understand. So we get: the Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele. The Jimi Hendrix of Japan. The Jimi Hendrix of South Africa. And, of course, the Jimi Hendrix of Turkey. I’ve done it myself, in discussing Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Toure’s incendiary new live touring act. At his most recent SF show, I tweeted, “He’s entered his Hendrix phase, with a power trio and everything.” And there was a resemblance to Band of Gypsys-era Hendrix, in both his liquid playing and the swing of the rhythm section. (It should be noted that Mali, a particularly guitar-happy country, has numerous contenders for the title. A few years ago, Vanity Fair reported that Baba Salah was known as not just the “Jimi Hendrix of Mali” but the “Jimi Hendrix of Africa.”

Right after I got out of college, I went traveling for a half-year or so, a dirtbag backpacker following my own version of the hippie trail. I ended up in Essaouria, Morocco, where Hendrix himself had spent some time. Local legend has it that he was so inspired by the ruins of an old fort on the beach that he wrote the song “Castles Made of Sand” (or, depending on the source, “Spanish Castle Magic.”). The songwriting claims aren’t true but, judging by all the drug dealers clogging the narrow streets, at least Jimi didn’t lack for hash. I spent a few days chasing his ghost, from restaurants where he ate to places where he stayed and musicians he supposedly played with. I never found a trace of the guy, of course. Little did I know, he was only an Internet search away. Voila: the Jimi Hendrix of Morocco.