It was five years ago that then-14-year-old Dylan Welch was playing guitar in his room with the window open to White Rock’s waterfront when he heard someone shout up some enthusiastic approval.
While he admits it was an unusual way to receive accolades, even stranger still was finding out that the praise was coming from White Rock musician Johnny Andrade – who has recently gone public with his parentage as the son of legendary singer-guitarist Jimi Hendrix.
“I was playing out my window and I hear this guy playing outside, and he says, ‘Hey, you sound pretty good,’” Welch recalled. “He had his guitar and so we started playing and we just connected.”
Hendrix passed on his number to Welch, who later misplaced it, resulting in five years going by before the two musicians connected again.
However, upon hearing about an upcoming concert featuring Hendrix with the late rock icon’s brother, Leon, Welch tracked down Hendrix and was invited to perform.
The July 6 performance at Sawbucks Neighbourhood Pub was significant to the teen for obvious reasons, but it also marked the first time the Semiahmoo Secondary grad had been to a bar.
“I was nervous enough to go in there, but then to go in and perform with Leon and Johnny. It was quite an experience. I never thought I would get to go up and play a show like that,” he said. “It was something that just made my heart keep going. I was up until one in the morning the next day.”
Although it was Welch’s inaugural bar performance, the White Rock resident – who picked up an electric guitar at the age of 10, and “never put it down” – has played gigs in his hometown and in Vancouver with his band, Panic Picnic.
Formed in January with his younger brother Devon, 17, who plays drums, and friend and bass player Jacob Harris, Welch has been a frequent visitor and performer at the Jimi Hendrix Shrine in Vancouver’s Strathcona community.
But if making the trek to Vancouver isn’t possible, the trio will also perform closer to home this summer, busking around White Rock, Welch said.
Describing his music as influenced by a wide range of performers – including Hendrix, The Ramones and Maroon 5 – Welch is working on a batch of new music. Penned by the prolific songwriter, the next step is to copyright the original work and release it.
“I write a new song every day. I just get inspiration through the air, the flowers and the trees – God really. I believe that it comes to you through angels,” he said.
The Hendrixes are set to come back to the Peninsula later on this year, which has prompted Welch to practise his guitar to Leon’s album, Keeper of the Flame.
“I’m just hoping to connect again, and get a chance to play,” he said.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/panicpicnicband