Joe Satriani is coming home. For the first time in his career, the guitarist is performing in his hometown, at The Space at Westbury. But, this is no ordinary Saturday night gig for Satch, as his fans call him, but a return to sacred ground.
"Westbury is where I grew up, hung out and came of age," says Satriani, 57. "I'm sure when I walk up to the theater, the memories will come flooding back."
Satriani is a renowned guitar virtuoso who has sold more than 10 million albums worldwide. But his love for the instrument began in Westbury, where, at age 14, he boldly announced to his parents that he was going to become a professional rock guitarist, following in the footsteps of his hero, the late Jimi Hendrix.
"The first time I heard Hendrix, I felt like my whole world was kind of warped," says Satriani. "His natural musicianship just spoke to me. It sounded and felt right on a spiritual level, visceral level and intellectual level. I connected with it entirely."
When Satriani attended Carle Place High School, he not only played in the popular band Tarsus but also gave guitar lessons. One of his students was future guitar legend Steve Vai of Carle Place, who went on to play with Frank Zappa, David Lee Roth and Whitesnake before launching a solo career.
"I learned how to become a really good teacher because I had this young, phenomenally talented kid taking lessons from me," says Satriani. "After the first year, I had to work really hard to stay on the cutting edge of being his teacher. He caught up to me and we became more like comrades."
Today, Satriani and Vai are twin titans in the guitar community -- they often tour together.
"There's nothing more natural for me than to stand next to Steve onstage and improvise guitar," says Satriani. "I love doing that. It's like we are little kids again, in my backyard, playing guitar."
NO GRAMMY, NO PROBLEM
Throughout his 30-year professional career, Satriani has been nominated for 15 Grammys but has yet to win one. However, that doesn't haunt him.
"The connection between the artist and the fans is the most important thing. There are no trophies, plaques or certificates for it. It's something that goes undocumented," says Satriani. "A career is given to an artist by the fans. That's the most important award to me."
For this show, Satriani is expecting plenty of emotional fuel when he steps onto Post Avenue Saturday.
"I can count on myself to get some sort of creative urge once I go to a particular location," says Satriani. "As soon as I get to Westbury, I'll be filled with inspiration, and then I'll react."
WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m., Saturday, The Space at Westbury, 250 Post Ave.
INFO 516-283-5566, thespaceatwestbury.com
BOXED AND BOOKED
The guitarist recently released a 15 CD box set, "Joe Satriani: The Complete Studio Recordings" ($99.98) and a memoir, "Strange Beautiful Music: A Musical Memoir" (BenBella, $24.95).
The box set features all of Satriani's studio albums remastered, plus a bonus disc of unreleased studio gems. Meanwhile, the book covers Satriani's life, from his childhood on Long Island right up to the making of his latest album, "Unstoppable Momentum."