published Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Wooten brothers unite for rare family show - Dec. 4

IF YOU GO

* What: An Evening With Victor Wooten and His Brothers.

* When: 9 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4.

* Where: Track 29, 1400 Market St.

* Admission: $20 in advance, $22 at the door.

* Phone: 423-521-2929.

* Website: www.track29.co.

When it comes to bassists, some would argue that it’s pretty much Victor Wooten and then everybody else.

His novel thumb technique and genre-bending virtuosity have earned the (Bela Fleck and the) Flecktones co-founder five Grammy Awards and Player of the Year honors from Bass Player Magazine an unprecedented three times. In a poll, Rolling Stone readers named him one of the Top 10 bassists of all time.

But music didn’t always come to him with the effortlessness he now exudes. Joining his family’s band at age 5 was difficult, Wooten recalls, but his oldest brother and first teacher, guitarist Regi Wooten, spent a lot of time easing Victor’s frustration.

“I would sit there with tears in my eyes looking at my friends outside playing in the street while I had to learn the song,” he says. “Regi would gently say, ‘You’re crying now because it’s hard, and it is hard, but next week, you’ll be looking back and laughing. You’ll get it.’

“He never made me feel bad about any of it.”

Soon enough, Regi’s wisdom proved accurate. By age 6, Victor and his brothers were touring as openers for R&B luminary Curtis Mayfield. Two years later, he earned the nickname the 8-year-old Bass Ace. Before his 10th birthday, he was buying records to learn complicated riffs by jazz-fusion artists such Weather Report and Return to Forever.

Throughout his musical career, Victor has taken advantage of any opportunity to add Regi and keyboardist Joseph Wooten to the lineup of his own band. For more than 20 years, drumming visionary Roy “Futureman” Wooten has shared the stage with him as a fellow Flecktone.

Chances for all the Wootens to perform together, however, have been few and far between. The last time they were able to synchronize their schedules was about seven years ago, but the death in 2010 of saxophonist Rudy Wooten made a reunion more of a priority, he says.

On Wednesday, Dec. 4, the four remaining Wooten brothers will take the stage at Track 29 to commence a 13-date tour of the East Coast and Midwest.

“It always feels natural when I get to play with them,” Victor says. “It brings us back to our childhood. We pull up some of that old repertoire. It’s a lot of fun.

“It’s like coming home for a family reunion. You’re always happy to be there.”

Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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