Concert review: Ace of bass comes to Beaver Creek
February 11, 2013
While the Grammys ceremony was taking place on Sunday night, a five-time winner was instead gracing the stage in Beaver Creek. Victor Wooten, best known as the virtuoso bassist of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, and his band were performing at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in support of his two latest albums. Those albums, “Words and Tones” and “Sword and Stone,” were simultaneously released last fall. The former is complete with vocals while the latter is an instrumental effort. The albums share a lot of the same tracks, yet are reordered and presented in a unique manner with new interpretations. Examine the album titles against each other and you can see his subtle use of wordplay hints at the same notion.”Love is my favorite word,” said Wooten during a visit to the Radio Free Minturn studio before the show. Throughout the show, Wooten stated the importance of loving one another while we are fortunate enough to be alive together. The losses of Wooten’s mother and brother lead to the writing of the closing number, “Heaven,” in which all nine musicians on stage sang individual homage to those they have lost.There were far more upbeat moments throughout the night. Wooten’s band, maxing out at nine members at times, was energetic and having fun. “That’s impossible!” Wooten declared as bandmate Steven Bailey, also the chair of the bass department at the Berklee School of Music, worked out a solo on a six-string fretless bass. The band was seriously heavy on the low end and at times had four bass guitars in a single arrangement. All the band members are multi-instrumentalists and switched up their tools throughout the night. Vocalist Chrystal Peterson even propped her petite frame behind one of the two drum kits on stage.Most of the setlist comprised songs from the new albums. Stevie Wonder’s “Tell Me Something Good” surfaced and made for a nice cover to change the pace. The highlights of the show were Wooten’s jaw dropping solo during “Brooklyn,” his beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace,” and the funked-out dance party that was the encore. Wooten’s band took Aretha Franklin’s “The House that Jack Built” and sandwiched The Jackson 5, Herbie Hancock and Sly & the Family Stone inside of it.Wooten made clear that he sees life is all about balance. When I asked Victor about his extensive use of the yin-yang symbol, (he has an album by that name, he plays guitars designed around it, and wore a patch with the symbol), he said, “It’s a symbol I first liked back in my martial arts training as a kid. Later it became more meaningful to me. Everything has an opposite to create balance and meaning. You can’t have light without dark, you can’t have a flower without dirt, and you can’t have good without bad.” His career requires tremendous balance these days as well. Between the Flecktones, his solo project, recording, touring, writing books, teaching at his music and nature camps, and being a family man, it’s amazing that the man is so full of energy. Even after the show closed, he was in the lobby of the Vilar signing autographs and talking with every last person who wished to see him.Bob Bloczynski is a DJ for 107.9 Radio Free Minturn. His funk and soul radio show, “Get Up and Get Down with Bobby B,” airs Tuesday mornings from 7 to 9 a.m. Send comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.