Five-time Grammy Award winner and a founding member of the super-group, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Victor Wooten gets ready to take the stage at the Keswick Theater in Glenside on Friday, June 8.
The talented bass player is gearing up for the release of two new albums on his own label, VIX Records later this year, and promises a new sound and new experience you can hear from no one else.
“We have a vocal record and an instrumental one featuring lots of the same songs. The instrumental is called ‘Sword and Stone,’ but if you take the letter S off each word and put it at the end, it becomes ‘Word and Stone.’ That’s the name of the vocal record,” Wooten explains.
Born in 1964 in Idaho, the youngest of five Wooten brothers, Victor Wooten learned to play when he was just about two years old, learning from his oldest brother, Regi.
“I think from the time I was born they already knew they needed a bass player to complete the band. And that became me,” Wooten laughs.
But Wooten had ambitions like other young boys. “Growing up I thought about becoming a fireman or a policeman. But by the time I got into junior high school it dawned on me that I could keep playing music and not have to do anything else to make money. So I started to do just that.”
While his parents played no instruments, they were very musical, according to their young son. “They loved to sing. They sang in church a lot. They were always playing records around the house. As kids, they would take us to concerts. It was through them that I learned that you don’t have to play an instrument to be musical.”
But, Wooten claims, his brothers were smart. “They had me playing with them before I was actually playing bass. They just had me strumming on a toy so I was playing songs with them, even though I wasn’t really playing an instrument.”
But as time went on, Wooten began playing many instruments, learning mostly on his own. “I was surrounded by people from birth who could already play. So although I had no formal lessons per se, I learned the best way possible, by playing with people who could already play. Also, I was always in a band so I had a band to play in and a place to play.”
By the time Wooten was six years old, he was touring with his bothers as the opening band for soul legend, Curtis Mayfield. Later, Wooten hit the worldwide stage in 1990 as a founding member of Bella Fleck & The Flecktones.
“Bela was asked by someone to film his life’s story for TV. To go along with that, we became a group and were only supposed to last for a year, for one show. Well, here we are over 20 years later and still going strong,” Wooten explains.
“Over the years, I’ve grown musically, developing a solid foundation by playing with my brothers,” he continues. “But when I joined the Flecktones it gave me the opportunity of portraying a whole new variety of music with other musicians, and I began playing in a musical style I never knew about.”
Looking back, Wooten, a composer, arranger, innovator, producer, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, lecturer, naturalist, author, teacher, magician, husband and the father of four, acknowledges that his life has been very satisfying. But not without its challenges.
“I believe there are challenges to be faced in every career,” he states. “Growing up in the late ’60s, I faced racial issues. Oh, as the youngest in my family I went through the least, but still I had to face them.”
He says he also grew up at a time when becoming a professional musician was not a viable choice. “People tried to talk us out of it in school. We listened, we just didn’t agree.”
“We also grew up at a time when there was already a five-piece Black group out in California by the name of the Jackson Five,” Wooten continues. “But we faced all there was to face and eventually succeeded.”
For times and ticket information, call (215) 572-7650.