When I saw in the paper that Victor Wooten was coming to Portland, Oregon this past May 3rd, I just couldn’t miss the opportunity to see him play live
Like so many procrastinators that live in the great northwest, I waited until the afternoon of the performance to get my tickets. The Venue… The Aladdin Theater.
The Aladdin Theater started out as a vaudeville house in the 20’s. Throughout the following decades the theater evolved from family movie house to porn theater until finally in the early 1990’s the hall was renovated to become an icon of the Portland music scene. This 620 capacity venue has provided an intimate setting for some of the finest music of all genres. It is a quirky little place with an attached Bar (The Lamp… get it?) and a concession stand that serves up microbrews, wine and slices of pizza.
My wife and I got there early, as it is all general seating and found that there were already quiet a few people in place. The casual atmosphere allowed curious concertgoers the chance to go right up to the stage and inspect the arsenal of five Foderas surrounding a central stack of Aguilar Amps. The audience ranged from kids to seniors and was peppered with Portland’s unique eclectic crowd. By the time Victor took the stage, the house was packed.
Victor was sporting a Spiderman baseball jersey and a contagious smile as he stepped up to start playing what would be a two-and-a-half hour non-intermission performance. On stage with Victor were his older brothers Joseph and Regi. A second Bass player, Anthony “Flex” Wellington, Drummer Derico Watson and Vocalist Saundra Williams completed the ensemble.
We were treated to a truly amazing line up of tunes with a wide variety of rhythms from funk to reggae. Victors playing is nothing less than mind blowing! Lightning fast speed (Trying to see his fingers is like trying to see a hummingbirds wings beat), amazing slap, flawless execution and He sings too. I don’t think I can even begin to describe what I heard. Victor is simply playing on a whole other level… and he makes it look so easy!
In addition to Victor tearing it up, each of his fellow musicians gave a demonstration of their amazing individual talent. (Notice, I can’t say amazing enough!) You have simply got to hear and see them to grasp the level of performance we witnessed that night.
Now, add to that sturdy musical backbone, a touch of theology, & philosophy, a passion for music education (for those that don’t know, Victor and his wife recently purchased over 100 acres of land in Tennessee as a permanent home for his ‘Bass Nature Camp’) and a genuine warmness, and I found myself wanting to be a better player and a better person. I think that everyone in the theater felt the same as the show ended with everyone on their feet.
I feel privileged to have experienced such an amazing performance, but more so to have had the opportunity to shake the hand of a master and Guru among us.
Note to self… I must read his book, listen to his CD again and maybe someday I will go to camp.