Today–ON WES’S BIRTHDAY–we’d like to share with you the great news! The numbers are in! We were able to make the largest contribution to the Wes Wehmiller Scholarship to date! Many thanks to Justin Randi and The Baked Potato and to YOU!
Here’s the official press release:
WESFEST 9 BENEFIT CONCERT RAISES $24,000
FOR WES WEHMILLER SCHOLARSHIP FUND
AT BERKLEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC
9th annual event brings in 2nd largest total to date
LOS ANGELES, CA (September 12, 2014) – WesFest 9, the ninth annual WesFest benefit concert, took place at The Baked Potato in Los Angeles on March 16, 2014. The concert and related fundraising drive raised more than $24,000 for the Wes Wehmiller Endowed Scholarship Fund at Berklee College of Music. The total amount generated by the WesFest initiative since its inception in 2006 has now reached $200,000.
Officially supported this year by corporate sponsors Mike Lull Custom Guitars, D’Addario Strings and Warwick Basses & Amps, the WesFest concert series has made the Wes Wehmiller Scholarship one of the leading awards for performance majors at Berklee College of Music. Established by Wes’ family and friends in 2005, the Wes Wehmiller Scholarship is awarded annually to a continuing student at Berklee who best exemplifies the excellence and grace Wehmiller showed as a bassist and as a human being. The WesFest concert series serves as the centerpiece for a continuing fundraising drive for the scholarship fund, which honors the legacy of Wehmiller, a Berklee graduate (‘92) and highly accomplished bassist, athlete, and photographer who died of thyroid cancer in January 2005.
“We are so grateful for the loyalty and kindness of everyone involved, including the crew, musicians, audience, donors and sponsors,” says WesFest producer Stacey Ferguson. “The fact that everyone pulled together for the ninth year in a row to build another successful event just shows how dedicated we are to keeping Wes’ spirit thriving and helping more bass students realize their dream of blessing the world with their talent.”
The WesFest 9 concert was headlined by one of the world’s most respected musicians and educators, three-time Grammy Award winner John Patitucci, and offered a rare opportunity for fans as he returned to Los Angeles to play for the first time in four years. He was accompanied by John Beasley (Miles Davis, Chaka Khan), who was a regular member of the John Patitucci Group between 1987 and 2000, as well as young drumming phenom Jonathan Pinson (Herbie Hancock). The headlining set also featured a very special guest performance by renowned bassist Steve Bailey (Jethro Tull, Willie Nelson) who is also the new Chair of Berklee’s Bass Department.
“The level of commitment, both in LA and Berklee Boston, that led us up to the event was nothing short of amazing,” says Bailey. “The spirit that I felt from ALL involved, before, during, and after the event was also huge. That so many people can join together – bonded by the spirit, love and energy of another who was strongly felt and heard to do wonderful things for all – it doesn’t get any better!”
In a long-standing WesFest concert tradition, the 2013 Wehmiller Scholarship winner performed at WesFest 9. Bassist Max McKellar showed the standing-room only venue exactly what they were supporting, laying down heavy grooves with Danny Mo & The Exciters, a band of mostly Berklee graduates featuring legendary drummer John “JR” Robinson (Michael Jackson, Chaka Khan, Madonna, Eric Clapton), as well as singer/songwriter Kira Small (Peter Frampton, Martina McBride) on lead vocals. The band was led by Wehmiller’s Berklee Bass Professor and close friend Danny Morris. Danny plays a key role in selecting the scholarship winner, and is central to the WesFest community both in Boston and Los Angeles.
“Working with the scholarship recipient is a joy beyond description says Danny. “ It’s as though Wes and I are teaching, grooving, and mentoring together. To watch the scholarship recipient grow from the LA trip is real special and this year was no exception. Max McKellar plays a variety of music styles well, and adds his unique vibe to each and every performance. He knows how to contribute with beauty and grace a foundation replete with verve and soulfulness. Listening to Max and JR was a trip. The rhythm section bass and drum pocket was deep and the audience felt the heaviness of the music at the Baked Potato. It was a powerful show!”
Other performers at WesFest 9 included many musicians who knew and worked with Wes during his twelve years in Los Angeles, including bandleader Joe Travers (Zappa Plays Zappa), Griff Peters, Colin Keenan, Dorian Heartsong and first-time WesFest guitarist Yogi Lonich.
For additional biographical information on Wes Wehmiller, WesFest, and all related merchandise, please visit the official Tribute To Wes Wehmiller Website at www.weswehmiller.net. For more information on the scholarship, or to find out how to contribute to the fund, please contact Peter Gordon at (818) 380-3041, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let the WesFest 10 planning season begin!! Keep watching this space for information to start popping up and we’ll see you next year!