The numbers are in and we did it! WesFest 6 raised just over $20,000 for the Wes Wehmiller Scholarship fund at Berklee College of Music. Here’s the latest press release:
WESFEST 6 BENEFIT CONCERT RAISES ANOTHER $20,000
FOR WES WEHMILLER SCHOLARSHIP FUND
AT BERKLEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC
6th annual event continues tradition of musical excellence
and fundraising success
BOSTON (March 24, 2010) — WesFest 6, the sixth annual WesFest benefit concert, took place at The Roxy in Los Angeles on February 27, 2011. For the third consecutive year, the event and related fundraising drive raised more than $20,000 for the Wes Wehmiller Endowed Scholarship Fund at Berklee College of Music. The total amount generated by WesFest since its inception in 2006 has now exceeded $90,000, and is projected to top $100,000 in 2012.
Officially supported this year by corporate sponsors Mike Lull Custom Basses and D’Addario, the WesFest concert series has established the Wes Wehmiller Scholarship as one of the leading awards given by 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.
The WesFest 6 concert was headlined by fusion supergroup PSP, comprised of drummer Simon Phillips, keyboardist Philippe Saisse, and bassist Pino Palladino. The show marked PSP’s live Southern California debut. It also brought a special energy to the event, as Palladino was often cited by Wehmiller himself as his most important musical influence. “For those of us who really knew Wes and loved his extremely fluid, soulful playing style,” remarked WesFest co-producer Bryan Beller, “it was like going straight to the energy source. We all stood in awe watching Pino do his thing, and the whole WesFest community got a much deeper appreciation for why Wes’ playing was so special.” Peter Gordon, Director of The Berklee Center in Los Angeles, agreed. “With economic challenges all around us, it’s truly impressive that WesFest continues to succeed each year. Having Pino onstage to close the concert was especially poignant and left a very real sense that Wes was ‘in the house.’”
In a long-standing WesFest concert tradition, the 2010 Wehmiller Scholarship winner performed at WesFest 6. Bassist Joshua Tyson of East Orange, NJ brought a deep sense of groove to the show, anchoring a band of mostly Berklee graduates led by Wehmiller’s Berklee Bass Professor and close friend Danny Morris. Morris is instrumental in selecting the scholarship winner, and leads a separate annual concert event in Boston to grow further awareness of the scholarship among the Berklee student body.
“One of the great pleasures in preparing for WesFest each year is the rehearsal the day prior,” says Morris. “It’s there that I truly witness the musicianship and personality of the scholarship recipient. Joshua Tyson understands ebb and flow, how to take the listener on a musical journey, and his set ending solo gave the audience a taste of his groove, originality, soul, and rhythmic beauty.”
Other performers at WesFest 6 included many musicians who knew and worked with Wes during his twelve years in Los Angeles: The Rick Musallam Group (a debut performance by one of Wes’ close friends), Gryphon Labs (led by Zappa Plays Zappa bassist Pete Griffin), and WesFest veterans Tamara Silvera, Ali Handal, and Colin Keenan.
WesFest co-producer Stacey Ferguson affirmed the event’s impact. “As we continue to honor Wes through this scholarship, seeing the family of recipients grow and find success makes it undeniable that this is making a big difference in these students’ lives. We’re extremely grateful for the support we’ve received through the years from the performers, donors, and attendees of WesFest.”
All WesFest related merchandise – which includes two concert DVDs, the I, Claudius CD Bleed: The Wes Demos, and Wicked: Music From The WesFest Community – are available for purchase at http://weswehmiller.net/wesfest, with net proceeds also going to benefit the fund. 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, Director of the Berklee Center in Los Angeles, at (818) 380-3041, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Berklee College of Music was founded on the revolutionary principle that the best way to prepare students for careers in music was through the study and practice of contemporary music. For over 60 years, the college has evolved constantly to reflect the state of the art of music and the music business. With over a dozen performance and nonperformance majors, a diverse and talented student body representing over 70 countries, and a music industry “who’s who” of alumni, Berklee is the world’s premier learning lab for the music of today – and tomorrow.
A Concert to Benefit the Wes Wehmiller Scholarship at
Berklee College Of Music
R.M.G. – Rick Musallam Group
Danny Mo and the Exciters
* featuring 2010 Wes Wehmiller Scholarship Award Winner Joshua Tyson
and The WesFest All-Stars
* featuring music by Ali Handal, Colin Keenan and Tamara Silvera
Sunday, February 27, 2011
9009 West Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
TO DONATE BY CREDIT CARD ONLINE:
and complete the form.
TO DONATE BY CHECK:
Send a check made out to Berklee College of Music, along with your return mailing address, to:
Berklee College of Music
15303 Ventura Blvd. Suite 931
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
Attn: WesFest 6
NOTE: Please include “WesFest 6″ in the memo field.
More Info About The Band Lineup For WesFest 6:
PSP is one of those ubiquitous musical fusions and synergies that defy categorization. The collaborative talents of this trio of extraordinarily gifted musicians have virtually traversed around the world and in all genres. They’ve collectively performed with the crème de la crème of contemporary pop music over the past several decades, including The Rolling Stones, The Who, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Toto, David Bowie, John Mayer, Chaka Khan, and Paul Simon, and that’s just a few icons from a mind-boggling list that is just too extensive to mention.
The PSP collective of surnames includes a frenetic Brit, an intense Frenchman, and a mellow native from Wales, which are drummer Simon Phillips, keyboard/pianist, Philippe Saisse, and bassist Pino Palladino. Together, they’ve known and shared a mutual respect for each other for most of their careers, but have rarely worked together, and never all at the same time. About a year ago, Saisse relocated to Los Angeles, and renewed his longtime friendship with Phillips, and also started writing and producing his recently released solo recording project, At World’s Edge (March 2009, E1 Entertainment). Saisse recorded the lion share of his project at Phillips Phantom Recording Studios in the San Fernando Valley, where he’s been sharing space with Phillips. While recording his album, Saisse enlisted Phillips and Palladino to perform on the track, “Monday Afternoon,” which became the lead single for Saisse’s record. It was that collaboration, which sparked the idea of incarnating the trio into a full-fledged working unit.
In the fall of 2008, an opportunity arose for the trio to perform a series of dates at Billboard Live clubs in Osaka and Tokyo, Japan. Individually, they all have established their own notoriety in Japan, so even though they had never performed live together, they committed to dates. In November, they we were able to squeeze in one day of rehearsal in LA. Fortunately, Palladino (based in London) happened to be on LA touring with The Who, and met up with the guys on his day off.
At the end of January, the three met up in Osaka, and managed one additional rehearsal. The next day they came up with the moniker PSP, had a sound check, and that night debuted live for the first time ever. They followed up Osaka with two nights at Billboard Live in Tokyo, and after six nearly spontaneous shows, PSP was born. “I’ve always had such tremendous respect and admiration for Simon and Pino as musicians, so playing with them in this trio is a dream come true for me,” admitted Saisse. “We discovered that we have an incredible synergy, and really compliment each other as live musicians,” added Phillips.
Those eponymous live performances were all recorded, so while the adrenaline was still pumping in their veins, Phillips and Saisse immediately started mixing the live recordings upon their return to Los Angeles. The impressive results are featured on their debut CD, PSP LIVE, which was initially released in Europe in early November 2009 by C.A.R.E. Music Group, an independent label based in Munich, Germany. The CD release was supported by a highly successful four-week European concert/club tour last November, which included dates in Germany, France, England, Holland, Belgium, and Switzerland.
PSP LIVE showcases eight tracks that aptly display the trio’s wealth and diverse musicality, with ample dosages of jazz, funk, fusion, and rock/pop that are embodied in a mix of original songs penned by each member. The CD was also released in Japan by And Forest Music last February, and was supported by a 9-city club tour from February 18 – 28, 2010.
The trio will also continue to pursue their solo endeavors as well, and will be working on a new recording project of all new original material this year. Phillips has already completed tours featuring his own band in Japan, Indonesia, and Europe over the past two years, and is working on his next solo record as well. Saisse kicked off 2010 with his first ever Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Jazz Album, for his most recent solo effort, At World’s Edge. The CD was also nominated in the same category for the ASCAP Awards. He also produced and performed on a concept record, “Rendez Vous In Paris,” a collection of classic French songs retooled and featuring French singer Jasmine Roy, Al Jarreau, Rick Braun, Marc Antoine, among others, that was released last year by Sony/Japan and by Warner Bros. in France, and several other European territories. Palladino, who did recent tours with The Who and The John Mayer Trio, continues to work with Mayer on various projects, and remains to be one of the most sought after session players in the UK.
The international rooted ensemble are intent on making PSP stick. “We realized after our live gigs together, that what we’re doing musically feels pretty special, “ attests Palladino, “so we’re committed and excited about seeing how far we can take it.”
Somewhere in the sonic universe there’s a place where the auditory wizardry of Pink Floyd and Brian Eno intersects with the progressive groove consciousness of Funkadelic and Massive Attack and the experimental, virtuosic extremities of The Mars Volta and Tool. Gryphon Labs begins there, taking those influences and a myriad of others and putting them through an instrumental filter, resulting in an exciting new fusion of rock, electronica, world music, and the improvisatory elements of jazz. But rather than relying on long solos to maintain the listener’s interest, the song arrangements themselves become a soundtrack, a journey through many dynamics and emotions all in the time span of a radio-length pop song.
Gryphon Labs began as the creation of bassist/composer Pete Griffin. He found himself needing a band to perform and record songs he had been writing when he wasn’t onstage somewhere on the planet with different acts ranging from pop-rock brother band Hanson, to legendary classic rock icon Edgar Winter, to genre-defying Zappa Plays Zappa, Dweezil Zappa’s presentation of his father’s music. He recruited fellow Zappa Plays Zappa members Joe Travers (drums) and Jamie Kime (guitar), and began recording with producer Roger Cole. Cole’s long career had recently included producing several records by southern groove rock pioneers Little Feat, and soon Richie Hayward (drums) and Paul Barrere had made contributions to the Gryphon Labs sound. In 2007 Gryphon Labs began performing regularly in the Los Angeles area with the core band of Griffin, Travers, and Kime, with guest appearances from Barrere as well as fellow Zappa Plays Zappa members Scheila Gonzalez and Aaron Arntz and many others.
Born in Beirut, Lebanon and now residing in Los Angeles, Rick Musallam is a guitarist, songwriter and producer whose influences span a worldwide scope of rock, funk, jazz and fusion. Known for his attention to sonic detail and his ability to deliver both simple and complex parts with a deep soulfulness, Rick has played and recorded with The Mike Keneally Band, Bryan Beller, Janet Robin, Bird York, Gwen Stefani, The Roots, T-Connection, Gryphon Labs and Ben Taylor, among others. He’s also performed at every WesFest concert.
Rick’s new band is called RMG (Rick Musallam Group) and will be premiering at WesFest this year. Described as “a cool mixture of rock and funk, and sometimes improvisational,” his band consists of long time friends and colleagues from Gryphon Labs and Zappa Plays Zappa, including Joe Travers on drums, Pete Griffin on bass, Jaime Kime on guitar, and Bill Steinway on keyboards.
Danny Mo & The Exciters
An annual tradition at WesFest, Danny Mo & The Exciters is a group led by Wehmiller’s former bass professor and close friend Danny Morris, and features the winner of the year’s Wehmiller Scholarship Award on bass. This year’s deserving winner, Joshua Tyson, is a sophomore from New Jersey, and Danny has plenty to say about him:
“Joshua Tyson has a gift. Wes Wehmiller had a similar gift. The gift I’m speaking of is a talent, a groove, and a musicianship skill set enabling the bass player a keen sense for playing what works to compliment the groove of the song. This bassist knows when and when not to sound. This bassist knows when and when not to lead. This gift has as much to do with the dynamics of conversation as it does with technical prowess. Of course, the gifted bassist has all things in balance. This is what best describes the 2010 Wes Wehmiller Scholarship recipient, Joshua Tyson. I am so excited to perform again with Joshua in L.A. in February at WesFest 6.
“It takes a special gift to entertain, to entrain the listener into a zone of comfort and intrigue. Each year the scholarship recipients and their bands continue to shine and embrace what Wes Wehmiller was all about. In a nutshell, it was about aesthetic. The beauty that comes with art at its highest level during live performance. This is a milieu where everyone is at home, at peace and content to listen and praise the spirit of music and harmony.”
The WesFest All-Stars
Carrying on the spirit of gathering and celebration of Wes’ life, the WesFest All-Stars are a diverse collection of WesFest veteran performers who were not just friends of Wes, but also played and recorded music with him throughout the years. The acts inside this “community” band are singer songwriter and a vocal/performance coach Tamara Silvera, guitar-driven singer/songwriter Ali Handal, soul/R&B singer/songwriter/keyboardist Kira Small, and longtime Wes compatriot Colin Keenan. The WesFest All-Star house band consists of Rick Musallam and Mike Olekshy on guitar, Bryan Beller on bass, and Joe Travers and Nicholas De Gauljac on drums.
More Info About The WesFest All-Stars:
This award-winning singer/songwriter has rocked solo and full band live shows on stages from Los Angeles to Japan. LIVE! Magazine said about Ali: “I don’t mean she’s a good guitarist a la folk singer Jewel, or ‘she’s good for a girl.’ I mean she’s a kick-ass guitarist, electric and acoustic, a la Chrissie Hynde meets Ani Difranco meets Prince.”
Ali’s recorded work reaches even further. Songs from her first two albums have aired on national and international radio, on airplanes (Northwest/KLM), at pop concerts in South Africa (Ali’s song “While You’re Here” was recorded by a South African TV star), as well as in film and TV shows such as Sex in the City, Joan of Arcadia, Dawson’s Creek, and other shows on MTV, VH-1, and more.
Music Connection Magazine said it best: “[Ali Handal is] Earthy, natural, real and loaded with talent…a singer/songwriter with something to say…a gifted artist who brings insight and intelligence to her art.”
Canadian born singer-songwriter Tamara Silvera’s songs seem deceptively simple – slightly weird pop songs with well placed hooks – but they increase in depth and intensity with repeated listening. Songs from her debut solo album appeared in Buffy The Vampire Slayer and The Ghost Whisperer.
Her second solo release Departures, produced by Grammy award-winner John Whynot, is a collection of songs that chronicle loss, change and personal evolution. It’s also one of the last known works to include Wes Wehmiller on bass. “It was really hard to go back to work on the songs. It took us months to even put the tracks up and give them a listen. Wes has such a powerful presence…we found ourselves really choked up. We just had to keep chipping away. Eventually we got to the place where we could let it go.”
Silvera has lived in Los Angeles since 1989. She writes and records her songs, performs live solo shows, and is a busy vocal coach.
One of Wes’ oldest friends, Colin Keenan was the lead singer and lyricist for their original rock band, I, Claudius. Ever the iconoclast, Keenan has completed nearly five albums of his own original material, but since it’s not available to the public (which is just as Keenan prefers it), pretty much the only time you can hear what it sounds like is at a WesFest concert event.