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.