Brendon Small’s Galaktikon Headlines WesFest

By 
Peter Gordon

WesFest 8, the eighth annual benefit concert in support of the Wes Wehmiller Endowed Scholarship Fund at Berklee was held at the Roxy in Los Angeles on March 3.

The WesFest concert series serves as the centerpiece for a continuing fundraising drive for the scholarship fund honoring the legacy of  Wes Wehmiller ’92, a highly accomplished bassist, athlete, and photographer who died of thyroid cancer in January 2005. For the second year in a row, the WesFest concert and related fundraising drive broke all previous records, raising more than $27,000.

This year’s concert headliner was rock guitarist, composer, actor, and producer Brendon Small ’97, the creative mastermind behind the smash-hit animated [adult swim] TV show Metalocalypse and the metal band Dethklok. WesFest 8 marked the debut performance of Small’s all-star 11-piece band Galaktikon, featuring guitarists Jude Gold (Jefferson Starship, Billy Sheehan), Mike Keneally (Dethklok, Frank Zappa, Joe Satriani), Rick Musallam (Ben Taylor, Carly Simon), and Small himself; bassist Bryan Beller ’92 (Dethklok, Steve Vai ’79, the Aristocrats); and vocalists Ben Thomas (Zappa Plays Zappa), Kira Small ’93 (Peter Frampton, Martina McBride), Ali Handal (Neil Young, Paul Williams) and Jude Crossen ’91 (Patti Austin, Lee Ritenour, Phil Perry).

In typical WesFest tradition, the 2012 Wes Wehmiller Scholarship winner, bassist Jed Lingat, performed onstage with Danny Mo & the Exciters, showing the crowd of more than 300 exactly what they had gathered to support. Lingat laid down heavy grooves alongside legendary drummer John “JR” Robinson ’75 (Michael Jackson, Chaka Khan, Madonna, Eric Clapton). The band was led by Wehmiller’s Berklee bass professor and close friend Danny Morris ’78 (aka Danny Mo) who said, “The Los Angeles experience is unique and cherished every year by the award recipient, and Jed’s bass playing and demeanor are exemplary of the kind of person Wes would have loved and grooved to.”

Other performers at WesFest 8 included alumni Joe Travers ’91 (drummer for Zappa Plays Zappa), guitarist Griff Peters ’93, saxophonist Bob Reynolds ’00, and vocalists Colin Keenan ’93 and Krysta Youngs ’05.

WesFest 8 was memorable not only for its great energy and exciting performances but also for its impressive fundraising results.