Bass Phenom Headlines Scholarship Benefit, Feb. 28

By
Peter Gordon
January 25, 2010
Tal Wilkenfeld

Australian native and bass phenomenon Tal Wilkenfeld, one of the fastest rising stars in the world of music today, will headline WesFest 5: A Concert to Benefit the Wes Wehmiller Endowed Scholarship at Berklee College of Music at the Roxy in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 28, 2010.

"We couldn't be prouder to have someone of Tal's incredible talent and presence headlining our fifth WesFest event," said Peter Gordon, director of the Berklee Center in Los Angeles. "She truly encompasses the musical excellence that Wes embodied in his own playing, and we're extremely grateful to her for giving us the potential to grow the WesFest community larger than ever before."

The scholarship fund honors Wes Wehmiller (1971–2005), a Berklee graduate ('92) and highly accomplished bassist, athlete, and photographer who died of thyroid cancer in January 2005. Established by his family and friends, the Wes Wehmiller Endowed 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 has raised more than $50,000 for the fund to date, and this fifth annual concert is the centerpiece of an annual fundraising drive for the scholarship fund.

WesFest 5's headliner, Tal Wilkenfeld, came to prominence as the handpicked touring bassist for guitar legend Jeff Beck, famously blowing away a 45,000-strong crowd at the Crossroads Festival in 2007 with just one solo in Beck's set. Her debut solo album, Transformation, was hailed as a new star's arrival. Bass Player magazine said, "Wilkenfeld displays a writing depth and musical presence to complement the buzz about her dynamic-yet-discerning bass approach...make no mistake, this lass is poised to soar." Not yet 25, Wilkenfeld has already played with Eric Clapton, Joss Stone, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, Corinne Bailey Rae, Wayne Krantz, Robben Ford, Russell Ferrante, Kenwood Dennard, Hiram Bullock, the Allman Brothers Band, and more. Most recently she was seen with Jeff Beck on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary HBO television special. Rarely has a star risen so quickly for any musician, but Tal Wilkenfeld is a very rare talent.

The event will feature four additional acts: New York bassist/singer/songwriter John Montagna (performing solo); Los Angeles singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joe Brooks; the WesFest All-Stars (featuring the music of Tamara Silvera, Mike Keneally, Kira Small, Ali Handal, and the return of Wes's original rock band, I, Claudius); and Danny Mo and the Exciters, featuring Wehmiller's Berklee bass professor and close friend Danny Morris, as well as 2009 Wehmiller scholarship award winner Justin Schornstein and a band of all Berklee graduates, including guitarist Kristian H, vocalists Theresa Flaminio and Melinda, saxophonist Scott Gilman, and Zappa Plays Zappa band drummer Joe Travers.

From 1997 through 2001, Wehmiller toured worldwide with the multi-platinum pop band Duran Duran, and appeared on many TV shows with them, as well, including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Today Show, VH-1's Storytellers, and Hard Rock Live. He performed with Missing Persons and several other L.A.-based bands, and his work appears on numerous recordings produced in the L.A. area and in Vancouver. He gained endorsement deals with SWR bass amplification systems and La Bella Strings.

WesFest 5 advance tickets are available through February 25 for $35/pair or $20/ticket. Tickets are $30 at the door. Ticket orders and donations will be accepted via check or credit card. Complete ordering instructions can be found at weswehmiller.net/wesfest5.

For any questions about ordering tickets or donating to the fundraising drive, contact Peter Gordon at 818 380-3041 or pgordon@berklee.edu. For additional biographical information on Wes Wehmiller, and more information on the WesFest concert series, as well as new details about WesFest 5 as they become available, visit the official Tribute to Wes Wehmiller website at weswehmiller.net.