Tal Wilkenfeld Headlines WesFest 5 By Peter Gordon
The Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood was the site of WesFest 5, the fifth annual fundraising concert to benefit the Wes Wehmiller Memorial Endowed Scholarship. In terms of tickets sold, corporate support, and money raised, this year's event was a huge success and reached new heights. Thanks in part to the support of Fender Music, Mike Lull Guitars, D'Addario, EBS Sweden AB, Drum Workshop, S.I.R., and Lurssen Mastering, the event raised more than $20,000.
Approximately 400 people packed the Roxy to hear an evening of great music by bass phenom Tal Wilkenfeld and her band featuring drummer Vinnie Colaiuta '75, guitarist Oz Noy, and keyboardist John Beasley. The band is simply amazing, and more than one audience member compared Wilkenfeld's talents with those of the late Jaco Pastorius.
Danny Mo & the Exciters performed a groove-heavy set that filled the room with the spirit of Wehmiller. Led by Bass Professor Danny Morris, the group featured 2009 Wes Wehmiller Scholarship recipient Justin Schornstein on bass, along with an all-star alumni lineup that included vocalists Major Johnson-Finley '06, Theresa Flaminio '08, Samantha Gums '08, Emily Elbert '11, and Melinda Colaizzi '04, former Wehmiller Scholarship recipient Claire Finley '08 also on vocals, sax player Scott Gilman '80, guitarists Kristian H '05, and Ben Thompson '08, and Zappa Plays Zappa drummer Joe Travers '91.
The WesFest All-Stars once again honored Wehmiller's memory with diverse musical performances from alumni Colin Keenan '93, Kira Small '93, Griff Peters '93, and veteran WesFest producer Bryan Beller '92. John Montagna '94 opened the show as a solo act, setting the stage for a great evening.
The scholarship fund honors Wes Wehmiller (1971-2005), and 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. To learn more about Wehmiller, the scholarship and WesFest, go to: http://weswehmiller.net.
Photos: John Wehmiller 1. WesFest 5 headliner bassist Tal Wilkenfeld and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta 2. Danny Mo and the Exciters (from the left): Claire Finley, Scott Gilman, Kristian H, Danny Mo, and Melinda Colaizzi