Victor Wooten: ‘I wanted to take people on a trip’
As the youngest of five boys, Victor Wooten got not only the well-practiced wisdom of his parents, he had examples of how those teachings should be lived out through his siblings.
The basic message of the l essons constantly emphasized by his parents was simple but far-reaching in scope.
“They were not so concerned with what we did, but they were concerned with who we were as people,” Wooten said. “If what we are and what we did didn’t make us or the people around us better people, they questioned what we were doing.”
Wooten said in a telephone interview that he has lived by those words every day of his life. It informs everything he does from the time he wakes up until the time he goes to sleep every single day.
“One hundred percent,” he said. “If there was a bigger percentage, I would go with that. Our parents preached that every day to the five of us boys, and I saw that my brothers were living it.”
Wooten, who also performs with Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, is known around the world as one of the great bass players of our time. He will bring his trio and a new album’s worth of material to Songbirds Guitar Museum on Friday, Nov. 3, for a soldout show.
In addition to being a great bass player, Wooten is a producer, author, com- poser and educator, teaching music and life lessons to people of all ages at Victor Wooten’s Center for Nature, a 147-acre retreat in Middle Tennessee. He is also an acrobat, magician and naturalist.
The Huffington Post named him one of “50 Iconic Black Trailblazers” in 2017.
Wooten said that being a good musician is part of who he is, but that it allows him to use his skills to benefit others.
“I remember taking the time one afternoon when I was really young tying my shoes or eating or whatever and looking at how it benefits anyone else. My mother would ask, ‘What does the world need with just another good musi- cian? We have plenty. What the world needs is good people.’”
He presented this message to the graduating glass at the University of Vermont Rubenstein School during a commencement speech last year. He gave the speech while also playing the bass.
“That was a lot of fun,” he said. “I’ve never done that. It was challenging, but fun.”
That could also describe “Trypnotyx,” the CD he recorded with drummer Dennis Chambers and saxophone player Bob Franceschini. It also features singer Varijashree Venugopal and comedian/voicetrumentalist Michael Winslow of the Police Academy movies. The album was released Sept. 8.
It is a funky, far-reaching, genre-bending collection of new material.
“As with all my records, I like for them all to be different. I didn’t want people to feel like they’d heard it before. I wanted to make a mind- blowing record and to take people on a trip.”
Victor Wooten will perform a sold-out show Friday at Songbirds Guitar Museum.