Music pioneer to jam with local artists
by Jack Deming
Nov 08, 2012 | 3503 views | 1 1 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bernie Worrell at work in his recording studio. The keyboard legend will be
performing in Wilmington on November 15.
Bernie Worrell at work in his recording studio. The keyboard legend will be performing in Wilmington on November 15.
WILMINGTON-Local musicians Jean Chaine and Colby Dix have teamed up with local restaurant owner Chris Jalbert to bring a once-in-a-lifetime experience to Wilmington. On November 15, Bernie Worrell, the pioneer of the Moog synthesizer, and legendary member of Parliament Funkadelic, will join Chaine’s band Fiction Giants in the back corner of Apres Vous for an intimate and unpredictable night of tunes.

Chaine and Dix have been playing at Apres Vous for over a year in different band incarnations and as solo artists. Now Chaine feels it’s time to give back to a community that has embraced his and so many other artists’ music. Chaine saw no other avenue then inviting one of his idols to come play at the restaurant where he feels so at home. “We’ve been doing our thing for a year and a half here and really bringing the people in” said Chaine. “I thought, what can I do for these people that I love so much? What would be a cool thing to bring them?”

So Chaine, who played with Worrell once at the Bottom Line in New York City in the 1990s, sent an email to Worrell, asking him to come have a celebration of music in Wilmington. Lo and behold, Worrell agreed.

Worrell is a living legend, though he refuses to look at it that way. He came from a classically trained musical upbringing that included performing with the Washington Symphony Orchestra at the age of 10, and attending the New England Conservatory of Music. Worrell began his music career as a bandleader for Maxine Brown, and continued in that position as a founding member of Parliament Funkadelic with George Clinton. With P-Funk, Worrell radically took command of pioneering the sound of keyboards and synthesizers, expanding the use and sound of the Moog synthesizer in particular. P-Funk would record many hits co-written by Worrell including “Flashlight,” “Atomic Dog,” and “Cosmic Slop.”

“As far as developing the sound of funk, I didn’t approach it that way,” says Worrell. “They say I’m the pioneer of the Moog, and that I brought it to fruition, but I was just one of the ones selected to spread the word. I’m a player, and a bandleader and I just do what I do, trying to make people happy, and I really didn’t realize I was developing anything.”

Worrell also says that playing with P-Funk was a release from being a classically trained musician, and the regimentation that went along with it. He saw it as an opportunity to marry classical with new sounds.

Worrell didn’t just focus on funk. He took on as many opportunities as he could find, from playing on Talking Heads albums “Speaking in Tongues” and the live epic “Stop Making Sense,” to playing with Les Claypool and Buckethead in Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains. “You have to take an instrument and play it however it fits your fancy,” said Worrell. “I have no labels, it’s just music. Each genre is just a mixture of sound, and the music industry does the labeling, and everyone who plays music comes up with their own music.”

Fiction Giants, whom Worrell will be joining, is Chaine’s band featuring a rotating cast of musicians, with a rotating ensemble of instruments. Dix, the guitarist, says the band can go from two players to seven on any night. “Sometimes there’s a horn player, there can be two guitar players, and sometimes an electronic (drum) kit. There is some improvisation involved, but all the songs at least find where to start from, and start building textures. My desire is to give more space and a more dynamic branch to the band as a whole.”

When Chaine proposed the idea, there wasn’t a moment of hesitation. Jalbert says having musicians play at his establishment was always one of his goals, and there are few opportunities that can top this one. “We’re lucky to have musical talent around us,” said Jalbert. “To me, they’re the artists, I’m not in here trying to have a certain kind of music go down, it’s more like, OK, I’ll find someone talented and let them do what they do.”

For Dix, playing with Worrell is also a way to share and appreciate a legend with his community. “We feel we’re doing something unique and special around here anyway, week to week. We just tried to think of some way to not just make it cool for us as musicians, but for other people too. We’re lucky to have the legend of Bernie, and have the opportunity to bring him and show him to another generation, and bring his musical aura here.”

Since Worrell is playing with a band he’s never met, Chaine has worked meticulously to accommodate Worrell. “I locked myself in my studio and made 48 charts for all the pieces,” said Chaine. “I have one of the keyboards he’s going to use and I went through all the sounds, wrote down all those that were interesting, and then went back to the songs and assigned the sounds to different pieces. So when I put the chart in front of Bernie, he’s got a place to start from.”

While it’s essential work for Chaine in order for the show to work, he still feels humbled by the opportunity. “I feel so presumptuous even to try suggesting to him what to do.”

The show is on Thursday, November 15, and will be broken up into two sessions, with an 8 to 10 pm show for those of all ages and a 10 to 12 pm show to follow. Each show is $25, and tickets can be purchased at Apres Vous at 19 South Main Street in Wilmington, or reserved at (802) 464-3455.

For Dix, playing with and seeing Worrell is witnessing history. “It’s a legacy that’s incredible. The thing is, our time on this planet is limited, and history will show his legacy is incredibly far-reaching.”
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Carl Swanson
November 09, 2012
Very exciting! We want the funk, give us the funk!!!

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