Below is an excerpt from Berklee Today, Berklee’s alumni magazine, about the WesFest benefit concert. I’m honored to have been a part of the event this year, playing with my friends Danny Mo, and bassist Claire Finley, who also happens to be this year’s Wes Wehmiller scholarship recipient.
The Wehmiller Legacy
The third annual WesFest concert was held on February 25 at Paladino’s in Tarzana, CA. The WesFest annual concert is a fundraiser that not only brings together a community of great musicians and friends but also raises money for the Wes Wehmiller Endowed Scholarship at Berklee. The scholarship is awarded each year to a bass player who best exemplifies the unique musicality and spirit of Wehmiller, former bassist for Duran Duran and others. Wehmiller was a remarkable talent, who in 2005 died of thyroid cancer at the age of 33. Each year, many of his friends reconnect to celebrate his memory. Judging by this year’s response at Paladino’s, it seems that WesFest 3 was the best yet.
The music was fantastic, the performers were on top of their game, and the production was impressive. Mother Eff, an all-star ensemble that includes Colin Keenan ’93 and Griff Peters ’93, opened the show and set high expectations for a great evening.
Led by Berklee Professor Danny Morris, Danny Mo and the Exciters featuring the 2007 recipient of the Wes Wehmiller Endowed Scholarship, Claire Finley, performed with Melinda Colaizzi ’04 (vocals), Kristian Habenicht ’05 and Rick Musallam (guitars), and Joe Travers (drums). The set by former Frank Zappa guitarist Mike Keneally was amazing. His band featured bassist Bryan Beller ’92, who produced the event and shared emcee duties with Stacey Ferguson. Kira Small ’93 performed a tight set from her latest CD, Love in a Dangerous World. The music combines southern soul and r&b with a bit of Nashville in the mix. Small’s band featured Dave Cowan ’90 on drums. The headliner, renowned gospel/r&b bassist Andrew Gouche, delivered an inspired closing set, leaving many fellow performers quite content not to have to follow his performance.
With the help of event sponsorships from Epifani Custom Sound, Mike Lull Custom Guitars, Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, and D’Addario & Company, WesFest 3 raised more than $10,000 for the Wes Wehmiller Scholarship fund. WesFest producer Bryan Beller ’92 has already begun planning for WesFest 4, which will take place in early 2009. -Peter Gordon