Close this search box.

Stay up to date

Subscribe to our weekly
e-newsletter for news and updates

Advertise with us


Review by: Colette Imison Photography: Jason Rosewarne

The Melbourne music scene’s social media pages were on fire yesterday anticipating the evenings show at St Kilda’s Memo Music Hall.  The talk of the town was all about who was catching Victor Wooten and The Wooten Brothers performing their opening show for their upcoming Australian Tour.

The opening act for the evening was soul and blues duo ‘The McNaMarr Project’, featuring Andrea Marr on vocals and John McNamara on guitar. Having formed in 2018 and winning Blues Performer of the Year Award that same year, ‘The McNaMarr Project’ eased us all into the evening by warming the audience in a most enjoyable musical experience full of quality RnB and blues music.

Promoter Gerrard Allman brought founding member of Béla Fleck and The Flecktones and Five Time Grammy Award Winner Victor Wooten and his brothers together for the first time on our shores and those in attendance knew we were all in for something quite remarkable.

Renowned electric bass virtuoso Victor Wooten was voted by Rolling Stone magazine in 2011 as the 10th Top Bassist of All Time. Joining Victor were his brothers Joseph (Keys/Vocals), Roy/Future Man (Percussion/Vocals) and Regi (who handed Victor a bass guitar when he was only two). The family of brothers who started playing together when they were merely kids, have stayed together and play as a single unit, bouncing off each in a way that can only do when you understand and know each other’s musicality inside out.

With over five decades making their mark in the music industry, the brothers have mastered techniques to the extent that they have developed a range of their own signature techniques, which honestly must be witnessed live to fully absorb. In truth, what they do simply cannot be explained in words.

With Victor being such a technically accomplished bassist and solo artist, it’s made him one of the most sought after session guys in the world, collaborating with the likes of Bootsy Collins, India Arie, Keb’Mo, Dave Matthews Band, Jaco Pastorius, Cory Wong and our very own Tommy Emmanuel.

The mind-blowing talent that is Joseph Wooten has found him being a backing vocalist and keyboardist with The Steve Miller Band since 1993. Their insanely talented genetics don’t stop there. Energy fuelled drummer Roy (Future Man) was also a member of Béla Fleck and The Flecktones. Victor stated that many in the industry question whether he is in fact a drummer, as his talent goes way further than drumming. Unsurprisingly he is also known for inventing a couple of next level instruments such as the Drumitar and most recently his RoyEl Keyboard.

Then there comes Regi, who is referred to as ‘The Teacha’ amongst his brothers and given that he was the one that was responsible for teaching his brothers all there was to learn about music in their younger years, the moniker comes as no revelation. As a multi-instrumentalist, Regi is best known for his guitar skills, where he combines some insanely complex strumming techniques together with chording, slapping, picking and two handed tapping.

A fusion of funk, RnB, jazz, rock and bluegrass, in their early days the brothers were influenced by the likes of James Brown, Earth Wind and Fire and Sly and The Family Stone and they certainly laid it all down tonight at The Memo and so much more.

Walking onto the stage welcomed by a huge cheer The Wooten’s warmed up their instruments with an instrumental intro, before kicking off the show with the super funky Joseph Wooten tracks ‘Not Just Religion’ following it up with ‘Unity’ which are both found on his ‘Soul of Freedom’ album.

Although relatively hidden behind his keys, Joseph’s high powered and creative arrangements found the audience marvelling at the speed and gusto delivered when he plays.  With soulful vocals, heavy bass sounds and a ripper guitar solo from Regi, the brothers drew the audience straight in from the get go.

Future Man followed it up with a solo intro that oozed with jazz before diving into ‘2 Timers’.  This was followed up with a serious mash up of jazz and rock where Victor introduces his family one by one, opening up the gate for each player to showcase what they were all about. Throughout the show Victor Wooten spoke of the years of experience the brothers shared together and individually.  He thanked the crowd for welcoming them to Australia and stated that he was glad to be back here, only this time round sharing it with his brothers. Victor briefly spoke of their late brother saxophonist Rudy Wooten, who crossed over in 2010. Victor expressed that although their brother was no longer physically with them all, his presence will always be with them and shared that Rudy was with them on stage in spirit today and always.

The banter continued with Victor chatting about Consuela Lee who was filmmaker Spike Lee’s aunt. With Spike being the son of bassist Bill Lee, you sensed that Wooten relates to a connection of music through family and the requirement to encourage the arts for today’s youth as found at his ‘Victor Wooten Centre for Music and Nature’.

Similarly Spike’s aunt Consuela Lee was a jazz pianist who instigated the requirement to bring music into the lives of children living in rural towns. This found her re-establishing the Snow Hill Institute (founded by her late grandfather William J. Edward) into an Institute for Performing Arts where a few hundred children from rural towns benefited from music and arts.  Honourably, Wooten’s nod to this lady of purpose came in the form of the instrumentally fuelled track ‘Consuela Smiles’.

There were quite a few stand out moments throughout the evening, one being when Victor played one note at a time, building it up slowly on his loop pedal.  At first we didn’t know where he was leading us, but soon it was clear when he amped up the funk and they belted out Béla Fleck and The Flecktones ‘Sex in The Pan’ before switching to a jazz fusion rendition of Victor’s very own ‘Liz and Opie’.

Quite a storyteller with a mass of tales to share, Victor relayed a story about a fella who happened to have been handed a Wooten Brothers demo tape from the 70’s.  This demo was handed to the man by the brothers very own mother. As the story goes, the gentleman was considering selling the demo to cover the medical expenses of a family member. Respectfully the man thought it be best that his first point of contact be the Wooten’s themselves.  Needless to say they bought the demo tape off him after listening to it. As explained, the demo tape took them down memory lane and brought back memories of their late brother Rudy who played two sax’s simultaneously.

Informing the audience that they were working on a new album which will include new tracks and revised versions of a few tracks found on the demo tape, they treated us to a sampler.

I’m fairly certain that if it weren’t for the tables laid out in the Memo Hall, we would’ve all been up and dancing. It was like diving into a 70’s disco funk time machine, where each of the three songs found a strong emphasis on dance. Victor stated he couldn’t remember the titles of the songs, but the lyrics spoke for themselves in ‘C’mon Let’s Dance’, ‘Get Down’ and ‘What We Like to Do’.

Sensing that the show was coming to a close, Joseph led into the next section. Bringing the high energy down considerably, gasps and sighs were heard when the realisation set in that Joseph was serving us the most divine version of Elton John’s ‘Your Song’.  It was just him on his keys and his sublime soulful vocals.

As if that wasn’t soulful enough, the emotional musical rollercoaster ride brought me down to earth and found me shed a tear when Joseph linked in Stevie Wonders ‘My Cherie Amour’.  Given the list of artists that inspired these men as kids, like many there I’m confident in stating that Stevie Wonder was without a doubt an inspiration to Joseph, who took this track to a higher ground indeed, particularly on his keys.

Many in the space have witnessed many performances in their time. Plainly stated, the Wooten’s performance not only exposed us all to techniques few have ever witnessed, but it overwhelmed our visual and auditory senses too.

They ending the evening saluting the Godfather of Soul himself in an ultra-funked up cover version of ‘Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine. With everybody encouraged to sing along, we all repeated “I Feel Alright” – Which is exactly how we felt by the end of the show.

Asking his brothers to hit it on the one and two… even a two and a quarter, found Joseph lead the charge before handing it over to Victor. Victor then led them all with a call out of the time signature 11/8 in the Key of E-minor. Insanely these guys HIT IT ON POINT! Victor continues with 1/2/3/4, climbing up to 7/8/9 and up to the 11 again. Again they did not miss a beat!

Just when you thought it was just about over, Victor unpacked some astonishing slapping, popping and double-thumping of his bass guitar. victor then straddled up to Regi. They face each other and raise their guitars to chest level, before reaching over to each other’s instrument of choice.  This in turn found Regi tapping at Victor’s bass and Victor plugging away at Regi’s guitar.

We didn’t know whether to cheer, scream or sit there in silence taking the masterclass in. Mind-blowingly these guys can hit any time signature at any given time, which they always executed to perfection. With a standing ovation from us all, the chatter in the foyer found many skilled musicians at the end of the show in total awe of what they just witnessed. Victor Wooten and The Wooten Brothers gave us a performance that was incomparable to anything I’ve ever seen.

I couldn’t recommend catching these guys more. There are still a few tickets left for tonight’s show at the Memo Hall, before they embark on the next leg of their Australian Tour. Fortunate for Melburnians, they’ll be ending the tour back here at the ‘Night Cat’ in Fitzroy on June 2nd. I don’t even have to think twice about going in for round two witnessing these crazy talented cats.


Not Just Religion (J.Wooten)
Unity (J.Wooten)
2 Timers
(Band Intros)
Consuela Smiles
(Bass Delay Solo)
Sex in A Pan (Béla Fleck and The Flecktones) & Liz and Opie (V.Wooten)
C’mon Let’s Dance
Get Down
What We Like To Do
Your Song (Elton John cover) /My Cherie Amour (Stevie Wonder cover)
Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine (James Brown cover)


25 MAY – MEMO MUSIC HALL (with The McNaMarr Project) – St Kilda

26 MAY – THE GOV (with Brian Ruiz) – Adelaide

27 MAY – FREO SOCIAL (with Dave Brewer Trio) – Fremantle

30 MAY – MANNING BAR (with Frank Sultana) – Sydney

31 MAY – LIZOTTES (with Frank Sultana) – Newcastle [SOLD OUT]

01 JUN – PRINCESS THEATRE (with Blues Arcadia) – Brisbane

02 JUN – NIGHT CAT (The McNaMarr Project) – Fitzroy


Share this