(LOS ANGELES, CA) – WesFest 8, the eighth annual WesFest benefit concert, took place at The Roxy in Los Angeles on March 3, 2013. For the second year in a row, the concert and related fundraising drive broke all previous records and raised more than $27,000 for the Wes Wehmiller Endowed Scholarship Fund at Berklee College of Music. The total amount generated by the WesFest initiative since its inception in 2006 has now exceeded $175,000.
Group shot of Galaktikon playing live (L to R: Mike Keneally (gtr), Jude Gold (gtr), Tim Yeung (drums), Brendon Small (gtr/vox), Rick Musallam (gtr), Bryan Beller (bass)
Officially supported this year by corporate sponsors Epiphone Guitars, Gallien-Krueger Amplification, Mike Lull Custom Guitars, D’Addario Strings, DW Drums, and Studio Instrument Rentals, the WesFest concert series has made the Wes Wehmiller Scholarship one of the leading awards for performance majors at Berklee College Of Music. Established by Wes’ family and friends in 2005, the Wes Wehmiller Scholarship 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. The WesFest concert series serves as the centerpiece for a continuing fundraising drive for the scholarship fund, which honors the legacy of Wehmiller, a Berklee graduate (‘92) and highly accomplished bassist, athlete, and photographer who died of thyroid cancer in January, 2005.
“We’re grateful to everyone who donated their time and efforts to make this year’s event an unprecedented success,” says WesFest producer Bryan Beller, “and especially for our sponsors, who had a big hand in making it possible.”
Two lucky fans walked away with a Gallien-Krueger MB500 bass amp, and an Epiphone Thunderhorse Explorer guitar.
Epiphone contest winner (L to R: Stacey Ferguson (event co-producer), Robbin Burton (contest winner), Peter Leinheiser (of Epiphone)
The WesFest 8 concert was headlined by Brendon Small’s Galaktikon, the critically acclaimed side-project led by the creative mastermind behind the smash-hit animated [adult swim] TV show Metalocalypse and the band Dethklok. It was the all-star 11-piece band’s debut live performance, featuring guitarists Jude Gold (Jefferson Starship, Billy Sheehan), Mike Keneally (Dethklok, Frank Zappa, Joe Satriani), Rick Musallam (Ben Taylor, Carly Simon), and Small himself; keyboardist/guitarist Walter Ino; bassist Bryan Beller (Dethklok, Steve Vai, The Aristocrats); and vocalists Ben Thomas (Zappa Plays Zappa), Kira Small (Peter Frampton, Martina McBride), Ali Handal (Neil Young, Paul Williams) and Jude Crossen (Patti Austin, Lee Ritenour, Phil Perry).
Brendon Small – Galaktikon, guitar/vocals
In a long-standing WesFest concert tradition, the 2012 Wehmiller Scholarship winner performed at WesFest 8. Bassist Jed Lingat showed the 300-plus crowd exactly what they were supporting, laying down heavy grooves with Danny Mo & The Exciters, a band of mostly Berklee graduates featuring legendary drummer John “JR” Robinson (Michael Jackson, Chaka Khan, Madonna, Eric Clapton), as well as singer/songwriter Kira Small (Peter Frampton, Martina McBride) on lead vocals. The band was led by Wehmiller’s Berklee Bass Professor and close friend Danny Morris. Danny plays a key role in selecting the scholarship winner, and is central to the WesFest community both in Boston and Los Angeles.
“The LA experience is unique and cherished every year by the award recipient, and Jed’s bass playing and demeanor are exemplary of the kind of person Wes would have loved and grooved to,” says Morris.
“At rehearsal, ‘JR’ gave me the sign of approval acknowledging the deep groove pocket that Jed was cementing in the low end. And the WesFest crowd at the Roxy shared their love with a tremendous ovation to the bass player. Now that got Wes smiling!”
Other performers at WesFest 8 included many musicians who knew and worked with Wes during his twelve years in Los Angeles, including first-time bandleader Joe Travers (drummer for Zappa Plays Zappa), Rick Musallam, Griff Peters, Colin Keenan, Ali Handal, and Janet Robin. WesFest newcomer Derek Frank opened the show with a blistering set of tight, horn-drenched funk.
“It really says something that, for every one of the past eight years we’ve done this, we’ve been able to hit our fundraising goals and increase the size and scope of the WesFest community,” says Peter Gordon, Director of the Berklee Center In Los Angeles.
“This year we’re extremely grateful to Brendon Small, as we are to all of the WesFest 8 performing artists, for helping us reach a whole new realm of awareness for both the event, and for Wes himself.”
For additional biographical information on Wes Wehmiller, WesFest, and all related merchandise, please visit the official Tribute To Wes Wehmiller Website at www.weswehmiller.net. For more information on the scholarship, or to find out how to contribute to the fund, please contact Peter Gordon at (818) 380-3041, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.