The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Wooten Jams Consistently Through 4-Hour Cradle Romp

Victor Wooten
Cat's Cradle

There's no doubt about it -- when it comes to bass guitar, Victor Wooten is king of his world.

The virtuoso and his band performed Tuesday night for a sold-out crowd at the Cat's Cradle, and they were impressive beyond all expectations.

Wooten, the incredible bassist most well-known for his involvement with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, was surrounded by friends and family on stage. His oldest brother, Regi Wooten, played the electric guitar. Nicknamed the Teacher, Regi taught the younger boy bass when Victor was just 2 years old.

Joseph Wooten, the keyboardist, has a fitting nickname as well -- Hands of Soul. However, he was introduced as Explosive Joseph for this show. JD Blair is the sole member of the band outside of the Wooten bloodline. As the drummer for the group, he is known as the Groove Regulator.

Each player is fully deserving of his nickname -- it would be hard to find a more cohesive unit of individually talented musicians.

Tuesday night, they gave the audience what it wanted and then some. The band played a mammoth four-hour set, and each player enjoyed his own lengthy turn in the spotlight.

Several songs into the show, Victor announced the surprise arrival of his good friend Branford Marsalis, to the delight of the ecstatic audience. Although the saxophonist assisted on a few songs only, his presence elevated the atmosphere considerably.

Brother Speech, the original founder of the band Arrested Development, also stopped by -- and his contribution to the show was pivotal. His presence could be felt first when he spun on the turntables, then when he took center stage to sing a few of his own songs.

Instead of simply playing by the numbers, the group obviously had a lot of fun. The different musicians talked, joked and laughed with each other, and almost every song evolved into some sort of extended jam. The level of musicality emanating from each player was immense -- both band and audience thrived on it.

Victor is technically flawless. He slides between styles effortlessly, and he makes even the fastest and most technically challenging playing look like a walk through the park.

By himself, Victor Wooten is amazing. But when joined by his band of brothers, he is unbeatable.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.