MusicMarauders Presents: Bernie Worrell Orchestra & Vital Organ 4.8.13

Quixote's True Blue
Denver, CO

Words By J-man
Photos By Kevin Hahn & J-man
Audio By Corey Sandoval (Kind Recordings)

Does it get any funkier than Bernie Worrell Orchestra & Vital Organ sharing a bill on a Monday? The short answer is no. The long answer offers an explanation of sorts, although many would agree that an explanation is unnecessary. Arriving at Quixote's around 9:00 PM, I found an almost empty venue, as is often the case that early. Both stages were packed with gear, so I headed around back to go through the backstage entrance. Unfortunately, the door was closed and locked. A quick knock on the door and it was opened from inside by the Wizard of Woo himself, Mr. Bernie Worrell! "Justin!" Bernie yelled with a smile on his face, introducing me to his young bandmates who were present. It was good to see a couple of the guys whom I had previously booked with Bernie. Shortly to follow the gentleman from Vital Organ began to turnout and set up. For a short time it was a wild scene backstage.

Vital Organ kicked it off in the front room with raging jazz/funk that moved the crowd. The combination of Garrett Sayers and Joey Porter from The Motet is flawless. Add guitar slayer, Dan Schwindt and drummer Daren Hahn and you have instrumental perfection. The chemistry and level of skill that flows between this quartet may be the best in town. Through funk traditionals from bands like The Meters, the opening hour set from Vital Organ flew buy. Just as they were about to launch into the next song, the house music came up and The Grateful Dead took over on the speakers. Following a touch of confusion, the band announced they'd take a break and return in a bit. Folks headed over to the main room for some additional funk, as the evening's headliner, Bernie Worrell, took over.

Bernie Worrell Orchestra Live at Quixote's True Blue on April 8, 2013.

Setlist: JAM > Woo Together, So Uptight (Move On), BWO Is Landing, Thug, Y-Spy > Super Stupid, (Quixote's) Mothership Connection. Come Together > Take Me To The River, Get Your Hands Off

Encore: JAM > Red Hot Mama

Through Bernie originals, Parliament songs and funky jams, Bernie's Orchestra tore up Quixote's for a sizeable Monday crowd! The band dug deep into the funk pocket creating a grooving platform for Bernie to showcase his otherworldly abilities. Mind-bending melodies collided with familiar childhood riffs, as the band shifted into overdrive. Bernie's characteristic high pitched vocals were featured on several tracks, with the backing vocals complimenting the lead. One of the most noticeable aspects of the band was their tight rhythm section that included bandleader Evan Taylor (Drums), Glen Fittin (Percussion) and Scott Hogan (Bass). The front line of Andrew Kimball (Guitar), Kyle Cadena (Guitar) and Nicole Scorsone (Violin) fit the mold perfectly. Rather than overpowering Bernie, the three gave Bernie a ton of space to maneuver, jumping in with solid timing and musical insight. Definite highlights included "So Uptight," "Y-Spy," "Mothership Connection," "Super Stupid" and "Come Together>Take Me to The River." On a personal level, the overall highlight of the experience came when Bernie glanced over at me from the stage and said "I want to give a special shout out to my brother who brought me to Colorado on several occasions through the years, Mr. Justin Picard over there!" Folks applauded and my heart sank. I immediately headed to the bar for a drink.

Overall Bernie Worrell Orchestra was tight, funky, youthful and energetic! The band did great justice to Bernie's material and the material of some heavy hitters throughout their extended set. Bernie, as always, shined bright and captivated those lucky enough to be in the presence of one of the all time greats. The consolation of it all was that Vital Organ took the stage once again to close the evening. As the evening got later I left the venue knowing that I had a long week ahead of me. As I left, I reflected on how awesome of a night it was. The following Wednesday Garrett filled me in on a funny story from that night. Apparently Bernie came up behind Joey, covered his eyes while he was playing and reached over his shoulder to play along!

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