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The Wootens Bring Their Family Reunion To Chicago

By Katie Karpowicz in Arts & Entertainment on Dec 16, 2013 5:00PM

Having the opportunity to see one Wooten brother is a treat but seeing all four living members of the family on stage together? That's golden.

Victor, Roy, Joseph and Regi Wooten perform at Reggie's next Tuesday, Dec. 17. While all four brothers have enjoyed extensive solo success, it's been years since they toured together, which brings a "family reunion" vibe to the stage each night.

When Victor and Roy (also known as Future Man) dialed up Chicagoist last week, they were stranded in a North Carolina storm. The two don't seem too thrown off by the fact that the show that night has been cancelled due to the weather. After more than half a century of touring between the two of them, it's not the first weather delay they've had to endure.

Victor Wooten has long been referred to as a virtuoso on a bass guitar. He and brother Roy are founding members of Bela Fleck's jazzy bluegrass group The Flecktones but their accomplishments don't stop there. Recently, Roy—a percussionist most famous for his percussion keyboards—has been working on orchestral compositions and scoring the soundtrack to an upcoming film project (details of which will soon be available on his website). Victor tours the country as a solo artist and band leader when he's not jamming with the Flecktones. His Center for Music and Nature camps teach a growing number of young musicians every year.

Victor and Roy Wooten's brother Joseph is the family's keyboard master and has spent most of his time touring with the Steve Miller Band over the last 20 years. Regi Wooten continues to teach and play guitar in Nashville.

It's hard to even fathom a family with so much musical talent but Victor has no trouble explaining it when he talks to Chicagoist.

"...everybody is born with talent but not everybody finds it...Our parents fostered [our talent]. When they saw we had an interest they didn't say, 'Oh, that's stupid,' or whatever. They encouraged it and made more room for it. As long as there was a good person behind the talent, they didn't care what that talent was."

This is the Wooten siblings' first tour without their saxophone playing brother Rudi who passed away in 2010.

"This tour feels special because our brother Rudi isn't here," Roy told us. "A lot of this is in his honor. At the end of the night, there are t-shirts with all of us on the front and [Rudi] on the back. Money from the shirts goes to support kids studying music. Some of it's going towards Victor's Music and Nature camps and some of it's going to go towards the W.O. Smith School in Nashville."

"We know he's around somewhere," Victor added.

So what can fans of one or all of the brothers' various musical ventures expect to hear next week? Victor admitted that despite the fact that he "can't even remember" the last time the songs were played live, the Wootens have decided to unearth some tracks from their sole collective recording, 1985's The Wootens. They'll also be playing plenty of popular cover songs from the likes of Steve Wonder, James Brown and the Jackson 5—the same songs they used to jam out to in their parents garage in Virginia.

Roy is excited to get back to a semi-traditional drum kit, an acoustic design he's been dreaming up since high school, while on tour and Victor, along with his siblings, will more than likely continue to play with the same style and grace he's been attracting fans with for decades.

Tickets to the Wootens' show December 17 at Reggie's Rock Club are still on sale, starting at $30 with reserved seating options available for a higher price.