In his six-decade career, Bernie Worrell has spread WOO - his musical "World of Originality" - far and wide. But despite reaching millions with his work in the original Parliament/Funkadelic, as a solo artist and with numerous noteworthy side bands, he hasn't lost sight of the world around him. In order to foster musical interest and achievement, Worrell founded "World of Originality" (www.worldoforiginality.com), a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.
"World of Originality" has two main arms: a series of master classes at high schools and universities, and the annual Local & Legend Music Festival (www.localandlegend.com). In the classes, rather than lecture, Worrell fields questions from the audience about music, music technology and the music business. "I don't lecture because I don't like telling anyone what to do," says Worrell. The resulting exchanges, like his music, are free-flowing, organic and edifying - for students as well as teachers.
"Everyone walked out of our question-and-answer session charged up to study and perform more music," says Adam Levy of Metuchen High School in New Jersey. "It's uncanny how his philosophy about music being music and not believing in lumping artists into genres is precisely the message I try to convey to my students. I can say it for a full school year, but all Bernie has to do is play piano for three minutes and my students understand the message."
Now in its fifth year, The Local & Legend Music Festival is a fun-filled family day with great food, local vendors and musical performances by Bernie Worrell and several local artists. For the past three years, Tony-Award nominated actor/director/singer Larry Marshall (Jesus Christ Superstar, The Cotton Club) has been a special guest. Proceeds from the event benefit the Bernie Worrell Scholarship in Music/Performing Arts. "Our festival is unique because we shine a spotlight on local musicians doing original music, some of whom are mentored by Bernie," says co-founder and producer Judie Worrell. She adds that this year, several musicians - including members of Worrell's new solo vehicle the Bernie Worrell Orchestra - will teach workshops. "No matter what age, maybe a person who always wanted to play, but never had chance - this will be good for them."
This year's Local & Legend Music Festival will happen on Sept. 14 at Vasa Park in Budd Lake, NJ. For more information, visit www.localandlegend.com.
As a key member of the original Parliament/Funkadelic, Bernie Worrell designed the legendary group's unmistakable spaced-out keyboard sound. That intergalactic, synth-drenched whomp propelled such original P-Funk classics as "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)" and most notably "Flash Light." Worrell's otherworldly funk, songwriting and production with the group earned him the nickname "The Wizard of WOO" - and a place, along with the rest of the original Parliament/Funkadelic, in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Worrell was also instrumental within Talking Heads, appearing on the landmark album Speaking in Tongues and in the Jonathan Demme concert film Stop Making Sense. In the 2004 documentary Stranger: Bernie Worrell on Earth, David Byrne credits Worrell and his musical contributions with injecting fun into Talking Heads' music and performances. Worrell's influence continues to permeate modern music with the likes of Dr. Dre and The Coup sampling his work.
THE BERNIE WORRELL ORCHESTRA - SPRING 2013 TOUR DATES
March 11 Cosmic Charlie's - Lexington, KY
March 13 Blurt Magazine Day Party - The Ginger Man Pub @ SXSW - Austin, TX
March 14 Flamingo Cantina @ SXSW - Austin, TX
March 15 Last Concert Café - Houston, TX
March 16 Pop Montreal Day Party - Liberty @ SXSW - Austin, TX
April 04 Buck's T4 - Gallatin Gateway, MT
April 06 Sun Valley Resort - Sun Valley, Idaho
April 09 Zoo Bar - Lincoln, NE
April 10 Skyway Theatre, Studio B - Minneapolis, MN
April 11 21st Saloon - Omaha, NE
April 12 27 Live - Evanston, IL
April 13 Rock Island Brewing Co. - Rock Island, IL
April 17 Beachland Ballroom - Cleveland, OH
April 18 Founder's Brewing Co. - Grand Rapids, MI
April 19 The Riverside Music Festival - Cambridge Springs, PA
April 20 River Street Jazz Café - Plains, PA
April 26 Dante's Bar - Frostburg, MD
April 27 123 Pleasant Street - Morgantown, WVA
May 03 Indiana Theater - Indiana PA
May 04 Building 24 - Wyomissing, PA
May 09 Church - Boston, MA
May 10 Putnam Den - Saratoga Springs, NY
May 11 SubCulture Arts Underground - New York, NY
May 17 The Mighty High Mountain Festival - Tuxedo Park, NY
May 18 Up Or On The Rocks - Hartford, CT
May 25 Strange Creek Festival - Greenfield, MA
August 3 Backwoods Pond Fest - Peru, NY
September 14 5th Annual Local & Legend Music Festival - Budd Lake, NJ