Victoria Tavern

Victoria Tavern

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James Whiton Solo Bass Loop tonight at 10

October 2, 2014

Over the past 35 years, he has performed both as a soloist and as a member of symphonies, rock bands, jazz combos and big bands. He has been featured on over 100 recordings, including a dozen self-produced releases. He has traveled throughout the US and Europe, playing in an incredible variety of venues in front of audiences ranging in size from 1 to 10,000 (ah, the life of a working musician!). The dedication of playing upwards of 300 nights a year for 25 years has resulted in a deep understanding of the subtle nuances of music and an absolute mastery of his instrument which is sharply evident the instant his finger touches a string.

In 2010, Tom Waits recruited James to play bass on his 2011 release Bad As Me, alongside superstar artists such as Keith Richards, Charlie Musselwhite, Augie Meyers (Little Richard, Bob Dylan), Marc Ribot, Dave Hidalgo (Los Lobos, Bob Dylan), Flea and Les Claypool. James is one of seven bass players on the recording, but Waits chose to use James’ bass tracks on 7 of the 16 songs. Bad As Me was an astounding success; named as the best reviewed album of 2011, it outsold every other recording in Waits’ catalog and was nominated for a Grammy.

Throughout his career, James has been fortunate to play with many of his heroes, including Tom Waits, George Clinton (P-Funk All Stars), The Rev. Horton Heat, Les Claypool, Vernon Reid (Living Color), Dave Schools (Widespread Panic), Nels Cline, Eric Burdon (The Animals), Bernie Worrell (P-Funk, Talking Heads), Thomas Dolby, Lady Kier (Dee-Lite), Fred Wesley (James Brown), Angelo Moore & Norwood Fisher (Fishbone).

Currently, James lives in Albuquerque, NM and is touring the country as a solo artist.

James’ solo playing is “beautiful, unexpected and mesmerizing” (SF Bay Guardian). He applies looping technology to his upright bass, using his skills with the bow and an arsenal of effects to produce music that instantly engages his audience, at the same time surprising them with how much melody, how much beauty, how many different sounds can come from an instrument usually relegated to supportive roles.

In addition to his original compositions, James performs covers of familiar songs in unusual ways, causing ears to perk up and faces to light up as audiences gradually recognize songs they have heard thousands of times, yet have never heard quite like this. His set never stays in one place for long, leaping effortlessly from dark, beautiful classical music to overdriven, heavy rock n roll to Motown funk and pop to ambient soundscape. At one moment, you’re listening to a multi-layered string section; the next moment, he is playing heavy, distorted funk. He shifts through an amazing variety of seemingly disparate genres with ease, orchestrating the incredible range of sounds he is able to pull out of his double bass into a whole that is surprisingly full, sublimely tasteful, and simply fascinating.

James Whiton’s Solo Loop Bass Madness was awarded one of the Best Live Shows of 2012 in Oakland, CA by the East Bay Weekly.

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