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Sussex Countian
  • Off to meet the wonderful 'Wizard of Woo'

  • Bernie Worrell, also known as the “Wizard of Woo,” will land the P-Funk Mothership at Dogfish Head in Rehoboth Beach on Friday.
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  • After more than three decades, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Bernie Worrell continues to pilot the groovy P-Funk Mothership.
    This Friday, Worrell, also known as the "Wizard of Woo," will land the Mothership at Dogfish Head in Rehoboth Beach, cruising with passengers from his namesake outfit, the Bernie Worrell Orchestra. BWO will share the stage with the Rehoboth trio lower case blues.
    Worrell is the keyboardist responsible for the legendary band P-Funk's intergalactic sound during the '70s, as evidenced in its hits like "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)" and "Flash Light." Lately, he's been on an aggressive spring tour with BWO. The crew's been spreading the woo to more than a dozen states since April, sharing tunes off its forthcoming EP and LP, which are both untitled. The EP is slated to drop in a few weeks, while the LP doesn't yet have a time for release.
    In addition to hearing BWO's new tunes on Friday, the outfit has been known to take listeners on a fantastic voyage down memory lane with "a couple of P-Funk oldies, but goodies, and a couple of Talking Heads [songs]," said Worrell, 69, who recorded several albums with the esteemed Talking Heads such as "The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads" and "Speaking In Tongues."
    "We might throw in anything," he added.
    Caught in a fabulous funk
    The genesis of BWO started in 2011 when Evan Taylor, the group's drummer, reached out to the Wizard of Woo's manager about making an album of jazz standards with him, but in a "funkatized" fashion, Worrell recalled. "I wasn't sure. Then I said, 'Yes." The result was the vinyl record "Standards," which dropped in 2011. The project featured a combination of Worrell's friends and Taylor's pals.
    Months later, Taylor approached Worrell's management about touring together, which snowballed into BWO's current lineup, one that's been assembled by Taylor. A number of the musicians are his friends from high school.
    While BWO bears Worrell's famous name, the Wizard of Woo says Taylor is the bandleader.
    "I've been band-leading for years and I'm tired of it," admitted Worrell, who added he's been taking Taylor under his wing.
    Similar to playing in P-Funk, Worrell says his experience grooving with BWO is pretty comparable as both outfits have grounded and exceptional musicians. A glaring difference between the groups, however, is the Wizard of Woo is old enough to father his BWO bandmates. "They're younger and have more energy," said Worrell, who tries to keep pace by chugging "5-Hour Energy and double espressos."
    Page 2 of 2 - Though he continues to play at a masterful level, the Wizard of Woo says touring takes more of a toll on his aged body. For instance, his hearing has become more sensitive, which makes him an unhappy camper when gigging at venues where front-of-the-house engineers run through sound checks plagued with feedback. While no musician enjoys this, it's been more annoying for Worrell because "I can't take a lot of [high-pitched] frequencies, nowadays."
    But like great fighters, he rolls with the punches. And performing with BWO feels like he's delivering a knockout blow in the studio and on stage.
    "I'm having fun with it," Worrell said. "It's fun and it's something different," which is a major ingredient in Worrell's recipe for creating music since "I get bored quick."
    IF YOU GO
    WHAT Bernie Worrell Orchestra in concert
    WHEN 10 p.m., Friday
    WHERE Dogfish Head, 320 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach
    COST Free
    INFO dogfish.com or call (302) 226-2739

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