'm sure many
readers are already familiar with the
virtuoso bass playing of Doug Wimbish: he's played many
a trade show- including the recent London Bass Guitar
Show - and is world renowned for his work with Lauryn
Hill, Living Colour, the Rolling Stones and Depeche Mode
to a name a few. However, he also has his own venture
known as the Wimbash - and it's so much more than your
average music festival.
Doug has already organised one Wimbash here in the UK, and it was a
roaring success - so when he came back over for round two, I hopped on the
train to Ramsgate for the event and met the man himself. “It all started about
13 years ago,” he tells me. “I had been living in London and New York, and
I went back to my hometown of Hartford, Connecticut. A friend told me to
check out a place called Sully's, because they had live music there seven nights
a week. I became mates with the owner, and he said if I ever wanted to do
something just to let him know, so that conversation went on for a while.
“Then Skip McDonald, who got me into the music business, was due to come
home for a few months, so I decided to throw him a welcome home party. Now
there were lots of musicians there who I grew up playing with, who are older
and have kids and had become weekend warriors. So Skip was coming home
for a long overdue visit and I thought, 'Well, if you have someone as great as
Skip and we're getting together in our hometown, let's embrace some of the
kids that are up-and-coming' so I started asking around about local bands. I
called in some favours and I got Living Colour
and Tackhead to play. It was almost like holding a
family reunion.”
A spelling mistake by a hotel in Germany
gave Doug his title for this initial party, which
fortunately for us has grown and continues to
grow, “The first event ended up being 10 bands,
two stages and we ran it all day. It just grew from
word of mouth. Some guys were there at the first
one from Rock House DVD and they were like,
'We want to bring this to NAMM'. They were
cool because they were making DVDs and were
in among all these guitar and amp companies
that are out at NAMM, so we thought that was
perfect. I managed to get some of the LA folks and
the cats that were at NAMM to participate. We
got the party room at the Hilton Hotel and put on
our first NAMM Wimbash. Lots of artists started
to reach out to me to bring the Wimbash to their
hometowns, and it went viral.”
Since its inception 13 years ago, the Wimbash
has started to spread out across the globe. Doug
has taken his festival series to the Caribbean and
all across the United States. The Wimbash also has
an educational element to it, he tells us. “There
were some old friends of mine who had relocated
to the Dominican Republic and become connected
to the DREAM project, which stands for
Dominican Republic Education And Mentoring,
and I got a call to bring Wimbash over there. We
would have clinics on during the day: I'd bring my
attorney down there to teach the kids about law
and my accountant to teach them about money.
We've also teamed up with the School Of Rock
and since then every Wimbash outside the UK
has had a School Of Rock chapter playing. When
you see kids there playing and nailing it, it really
rounds everything out. My vibe is, leave your ego
at the door and let's have a conversation: all it
takes is one conversation to make a big difference
in someone else's life.”
W ith that in mind, I made my way to a
spot in the crowd to witness the Wimbash for
myself: Doug opened the show with one of his
legendary loop bass solo pieces, and then got the
rest of his fellow players up - Skip McDonald,
Jennie Bellestar and legendary producer Adrian
Sherwood. Doug also used a local drummer and
called the Northern Irish singer-songwriter
Seraphim Kelly to the stage. Doug and the guys
played sensitively for his performance, which
was followed by singer Loretta Haywood. Mark
Stewart of the Pop Group then took the stage
and performed with all his trademark fervour,
while Doug and the band created an almost
dubstep dance vibe which complemented his
style perfectly.
After jams with Skip McDonald and local
musicians, the night finished off with Jennie
Bellestar taking to the stage to perform some
dubstep tunes which were so bass-heavy one of
the speakers in the in-house PA system blew!
Doug and his wife Diane have big plans for
the future - they want to be able to bring the
Wimbash around the world and to a town near
you. I'll be there: will you?
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