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Bernie Worrell & the WOO Warriors
Review 06/12/99 From: PFUNK53
Bernie Worrell and the WOO Warriors played at a small little Mexican American Cafe last night called Mexicali Blues [$12/$15door]. Naturally there were a few psychedelic posters as well as a photograph of the late Jerry Garcia hanging behind the bar. What else would you expect from a joint named after a Grateful Dead song. My wife and I met Judy Worrell outside and she recommended that we eat there. We were not disappointed at all. The food was excellent. The opening act was a one man blues performer who played the acoustic guitar as well as the harmonica. He was good, but as Austin Powers would say, "It's not my bag baby." About five minutes before the WOO Warriors were to take the stage Judy came over to our table and asked me if I would introduce the band. I hesitated, because I had underestimated, but she was serious. I agreed, and then my heart started to pound more than a little. I was never much of a public speaker, but this was literally a dream come true. After my introduction the WOO Warriors took the stage and the fun began. The band took the stage and broke into "P. Funk." Gabe was on the drums, Amp was on one set of keyboards, Donna was the bassist, 'and Moon' was on guitar. They stomped their way through "P. Funk" and it sounded too good. Bernie came onstage about half way through the song and then had Donna do a short solo. Bernie then began his trademark of little sound bites of songs long forgotten. These little impromptu keyboard meandering by the Wizard of WOO are always one of the highlights of any WOO Show. It's like a quick game of name that tune, and this night would be full of them. "Row Row Row Your Boat" was the lead in to a few bars of "Skin Tight" and "Fire" by the Ohio Players. "Red Hot Momma" was next and as usual was done to perfection. The WOO Warriors were missing their lead singer and mandolin player extrodinair Catherine Russell. This was a little bit of a dissapointment but it also allowed the group to stretch out into some different areas. Parliament's "Gamin On Ya" is a good example. This was and may have been the first time that I have ever heard that played live. Don't forget I was still a young teenager back in the days of the OG Mothership tour, and I didn't bring a pad and a pen way back when. That song was a splendid surprise and a treat. BW broke into a few notes of "Benny And The Jets" by Sir Elton John. Hey, that sounded just like the piece from the WOO Warriors Live CD. "Y. Spy" was next and was interrupted by a small equipment glitch. Brett jumped onstage and fixed the clavinet in no time. After "Y. Spy," The Wizard teased us with some snippets of Deep Purples' "Smoke On The Water" as well as Black Sabbath's "Iron Man." "If You Don't Like The Effects" was next and was followed by a tremendous rendition of "Straight Ahead." Bernie and Mike were cookin' with gas on that one. "Supergroovalistic" got some more people out of their seats and segued right into "Comin' Round The Mountain." The next song was an instrumental that I had never heard played before. Mike and Donna told me that it was "Seven Laws of WOO" from Praxis' Transmutation CD. Bernie once again entertained us with "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again" and "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow" from the play Annie. Bernie used to play that all the time in the mid 80's when he toured around with Kidd Funkadelic as Bernie Worrell and friends. It was nice to hear his version once again. The introduction to Beethoven's "Fifth Symphony" led into a few bars of "Take Me To The River," which always leads into "Smokey." Amp and Bernie shared the vocals on this classic. The next song up was another great surprise. "If You Got Funk You Got Style" was another seldom played song that Bernie pulled out of his funky bag of tricks for us. As you know Bernie was once a member of The Talking Heads and toured with them for a few years. BW is the reason I started to listen to them and I even purchased the movie Stop Making Sense just because he was in it. I bring this up because tonight was the first time that I have ever heard the WOO Warriors play a full Talking Heads song. Needless to say they blew us all away with one of the funkiest versions of "Burning Down The House." Amp, Bernie, Donna, Moon, and The Undi$co Kidd laid down some nasty funk to this tune. I really hope that "Burning Down The House" is part of all upcoming WOO shows. It was that awesome. "Cosmic Slop" was next. Hey, were they really going to play the whole Hardcore Jollies album live tonight. They just might have if not for a NJ curfew that had them wrap up a perfect performance of "Thumpasaurus" way too soon. The lights came back up and the show was over after about three hours. If not for the curfew the band may have played much longer. The show was incredible, awesome, and any other adjective that you want to place next. The WOO is headed off to Puerto Rico for two shows next week. After that I hope they play a few more gigs here on the East coast.