Bass players are inherently cool people, but it’s not every day you see a bass player reach the level of jaw-dropping awesomeness Victor Wooten achieved when he recently appeared on the cover of The Amazing Spider-Man.
Wooten’s illustrated, dreadlocked likeness is right there on the cover, with Spidey underneath one arm, swinging into action. Seriously, when was the last time you saw a bass player on the cover of any comic book, let alone a Spider-Man comic?
“Yeah, I hadn’t seen that either,” Wooten says, during a phone interview. “I thought that was very, very cool.”
This is all thanks to his friends, the owners of Amazing Fantasy Comics in Chesapeake, Va. The comics store got the opportunity to pick someone who could appear on a Spider-Man issue they could sell at their spot. “Every once in a while,” Wooten explains, “Marvel Comics will make an offer to these stores that if they meet certain criteria, they can get whoever they want. My friend, knowing how much I liked Spider-Man, she called and told me about it—see if I wanted to do this deal. And, of course, I jumped right on it.” (The issue can also be obtained through Wooten’s website, victorwooten.com, in both signed and unsigned form.)
Even without the web-swinging appearance, Wooten would still be noted for some awe-inspiring feats in his career. The 47-year-old Virginia-born, Nashville-based bass player, voted one of the 10 greatest of all time in a Rolling Stone readers’ poll, has already snagged five Grammy wins. His bass-picking virtuosity has enlivened many bands, including Bela Fleck and the Flecktones (of which he’s a founding member) and SMV, the bass-heavy supergroup that features him and fellow bass legends Stanley Clarke and Marcus Miller.
Wooten is currently out on tour with his own band, alerting fans of the two upcoming releases that he’ll be dropping in September: Words & Tones and Sword & Stone, which is the instrumental version of Words . And since it’s summertime, Wooten’s series of music and nature camps—in its 13th year, and located at his Wooten Woods retreat near Nashville—is now underway. The man is also working on a follow-up to his 2008 novel The Music Lesson . It makes one wonder how the hell Wooten manages to do so much. “Well, one of the things is, because I can,” he says. “There’s nothing out there that’s telling me I can’t do it, you know. The only thing that sometimes taps me on the shoulder and says, ‘Hey, you may not be able to do this!’ is time, you know. But, I’ve always had ideas, and it seems like now, more than ever, with [the] Internet and everything like that, you can do all of these ideas.”
Wooten may not be able to do anything a spider can, but he’s doing everything he can.
Victor Wooten performs Fri., June 8, 8pm. $29.50-$37.50. Keswick Theatre, 291 N. Keswick Ave., Glenside. 215.572.7650. keswicktheatre.com
PW's Music Issue 2014