It’s not every day that Ottawa gets to welcome an inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to its turf let alone founding member of Parliament-Funkadelic Bernie Worrell. For the occasion, World Famous Music, Up and Up Music and House of PainT teamed up to to present this living legend and his band live in Ottawa.
To kick the night off, local DJs Magnificent and Zattar spun a solid selection of funk and soul. The pair played just the right tunes to get the crowd warmed up for opening group Phil Motion and the Easy Lo-Fi as people trickled into Babylon for the show. The local funk, blues, and soul band comprised of Phil Motion on drums and vocals, Marc Decho on bass, Ray Tabana on tenor sax, Greg Stone on guitar and Nicholas Dyson on trumpet, got right into things with two instrumental pieces to start the set.
At first glance, it’s obvious that Phil Motion is a hard-working musician who takes pride in contributing to the city’s music scene by performing with the Easy Lo-Fi but also by running the Up & Up Music label and producing material for several local artists like Claude Munson and People Project. His love for music is also evident in his live performance as he projects great stage presence and interacts well with his audience. The group connected with the crowd instantaneously which allowed for the musicians and audience members to feed off of one another’s energy. Their opening set included the engaging track Time-Bomb from their self-titled 7”/45rpm vinyl release and ended with the B-Side Dangerous World. Phil Motion and the Easy Lo-Fi gave a well-received performance making it a great introduction to the Bernie Worrell Orchestra.
After a brief intermission, World Famous Music producer Rob Reid stepped up to the stage to introduce headlining act the Bernie Worrell Orchestra. By then, a sizable crowd had gathered at the local venue to experience this unique live performance by one of the world’s most talented keyboardists.
The 69-year old Worrell began by giving thanks to those who came out for encouraging live music, noting the importance of supporting local artists like Phil Motion and the Easy Lo-Fi. Worrell seemed in great shape as he played the keys with vigor and sang effortlessly, defining Babylon as a “funky club”.
The Bernie Worrell Orchestra managed to have the crowd dancing in no time and audience members appeared pleased with the performance from the get-go. The group, comprised of Bernie Worrell on keys, Evan Taylor on drums, Andrew Kimball on guitar, Scott Hogan on bass, and Kyle Cadena on guitar, was joined on stage by Ottawa-based sit-in percussionist Derek De Beer who seemed to fit right in. Together they performed the classic 1978 song Woo Together along with So Uptight, Thugs, and Get Your Hands Off from their new EP BWO is Landing. They also got the crowd to participate by singing along whole-heartedly during the Talking Heads hit Take Me to The River. The Bernie Worrell Orchestra’s contagious sounds offered that sought-after feel-good vibe that concert-goers look for in a live performance and it’s clear that Ottawa fell under the spell of the Woo’s charm over the course of a memorable night of funk rock worthy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The group’s Canadian dates also included a show at Pop Montreal yesterday and conclude with a performance at Adelaide Hall in Toronto with The Soul Motivators tonight.
Take a listen to the Bernie Worrell Orchestra’s new album BWO is Landing and get familiar with this legendary musician and his band if you haven’t already checked them out.