Wooten Woods… then and now

The Jam!Me and the Michigan Drummers!


I was invited to teach a yoga/music/life class today at Wooten Woods… an incredible group of 53 high school jazzers booked the camp for the weekend! Brilliant! Jack, the jazz director understood what it takes to turn on lightbulbs… and combining nature, Victor Wooten, and all of the players… well… it will change you forever. Below is a piece I wrote about Vic’s camp in 2002… Modern Drummer published it, and it still applies…. enjoy…

On the left… Eric Struthers, Eric Silver, Bob Franceschini, Victor Wooten, Jeff Coffin, Roland Barber, Regi Wooten, Derrico Watson, Rod McGaha, Kartlon Taylor, and on… and on….

On the right… me and the jazz drummers from Michigan!!! What a great bunch!




I was the lone drummer in a room of 65 bass players. What could I learn here? Why would a drum magazine want to know about Victor Wooten’s Bass/Nature Camp?

1)     Bass players are our partners. We want to make each other happy. Might as well figure out who they are and what they like.

2)    Victor Wooten, Grammy award winning bass player with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, has played with the best drummers in the world and is a marvelous, insightful teacher. He has combined his mastery of the bass and his deep respect for Nature, in a way that continues to challenge him, keeping him young, excited, fresh and open. Who couldn’t learn something there?

3)    Nature? I’m a drummer… why do I want to be in the woods with a bunch of bass players, building fires, learning survival techniques, and exploring animal tracks? Why not? Being scared (of bugs, ticks, darkness, animal sounds), being aware (of feeling the earth with my bare feet), being brave (by learning to start a fire with my bare hands)…made me AWAKE! When I played drums with the camp on the first night of the camp, I was already a different person. Nature opened me up.

4)    Seth Ricarde, one of the nature teachers, explained that “nature is a universal language”. Music is too. Expanding the mind, expands the ability

to be musical.

5)    The 60 bass players had a team spirit…much like drummers do. They were of all ages, all levels of ability, and from all over the world. They supported each other like a drum circle would. No wonder we are partners.

6)    The legendary Chuck Rainey, one of the most recorded bass players in history, gets his inspiration from the drummer! “ I hear those ghost notes and little fills…it makes me create!”

7)    J.D. Blair, (drummer for Take 6, Shania Twain, Victor Wooten) embodies the spirit of the camp. He plays with an even mix of solid groove and solid space. He listens more than he talks.

8)    I can walk in the woods barefoot and blindfolded for 20 minutes, and play drums with more connection, and spirit than I have in a long, long time.

9)    Veteran Roy “FutureMan” Wooten, famous for his mind-blowing Drumitar invention and technique, slaaaams on the drumset. And newcomer Marcus  Finnie, with his fearless-filling and “open eyes, open ears, open spirit”, was loved by all 60 campers!

10)  As musicians, it is our job to learn, grow and share the music. I can’t think of better teachers than Victor Wooten and the woods.