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A show of hands

Victor Wooten, a virtuoso and innovator of the bass, was born with an extra funk gene.

He's known as a member of the Grammy award-winning group Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, but he's also received accolades for his work with Bass Extremes and as a solo artist.

Wooten's "Soul Circus" (2005) features Wooten's high-wire act on bass, along with a collection of songs that pay tribute to great bassists and the coming-out of the rumored multi-armed character who can play so many notes so quickly.

Wooten learned music at an early age in a family of brothers that all played instruments and sang. Regi Wooten taught him to play bass at age 3, and at age 5 he was playing professionally with the Wooten Brothers Band.

The brothers played countless clubs and eventually opened concerts for Curtis Mayfield and War, and bassists such as Stanley Clarke, Larry Graham and Bootsy Collins became big influences on Wooten in the '70s.

Wooten is joined by his brothers Regi (guitar and vocals) and Joseph (keyboard and vocals) on his current tour. His group also features Derico Watson (drums and vocals), Saundra Williams (vocals) and Anthony Wellington (bass).

Wooten and his band will perform Monday night at The Mobius in Ashland.

Along with musician, arranger and composer, Wooten also can be called an author. His recent novel, "The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth through Music," contains lessons and ideas that Wooten is known for.

Wooten will offer a music workshop based on his novel from 2 to 4 p.m. Monday, April 30, at The Mobius, 281 Fourth St., Ashland. Cost is $8; $5 for students. See themobius.com or call 488-8894.

Wooten met new grass revival banjo ace Béla Fleck in 1988 in Nashville. A year later, the Flecktones were born when Wooten and one of his brothers, Roy aka Future Man, along with keyboardist Howard Levy teamed up with Fleck.

After three successful albums, Levy left the band in 1993, and the Flecktones' new format as a trio allowed Wooten to develop an array of fingerboard skills that turned him into a bassist of Jaco Pastorius proportions.

The Flecktones were in full flight with a Grammy win for best live album "Live Art" (1996) and best pop instrumental performance for "Sinister Minister," one of the album's tracks.

Wooten set his sights on a solo career, but he first formed Bass Extremes with Steve Bailey. The association led to two CDs and an instructional book/CD.

After Wooten released his solo debut, "A Show of Hands," in 1996, he took his show on the road with drummer J.D. Blair. Successive tours built momentum, critical acclaim and the release of "What Did He Say?" in 1997, the Grammy-nominated "Yin-Yang" in 1999 and a double CD, "Live in America," in 2001.

Wooten earned two Nashville Music Awards for bassist of the year and is a three-time winner of Bass Player magazine's bass player of the year. With these honors came invitations to perform with artists such as Branford Marsalis, Bruce Hornsby, Chick Corea and others.

After tours with the Flecktones and Bass Extremes in 2004, Wooten refocused on his solo career and released "Soul Circus." The album features Flecktone Jeff Coffin, Howard Levy and Bootsy Collins, among others.

Tickets to the show at The Mobius cost $20 in advance; $25 at the door. Student tickets cost $20.

See themobius.com or call 488-8894.

Victor Wooten learned to play bass from his older brother, Regi Wooten of the Wooten Brothers. - Photo by Steven Parke