“Bela Fleck and the ORIGINAL Flecktones” – that’s what it said on the programs. It made me think of those ’50s package shows featuring doo-wop groups that haven’t been seen for years and years. And in truth, that metaphor works: Nearly two decades have passed since harp player Howard Levy left Bela and the boys to go make money with Kenny Loggins. Multi-instrumentalist Jeff Coffin (who’s now making money with the Dave Matthews Band) had become a fact of life after over ten years with the Flecktones, so some visible line-up delineation had to be made in the marketing literature. Fortunately, that wasn’t all that was changed.
As the lights went down, Levy was actually kind of an afterthought for the people sitting around me. “Come on, Victor,” one guy yelled. “Bring out the Wooten!” The man got his wish as Victor Lemonte Wooten, arguably the best bass player of his generation, appeared in the spotlight and started laying down a deliciously funky figure. He was immediately joined – physically and musically – by digital drummer Futureman, aka older brother Roy Wooten. Fleck came out playing next; then Levy “re-joined” the lineup, and they were off playing the kind of hopped-up multi-genre instrumental that snapped people’s heads around in 1989. A computer-driven light sent the logo from their latest disc “Rocket Science” flying around the Hart Theatre. That logo originated on the Flecktones’ first disc, so the light show could be counted as one last manifestation of the phrase, “Hey, kids! We’re putting the band back together!”