Funded! This project was successfully funded on March 19, 2013.

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P-Funk legend Bernie Worrell needs a 15-seat touring van for his Bernie Worrell Orchestra to promote their new album, coming in 2013.

March 12 ALERT: Thank you Bootsy Collins, Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi, and everyone who has backed us or helped spread the word so far. We need to do more! And with a week to go, we've got an extra special surprise:

Two BRAND NEW synths, signed by Bernie Worrell, and practically a steal even at the $750 reward level! Many thanks to Dave Smith Instruments and Moog Music (both esteemed Bernie Worrell sponsors) for their generosity!

You know who he is...

Even if you've never heard of Bernie Worrell, the odds are better than good you've heard his music. As the virtuoso keyboardist and driving musical force behind Parliament-Funkadelic, Bernie is synonymous with the P-Funk legacy, from his fat Minimoog bass lines on “Flash Light” and “One Nation Under A Groove” to his percussive piano and synth runs on “Chocolate City” and “Give Up the Funk.” In 1997, Bernie and his P-Funk bandmates, including George Clinton and Bootsy Collins, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame―an honor that was long overdue.

These credits alone speak to Bernie’s rare talent as an artist, but they don’t stop there; his contributions to seminal albums outside the P-Funk canonincluding Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense and Public Image Ltd's Album, to name just two monolithic examples—truly put him in a class by himself. Keith Richards, Yoko Ono, Bootsy Collins, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Mos Def, Sly & Robbie, Deee-Lite, Bill Laswell and many more have recruited him in the studio and on tour―all for his versatility, vision and feverish creativity whenever he gets his hands on a keyboard.

Bernie at WBAI in New York [photo: Tyler Durrance Gamble]
Bernie at WBAI in New York [photo: Tyler Durrance Gamble]

Going back to his classic 1978 debut All the Woo in the World, Bernie has also fronted an impressive array of solo projects and supergroups, from 1993’s Blacktronic Science to power-funk outfits like the WOO Warriors and SociaLybrium. His latest undertaking is probably his most ambitious yet—a nine-piece, high-energy live revue aptly named the Bernie Worrell Orchestra, built to retrofit and reinterpret some of Bernie’s vast repertoire, from the P-Funk hits to all-new original material that’s steeped in soul-jazz, hip-hop, psych-rock and more. (And he's a pretty badass singer, too!)

What we've been up to lately, and where we're headed...

In 2011, the BWO released the jazz-fueled collection Standards, and we took our show on the road. Toward the end of our fall mini-tour, in front of a packed house at Bleecker Street’s legendary Bitter End club in New York City, Bernie’s lifelong friend and partner-in-P-Funk Bootsy Collins made a surprise guest appearance, adding another exclamation point to the buzz surrounding the band. It wasn’t long before we amassed an unbroken string of high-profile east coast shows, prompting Bernie to consider the logical next step: a return to the recording studio.

And this time, he promises to pull out all the stops. Pre-production is already underway, with confirmed participation from a list of guests that reads like a who’s-who of funk, soul and rock history, including Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club), Paul Shaffer, Nona Hendryx and many more special guests. With more shows slated for spring 2013, the BWO is on the move with new music, new guests and a whole new sound.

We want to play in your town, but we need a new van to do it.

Bernie knows what it takes to go on tour, and overall we're a pretty resilient bunch, but with a band this size, we've got some serious logistics to consider when we hit the road. We used to try piling ten people into three cars with a big load of gear, which requires a substantial budget to pull off, especially with all the gas, tolls and inevitable repairs that we need to cover. Lately we've gone for renting a 15-passenger van―another expense that makes it really hard for us to break even after just a short tour.

We've had to turn down offers in many places where we haven't had the chance to build up a following yet, all because we don't have access to the mode of travel we need to get to these places. With a brand new van and a trailer hitch to haul our gear, we can eliminate the hassle, and make it much easier to travel beyond just the east coast and midwestern cities we've played so far. We know you want to see Bernie in person and to hear his music―he's a living legend, after all!―and this is the only way we know how to bring the Bernie Worrell Orchestra to you and to all his fans across the country.

Trust us: getting a van is about more than just convenience.

When we don't have the funds to rent a van, we're forced to go with our cars instead. If you've ever packed a drum kit and a bunch of amps into the back of a car, you know how much wear and tear that can inflict on your vehicle. Ford Escorts, Toyotas and Hondas weren't meant for this kind of abuse—and more importantly, this is about safety too. We're already pushing our luck on a rainy highway with three compact cars weighed down by gear and personnel, and then who knows what happens at the gig when we have to find a place to park? Does one of our cars end up getting towed, or worse, stolen? With a van, we can have one person focused on driving, and another person watching the gear and the vehicle during the down-time so nothing goes wrong.

Plus we can bring extra merch with us, and we can have a place to chill with our fans after a show. Who knows, maybe we can even tailgate and jam with our fans before a show! The main thing for us is we need to have a ride that's almost a home away from home. And let's be honest: after all the years of dedication and hard work that Bernie Worrell has poured into his music (not to mention everything he's done for The Funk ever since James Brown invented it), we think he deserves a safe and comfortable way to travel. We're sure you'll agree, and we look forward to seeing you out on the road!

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

We're already addressing the main challenge that a successful Kickstarter campaign will present to us: BOOKING GIGS. If Bernie's fans are willing to donate their hard-earned cash to get a van for the Bernie Worrell Orchestra, then naturally we owe his fans everywhere the opportunity to see the BWO live. We already have connections to venues and booking agents on the east coast, and the more shows we play, the more connections we make.

But more importantly, we'll also work to identify―through social media and through this campaign―Bernie's fans in cities where the BWO hasn't played yet. We want to interact directly with the people who love Bernie's music―directly with YOU―because you probably know better than anyone where the best place in town is for the BWO to play, and who we should approach to start a dialogue about booking shows. Through Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram, YouTube and more, the live experience of music is more socially interactive and connected than ever before, and we want to make sure you know everything there is to know, in real time, about where we are on the road, and where we're headed. We're constantly updating our web presence and our Facebook page, and we're live-tweeting gigs, events and happenings whenever we can. We feel music is the great uniter, and that's what we want to prove every time we get out there on the road.

FAQ

  • If you want to raise your original pledge, just click on the "Manage Your Pledge" button -- no matter what reward it says you are getting, we will make sure you get what you want if the total you pledge is accurate and the campaign is successful. Please make sure you tell us via email which rewards you want.

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  • Pledge $10 or more
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    21 backers

    Bernie Worrell will leave a personalized outgoing message on your voicemail or answering machine. All the WOO in the world, baby!

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    33 backers

    ALL NEW FOR THE WOO: Because you demanded it, we're adding an entry-level digital download that's available to EVERYONE who pledges $15 or more. You'll receive a hi-res digital copy of the BWO's STANDARDS album, along with Bernie's classic (and long out-of-print) masterpiece BLACKTRONIC SCIENCE. Are we looking out for you? Yes, we are.

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    43 backers Limited (57 left of 100)

    Bernie will autograph a glossy 8-by-10 photograph, randomly chosen from his extensive archive, just for you—suitable for framing, of course!

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    84 backers Limited (16 left of 100)

    You'll receive a vinyl copy of the Bernie Worrell Orchestra's latest album "Standards," autographed by the man himself! Featuring funky big-band takes on classics like "Watermelon Man" and "Take Five," this record has already become a staple of the soul-jazz underground. (Comes with a digital download card, for you tech-savvy non-luddites out there.)

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  • Pledge $25 or more
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    22 backers Limited (78 left of 100)

    WEAR IT WELL: As a brand new exclusive to this campaign, back us at this level and you'll receive a specially designed t-shirt identifying you as part of the "support staff" for getting BWO out on the road. And for anyone who has already pledged $25, if this reward appeals to you, please let us know!

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  • Pledge $30 or more
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    19 backers Limited (31 left of 50)

    Get set for a digital download of a selection of tracks from Bernie's work over the years—some of it rare, and some of it never-before-released. We can't say much more than that, but you can be sure we've got a few surprises in store!

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    33 backers Limited (7 left of 40)

    You'll get two hard-to-find CDs—SociaLybrium's "For You, For Us, For All" and the limited edition sample CD "Bernie Worrell Presents: Dis Is Wot Ya Shudda Had," both autographed by Bernie. These discs are out-of-print nuggets that feature contributions from Blackbyrd McKnight, Melvin Gibbs and more, so don't sleep!

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  • Pledge $50 or more
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    3 backers All gone!

    Believe it or not, a while back we commissioned a run of bobblehead dolls made in Bernie's likeness, and we've still got a few left! Great fun for the kids, or if you're just looking for a timeless keepsake to make your neighbors jealous.

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  • Pledge $100 or more
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    25 backers All gone!

    Donors at this level will receive autographed copies of the Bernie Worrell Orchestra's "Standards" LP, the limited edition sample CD "Bernie Worrell Presents: Dis Is Wot Ya Shudda Had," and a hard-to-find BWO commemorative t-shirt (please specify size). Who says you can't *wear* the word, as well as spread it?

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  • Pledge $200 or more
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    1 backer All gone!

    Get yourself a customized memento from the Bernie Worrell Orchestra: an actual bass drum head with embossed insignia, signed by Bernie and the band! You're even guaranteed that this one has been used on the road, which is why there's only one, so get on the good foot!

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  • Pledge $300 or more
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    4 backers Limited (6 left of 10)

    You'll receive a carefully curated, select CD compilation of previously unreleased live tracks from Bernie's extensive personal library of gig recordings, with classic performances by the WOO Warriors, SociaLybrium, the Bernie Worrell Orchestra and more! These will be printed, numbered and signed in-house at WOO central, for your consumption only!

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  • Pledge $350 or more
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    0 backers Limited (8 left of 8)

    Weigh in at this level and you'll get a one-on-one Skype session with Bernie Worrell himself! You'll have 15 minutes max to ask him about anything (as long as it's music-related—nothing scan'lous!), so plan your time accordingly.

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  • Pledge $400 or more
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    1 backer All gone!

    This one's for the deep P-Funk heavies, and really oughta be on eBay, but because we love you guys we're posting it here. Bernie has told us he's willing to part with an original 1/4-INCH STUDIO REEL from a '78 recording session with Parliament! The box is labeled "Sir Nose (contest voices)" with "2 Dr. Funkensteins" (photos available upon request). Truth be told, even we don't know what's on it, and you'll probably have to bake it before you put it up on a tape machine, but this is an unquestionably rare piece of P-Funk history that's a steal at this level, so move fast!

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  • Pledge $500 or more
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    3 backers Limited (5 left of 8)

    Ever wonder what goes on at a band rehearsal with Bernie Worrell? Now's your chance to find out. Back us at this level and you'll get to sit in and watch the Bernie Worrell Orchestra go through all their moves, with the man himself leading the way! Once again, we realize this one favors our potential east coast backers, but feel free to contact us with questions if you'll be in the tri-state area (NY, NJ and CT) starting in June.

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  • Pledge $600 or more
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    3 backers Limited (5 left of 8)

    You'll get a once-in-a-lifetime, one-on-one keyboard lesson with Bernie Worrell. We recommend you have at least an intermediate level of skill as a musician. Also, this reward does NOT include travel and accommodations, which we will arrange for Bernie in consultation with you, but you must agree to pay these expenses up front. With this in mind, we understand this probably holds the most appeal for donors on the U.S. east coast (since Bernie lives in New Jersey), but we hope you'll agree that an in-depth lesson with the Wizard of WOO, sure to cover all the keyboard licks and chord theory you can handle, is more than worth the effort and expense!

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  • Pledge $750 or more
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    2 backers All gone!

    SYNTHESIZE ME: Thanks to the generous efforts of Dave Smith Instruments and Moog Music (both Bernie Worrell sponsors), we're offering TWO synths, signed by Bernie, as a reward at this level. If you're one of the two backers who lucks out, please let us know whether you prefer the Dave Smith Mopho or the Moog Minitaur—first come, first served!

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  • Pledge $1,000 or more
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    4 backers Limited (6 left of 10)

    We'll give you an executive producer's credit on the next Bernie Worrell Orchestra CD, as well as a personal message and autograph from Bernie, along with autographs from as many of his distinguished guests as we can arm with a Sharpie! You'll also receive exclusive updates from us, via a private email newsletter, about the progress of the album, along with behind-the-scenes photos and video clips (the latter whenever possible).

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  • Pledge $5,000 or more
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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    This is an absolutely unprecedented and unusual offer, which is why it makes the top of our rewards list. If you're the lucky (and generous) first donor to weigh in at this level, you'll receive an autographed, RIAA-certified GOLD RECORD AWARD from Bernie Worrell's own personal stash! He only has a few of these on hand, so this is a true rarity from the P-Funk era, in every sense of the word. If you're a diehard funkateer, you know what this one means! (And if you're interested in this item, please contact us directly for photos—serious inquiries only, please.)

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  • Pledge $6,000 or more
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    1 backer Limited (2 left of 3)

    If you've come this far, clearly you want to see the BWO pull up in your driveway in their brand new van, right? We'll play a private party for you anywhere you say—as long as it's safe, legal, equipped with proper stage, power and PA, and within the continental US. And if you're anywhere else—well, let's discuss!

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