About Oteil Burbridge
Oteil Burbridge is an American multi-instrumentalist, specializing on the bass guitar, trained in playing jazz and classical music from an early age. He has achieved fame primarily on bass guitar during the resurgence of the Allman Brothers Band from 1997 through 2014, and as a founding member of the band Dead & Company. Burbridge was also a founding member of The Aquarium Rescue Unit, and has worked with other musicians including Bruce Hampton, Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Bill Kreutzmann and The Derek Trucks Band, with whom his brother Kofi Burbridge was the keyboardist and flautist.
Burbridge has been recognized for his ability to incorporate scat-singing into his improvised bass solos. Burbridge endorses Fodera, Modulus, Sukop and Dunlop guitars and effects.
Burbridge was born and raised in Washington, D.C., to an African American family with some Egyptian heritage. His name, Oteil, means "explorer" or "wanderer". When he and elder sibling Kofi showed talent for music, their mother encouraged them with classical and jazz courses hoping to nurture their musical inclinations and keep them out of trouble. Kofi remembers Oteil's first drum set: a Quaker Oatmeal box, when he was only three or four years old. Both brothers were introduced to a wide variety of instruments, and became multi-instrumentalists, with both being taught to play the piano. Oteil gained proficiency on the bass clarinet, violin,and trumpet; however, bass guitar and drums became his instruments of choice . Burbridge was also interested in the theater and became the co-host of a local children's television show called "Stuff". He was enrolled in the Sidwell Friends School, a well-known elite private school offering a higher quality of education than Washington D.C.'s troubled public school system and exposing Burbridge to the tastes and styles of a diverse student body. He graduated from Sidwell Friends in 1982.
Oteil performed regularly in a variety of D.C. bands as a teenager, gathering experience playing R&B, rock, Brazilian music and jazz among other styles. He moved to Virginia Beach and worked mostly in cover bands there, and subsequently became part of the Atlanta musical scene, where he played with different musicians and also became fluent in other genres of music.
As one of the original members of Bruce Hampton's avant-garde band, the Aquarium Rescue Unit, Burbridge was introduced to members of the jam band scene in the southeast of the United States. This included members of Phish, Phil Lesh and Friends, and Blues Traveler, who freely sat in with one another in each other's bands. When Hampton left the Aquarium Rescue Unit, it slowly disbanded; however, Burbridge had developed a reputation on the four-, five-, and eventually the six-string bass guitar, enjoying the less commercial aspects of playing with Atlanta-area musicians. During its initial years, the band was composed of Bruce Hampton, Oteil Burbridge, Jimmy Herring, Jeff Sipe, Matt Mundy, and Count M'Butu. Although the band was never commercially successful, their unique combination of bluegrass, rock, Latin, blues, jazz, funk led to their becoming an influence on other bands and served as a kind of template for their own future musical endeavors.
In 2015 Burbridge joined Dead & Company, a band consisting of himself with Bob Weir, John Mayer, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann and Jeff Chimenti. The band's first performance was on October 29, 2015 at Times Union Center in Albany, New York. They have since toured in the fall of 2015, the summer of 2016, the summer of 2017, the fall of 2017, the summer of 2018, and most recently did a series of three shows in Mexico called "Playing in the Sand" in January 2019. Dead & Company started their Summer Tour 2019 at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California on May 31 and June 1, 2019.
In 2015 Burbridge became a founding member of Les Brers, a band led by founding Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks. The band also consists of his former Allman Brothers bandmates Jaimoe, Marc Quiñones and Jack Pearson along with Pat Bergeson, Bruce Katz and Lamar Williams Jr.
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