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Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



The weekend starts here

August 13th, 2005 | No Comments | Categories: Uncategorized |

The Fringe has an interesting curve to it, in that midweek gigs tend on the whole to be smaller, especially for late night gigs, and shows tend to build an audience as the run goes on thanks to flyering, word of mouth and press (still no press that I know of for my show.)

So yesterday being Friday, I had fairly high hopes of a good turn out, and Guy Pratt was going to be on the show, so that was something else to tell people – members of Pink Floyd guesting on shows in tiny venues is generally a pretty cool coup, I guess.

Didn’t get into town til almost three, so concentrated on getting lots of flyering done til meeting TSP for munchies in Hendersons – Edinburgh’s coolest fair trade veggie restaurant.

After flyering the queue for Antonio Forcione’s show (I’m getting quite good at the queue-flyering business – just camp it up, smile a lot, and people seem happy to take a flyer and ask about the show – it’s a captive audience!), I met up with Julie McKee, Andy Williamson and some other friends for a mint tea back at Henderson’s, then headed back to The Carlton to meet an old college pal, Brian, who had come into Edinburgh to see the show. Brian was a fantastic bassist back when we were at college, a proper jazz-monster, and a thoroughly nice bloke, so it was great to catch up. The friendship/social side of the Edinburgh Fringe is so much fun, though not that dissimilar to how I live my life anyway, just more concentrated.

About two hours before the show, I rang Guy, who said he was ill and might not make it, but would if I had a bass he could borrow. No problem, says I.

Get to the show starting, still no sign of Guy. I eventually phone him from the stage in the middle of the gig, and he’s on his way. Cool audience in tonight, and my biggest yet by quite some margin (50), a few brought in by the promise of some two-bass-action, so it was a relief when Guy turned up.

Sadly, the duet section of the gig wasn’t great. Instead of playing one of my tunes, as I’d planned and suggested, Guy kicked into a funky riff thing in A, which went on and on, moved into E, and became pretty much what I’ve tried to avoid for most of my solo career – two bassists playing over one chord funk for what seems like ages. It’s a real shame, as I had hoped that we’d have played something more musical together – Guy’s a fantastic player, and has played on a few of my all-time favourite tracks, but tonight, it really didn’t work. Eventually it wound down, and he put the bass down and left (?).

It went on so long that I had to drop two of my tunes (the two with the funniest stories), and the show as a whole felt like something was missing, though CD sales were the best of the run so far, and the audience reaction was still very positive. It also meant that I couldn’t involve the Rvd G in the show, which I’d planned to do on the MMFSOG story – will just have to get him to come back in full ecclesiastical garb on another night (I wonder if a vicar could be struck off for dressing as a bishop and swearing onstage? I guess we’ll find out… OK, maybe not dressed as a bishop, that’s just wishful thinking…)

I’m not too bothered by the way it went – we tried it, it didn’t work, no problem. And in someways, it just solidified my own feelings of rightness about the solo stuff. It was really odd to be playing the kind of bass-duel stuff that I hear all the time at bassfest gigs and am always trying to steer clear of – I dispensed with the notion of ‘bass music’ a long time ago, in favour of just seeing my basses as instruments with no set function and with a total disregard for the tradition of the instrument, in order to come up with a way of getting the music inside my head out without it being trapped in some kind of expectation about what bass is. After tonight, it’s clear how hard that is to do with other players. I’m spoilt by how a lot of the duet situations I’ve been in have worked so easily, particularly the duets with Michael Manring, where the two bassist format works so ridiculously well that it feels like it should be fine with anyone.

Ah well. Fortunately the rest of my guests are just contributing their bit to songs I’m already doing – tonight is Julie McKee, a FANTASTIC jazz singer with her own beautifully original show here at the Fringe. She’s going to come and sing People Get Ready with me, and I’m very much looking forward to that.

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