Back at Darbucka for the first time this year, last night was my solo bass night gig with Yolanda Charles and Todd Johnson. It was a pretty special evening on a few different levels. Firstly, it was Yolanda’s first EVER completely solo gig – this is a bassist who has played to live audiences in their hundreds of thousands, and TV audiences of millions, who was SOOO nervous before she went on! She needn’t have been, as she was fantastic. Yo is without doubt one of the finest funk bassists I’ve ever seen. We’re talking Pino-with-D’Angelo level funk. Her feel is amazing, the basslines are slinky, and she’s got a really lovely voice. The entire room was rapt. Just marvellous.
Second reason it was special was that it was Todd’s first ever gig in Europe, let alone the UK… I’ve been fan of Todd’s playing for years, and his knowledge of jazz chording on the 6 string bass is pretty much second to none. His music is straight down the line jazz, but he does it so well, his gimmick is just being great at it.
I played between the two of them, and as usual for a Darbucka gig, it was fine, though I didn’t play particularly well – I’ve kind of resigned myself to the knowledge that if I’m organising, compering, loading in and setting up the gear and then playing, one of those things is going to suffer, and given that it’s the last one, it’s usually the playing. It’s not that I was shit, just that I wasn’t as on top of my game as I should be for a gig like that. I did one new improv piece, and was, as it were, hoist by my own petard… it was a couple of different ideas I’d been working on over the last few days, but it fairly quickly went in a different direction from where I thought it was going, and unlike on a gig where I’m all prepared for such things, it threw me a bit, and I ended up thinking ‘was that any good?’ – the feel on it was nice, and there were some marvellously random moments when I’d forgotten about stuff I’d sampled at the beginning and wanted to bring back later, which suddenly appeared to my great surprise… Finished with a really nice version of ‘Kindness Of Strangers’ though, which was good.
A really lovely crowd – Darbucka gigs for me work on a lot of different levels – it’s a really lovely environment in which to play, and the owner is very supportive of what I bring there. It’s a chance to try out new ideas, new line-ups and have some fun, and it’s a way of building an on-going rapport with the audience, as there’s no pre-conceived notion of how to present a show there, so I define it myself. Which involves talking a lot of bollocks and making the evening as much about having fun as it is about hearing great music.
My audience doesn’t grow particularly quickly through it, but each time people bring friends, or the other artists draw people in, and they wouldn’t have seen me before. I never sell more than a couple of CDs there as most of the audience who want my CDs already have them, but it’s such a lovely venue.
Anyway, I’m REALLY looking forward to the gig in Milton Keynes on March 16th – me, Yolanda and Kev Cooke, and Lobelia will be with me so we’ll get to do some of our songs – that’s what I miss the most now on all-solo gigs, getting to do those songs…by