Bass Day UK

Well, yesterday was a landmark for me. The first time I’ve ever been to a bass day-style event that I haven’t been playing at! Needed to find out what kind of low-end hell we musos were inflicting on the great unwashed, after all.

So, long drive up to Manchester for Bass Day UK. LOOOONG drive. but Sunday morning’s an easy time for traffic. It was at the Life Cafe in the city, same place as last year (when I did play at it). Potentially a nice venue, but last year they ran out of food half way through the day, and this year they just didn’t even bother having any to start with! Ah well, Subway did a roaring trade.

These bass day things are all about people for me – occasionally there’s some great music, but a lot of what happens is people who don’t normally play solo doing their thing over a backing track, or some fairly rudimentary looping. Which is fine, and works well for bass-day-type crowds. It’s just not something that I’d choose to go out of the house to listen to.

So musically, the highlights for me were the delightful and wonderful Yolanda Charles and her MamaYo band, and Stefan Redtenbacher’s Funkestra. Stef I’ve known for years, and he’s a fantastic player, genuinely great person, friend and makes me laugh more than almost anyone. His band are amazing, so worth the drive to Manchester just for him. Yolanda’s band featured to wonderful and lovely Miles Bould on drums, who I’ve been listening to do for the best part of 15 years, and a couple of great guitar players. Both bands were funky, raw, danceable, fierce, fun and life-affirming. Just great.

I also enjoyed hearing Jonas Hellborg play – he was also looping in some interesting ways, changing the loop every few bars, and using a reverse delay that sounded lovely. Good stuff.

Always nice to catch up with friends too – Janek Gwizdala was playing, and did an exquisite solo version of a Mike Stern ballad. So nice to catch up with him. Same for Adam Nitti – an amazing bass player from Nashville, who sounded the best I’ve ever heard him. Great playing, great sound.

it’s all about the people – new friends like Yolanda and Miles and Lucy Shaw, and old friends like Stef and Steph, Mike Sturgis, Marco, Janek, the guys from, the organisers Stevie, Jono and Pris, and loads of other great people. All in all a v. fine day. The great music was a bonus, the not-so-great music wasn’t a distraction (when did you last see 8 or 10 acts on one day and love them all? :o) – all in, it’s great to have a UK Bass Day that seems sustainably big, is booking interesting music, and getting supported by companies and the industry. All good, nothing bad.

Got back home at gone 3.30, and had to be up at 9 to teach, so am suffering now. But was well worth it.

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