Two more videos from the sessions with Dave Bainbridge

Well, those were two of the most enjoyable days of music making I’ve had in a long time!

Here are two more videos from the recording session today – both of the same tune, the first one is of me recording bass fills between the vocal, and the second one is a bass solo on the same tune… lovely stuff. Dave writes such great progressions for this kind of thing – it’s in a similar vein to tunes like ‘Treasure’, ‘Chi-Rho’, ‘Irish Day’ etc… the big emotional melody songs that Iona did so beautifully on every album.

A lot of the rest of the day was spent working on some prog-tastic basslines. Some fast twiddly, tricky stuff, one of which would be great played with a pick, in a Trip Wamsley stylee… Going to ask Trip for some tips, methinks…

All in, a most enjoyable couple of days, playing great music with Dave – a top bloke and outstanding musician… watch this space for more news about the Open Sky project (3 gigs are booked for July…)

Thoughts and Questions on Originality.

Been having some fantastic conversations with creative people of late on the subject of originality. It’s a subject that seems to lead to wildly different comments and responses from creative people, but rather too often seems to become deified or fetishised to the detriment of the resultant art.

With solo bass being such a niche musical pursuit, I often end up with people thinking that what I do is ‘completely original’, in that listeners outside of the solo bass/looping/etc. cognoscenti have probably never heard anyone doing anything quite like what I’m doing before. It would be very easy for me to claim that I came up with the whole idea and convince people – at least in the moment – that I’m some kind of pioneer in a way that I’m not.

But, it’s also worth noting that some of what I do has been described as ‘pioneering’ and even folks within the ‘scenes’ from which I draw most of my influence have recognised bits of it as being in some way ‘original’.

So what is one to do with that? In both situations the result is that the people involved have another level on which to engage with what I do, but it’s one that holds precious little ‘real’ value.

The first question that comes from this is a) ‘how many records have you ever bought just because the artist was flagged up as ‘original’?’ – and part b) of that question is: of those, how many did you stick with just because it was ‘original’?

The answer to the first bit is probably – if you’re an early adopter and enthusiast like me – ‘a few’. There are a few things I’ve checked out (though these days more via downloads/myspace etc.) that I’ve being pointed to because the persons approach to music making was in some way novel. However, it’s the second half that concerns us – Long term engagement with an artist’s output is based on quality, value and integrity, not gimmick.

This is something that we’re all too aware of when it comes to the marketing aspect of what we do – trying to rebrand dogturds as caviar isn’t going to make people enjoy the taste of dogturds – but originality is trickier because it’s a) less easy to quantify and b) it feels like an artistic consideration first and not a marketing gimmick.

So, here’s the question that will help you to gauge your own reaction to concepts of originality – if everyone in the world did things the way you do, would what you do still have value? In otherwords, when your schtick ceases to be a schtick and just becomes a creative model like ‘being in a band’ or ‘taking photographs’, what is the innate value in the way your story informs the output?

For me, it becomes this – if all the world were solo bassists, would my music as a solo bassist still be worth anything? Or, to frame it in now, ‘what’s the value of what I do to an audience saturated with looped solo bassists?’ This last question is a key one when it comes to putting on ‘branded’ gigs – if I put on a solo bass night, does it water down my brand to the detriment of people’s perception of how ‘original’ I am, or does it just remove the ‘originality/novelty’ element from how they engage with it, and cut to the storytelling?

The reality for me is, as I’ve been telling my students for years, it’s way more important to be ‘good’ than it is to be ‘original’ – a whole load of the willfully obscure experiments that one can end up with when looking for a ‘new sound’ are things that other people have tried and dismissed before inflicting them on an audience.

Influence seems to be the dirty word in so many discussions about originality. The equation seems to go thusly –

Being original is key to my success, therefor I mustn’t experience anyone else’s art that may shape what I do in an overt way because if I hear them, I’ll want to sound like them, and that will ruin my USP (unique selling point), and I’ll be finished as an artist. So as a result, I’ll live my life in seclusion from talented people operating in the same field as me.

This, dear bloglings, is what’s known in the trade as UTTER BOLLOCKS. I’ve seen a few people’s musical paths really messed up due to their phobia of influence. I’ve seen people torture themselves when another band came up with a title similar to the one they wanted for their next album! It’s crippling creatively, but more than that it bears no relation at all to how we relate to art on any non-superficial level.

So from my observation of my own and other people’s reactions to these questions, here are a few thoughts on the creative process as it relates to originality and influence:

  • We are all aggregators: or as Bono put it (possibly quoting someone else) ‘Every artist is a cannibal’. Very very little in the development and progress of human existence has appeared in an intellectual vacuum. Our progress on a macro and micro level is way more often than not evolutionary rather than eureka-moment-driven. We take in our observations of what’s going on around us, filter them through eachother, through the world as we see it, through a complex-but-contained set of experiences and ever-growing opinions and tastes, and decide what to do, what to create, how to create, how to tell our story. Those Eureka moments that do happen are too random to be factorable in steering our creative path. What influences we choose to subject ourselves to is something we’re very much in control of.
  • Influence is influence, whether the influence is from within your own discipline or outside: If I stopped listening to all music, I’d still be shaped in my music making by politics, art, comedy, love, life, illness, nature etc… Everything I do as a musician is shaped by influences, millions of them. Influences won’t negatively impact my art, only unhealthy obsessions will.
  • The problem isn’t influence/no influence, it’s self-awareness or the lack-thereof: People who make great music in isolation won’t suddenly start making crap derivative music if they open themselves up to influence, and likewise people who are so unable to figure out what they want that they just ape someone else’s process to the point of plagarism aren’t suddenly going to discover their creative focus by not listening to their main influences. The problem with obsession is bigger and more fundamental than whether or not your music sounds like another band.
  • Influence is like a diet – it’s the mixture and balance that keeps us healthy: Obsession is not a healthy state to be in. Like eating only potato, or drinking nothing but tea, listening to one artist is going to mess you up. I have for a long time viewed my music listening as a diet, and as such cherish my music listening time like a meal. I avoid junk-food, and crave sumptuous filling meals that meet my dietary requirements. I don’t like eating the same thing day after day, and definitely enjoy the effects of seasonal variation.
  • Style is a medium, not a message – how you say something IS important. Vitally so. But talking shit with a soothing voice is still talking shit.
  • Speaking someone else’s language doesn’t make you think like them, it just makes you able to communicate with the same people they communicate with – this blog doesn’t come across as derivative just because it’s in English. None of us trawl the interwebs looking for ‘new languages’ just because they’re new. Language is there to communicate ideas.
  • Storytelling is an artform that exploits shared history and narrative form: If you’re telling your story through music, things that are familiar have a different resonance from things that are completley alien to both artist and listener. This is one of the reasons why so many creative musicians still find so much to stay within the confines of ‘blues’ – despite the restrictions of the form, there’s still so much great original music that’s coming out that is blues-based and blues-influenced. The language, imagery and resonance of the blues still provides a channel for so many people’s unique stories.
  • the quest to be original might actively prevent you from soundtracking your world: If I attempted to do away with my influences, most of the stuff that makes my music important to me would vanish; the melodic forms, the chord progressions derived from folk, pop and jazz idioms, the phrasing that I’ve absorbed from Joni Mitchell, Bill Frisell or Michael Manring, the bass techniques that I’ve nicked from Trip Wamsley or Victor Wooten. What makes me sound like me is the combination of everything that goes into my music. I throw it all into the mixing pot, and out comes my music. I practice to learn more about how to channel the feelings and emotions that those independent influences bring out in me, and look to find the right amount and blend of ingredients to make me feel the way the combination of all of them makes me feel.

So, where does all this leave me? Well, right now, I’m working on a new album, or at least, I’m getting ideas together to start working on a new album. Some of that involves working out what’s physically possible with the Looperlative, but a lot of it is working out what I want to say and how best to say it. So I’m putting myself on a fairly strict diet. A diet that will contain a whole range of music that generates the kind of response in me that I want from my own music. I’ll be listening to a lot of The Blue Nile, Joni Mitchell, Eric Roche, Rosie Thomas, Theo Travis, Alan Pasqua, Nels Cline, Bill Frisell, and then a whole bunch of extreme stuff in as many directions as I can to help me push back the walls that define the stylistic parameters of what I’ve done up until now.

And how I deal with notions of Originality and their value or otherwise impacts every minute of my practice time – do I get frustrated when I play something and it reminds me of some other musician, or do I use that as a model for saying something in their language? Do I get fixated with listening to other solo bassists because I am one, or do I realise that solo bass is in the grand scheme of things nothing to do with whether my music is any good or not, and look at developing the component parts of my musical narrative via influences that are best at those bits – for example, looking to singers for melodic influence, pianists for harmony, and classical guitarists for phrasing and shaping chord/melody ideas?

The end result of this is whether or not you hear those influences, the music is 100% me. It might be a different angle on me that hasn’t come out in other ways before. It might be me as expressed through the playing of other musicians on music that I’ve written for them, but it will be a combination of all the various influences that make me want to do what I do, and will at the same time be both entirely derivative and completely original.

Trip Wamsley's blog…

Sometimes bloggers just get on a roll. Sometimes people who blog on myspace get lost in Myspace. Trip Wamsley’s myspace blog is far too entertaining just for myspace. Trip, cross post to a proper blog thing, so more peoples can read your excellent rantings and ravings.

Go and have a read, it’s a wonderful insight into a world where endless creativity and benign insanity meet.

Jeff Schmidt's new album…

The bass-heads amongst you may well have heard of Jeff Schmidt – he’s a solo bassist from the States, and has just released his debut album, Outre. It’s a lovely record, most of it on piccolo bass in a similar ball-park to Michael Manring and Trip Wamsley, with a fair amount of influence from the nu-acoustic guitar crowd – Don Ross, Michael Hedges, Preston Reid etc.

Jeff’s also a regular at the masterclass that I give in Northern California each year in January, but the reason I’m blogging about it – other than it being a lovely album that you should hear – is that he’s previewing it via a Podcast which you can subscribe to here for free – Jeff’s pretty good at dissecting what he does and why, so the podcast will make for interesting listening for any musician, not just bassists (he doesn’t sound much like a bassist anyway… ;o) You can find the podcast on iTunes as well, just do a search on ‘jeff schmidt’.

Oh, and if you want to buy the download of the album you can get it here for the ridiculous price of $7 – that’s what I did, and it sounds great…

Two gigs that didn't really live up to their billing.

I’ve been to two ‘cool’ gigs in the last week – I’m not really one for cool gigs, preferring to avoid things that are either a) over-hyped or b) feature drums (the latter being due to my deep loathing of overly loud music…)

Anyway, last week I went to see Mogwai at Somerset House, and on Monday to see Squarepusher AKA Tom Jenkinson with Evan Parker at the QEH.

the Mogwai gig was OK. just OK. They played well, Somerset House is a great place for a gig, but… but none of it really went anywhere – I REALLY want to love Mogwai. There are bits about what they do that I really like. I love the big guitar sounds, I enjoy the fiddling around with odd time signatures and displaced beats etc. But it seems like their fear of turning into some sort of post-rock answer to Pink Floyd stops them from adding any BIG tunes to their stuff. So you get a handful of notes played over the wall of guitars on keyboard, or heavily processed voice, but it never goes stratospheric… or rather is very rarely does – the last two tunes they did before the Encore were getting there. Some great moments in those. So a good gig, but as they say on the interwebs it was all a bit ‘meh’.

And then to the QEH – I must preface this by saying that Squarepusher is without doubt one of the most interesting, iconoclastic and influential electronic artists in the UK, if not the world – his records are full of amazing compositions, incredible production, fascinating harmony and the maddest most sublime rhythmic programming you’ve ever heard. AND, most importantly in this context, some breathtaking bass playing. Really really amazing bass playing. Crazy fast funky magical bass playing.

This gig was, unbeknownst to me, a ‘solo bass gig’. The first set was just Tom and a 6 string bass. Before it started, I REALLY wanted to like it, I was hoping it was going to blow me away. But half way through the set, I was already drafting this blog and trawling through what he was doing desperately trying to find something positive to drag from it to contrast with the overwhelming impression that it was utter nonsense. A load of largely poor executed arpeggios – a range of techniques, few of them done particularly well, rattled off like a NAMM show demo by a kid with ADD.

I genuinely have no idea what Tom was aiming for. I have no idea what part of his strange and wonderful and clearly at times baffling musical world he was exploring with this, but one thing I’ve heard him say in interviews was writ large over the whole gig – he claims he doesn’t listen to much other music, avoids influence. And in the case of this gig, that’s exactly why he sounded like a solo bassist of about 15-20 years ago, making all the same overly twiddly ‘we can be as fast and wanky as guitarists’ mistakes that everyone else made back then, without attaching anything musical to it. Perhaps if he’d allowed himself to listen to Michael Manring or Jonas Hellborg, Trip Wamsley or Victor Wooten, it might have given him insight into some other musical paradigm possible with solo bass. But it really did absolutely nothing for me at all. I would LOVE to know what he thought of it. The audience – possibly the friendliest crowd I’ve ever come across – gave him a rapturous reception, to my utter amazement. Were they huge Squarepusher fans that would have applauded if he’s just taken a dump on the stage? Were they bass players easily impressed by a bunch of fairly sloppy overly fast arpeggiated chords? Or did they love it? Did I completely miss what he was trying to do? I’m guessing not, given that I’m pretty much slap bang in the middle of his target audience – a huge fan of his usual output, and someone who’s been interested in and exploring the whole idea of solo bass for nearly 20 years.

So the second half? Well, it started with out of the most remarkable bits of soprano sax playing I’ve ever heard, from Evan Parker – Evan has been a mainstay (and driving force behind) the UK free improv scene for 40 something years. A true giant of the instrument. And tonight he proved why. The piece was a technical, sonic and mesmerising tour de force, making a completely unprocessed soprano sax sound like at least four instruments intertwined. unbelievable.

And the evening finished with a free duo between the two of them, which was much better than the first half – Tom delved deep into the canon of well used free improv techniques, but that’s a good thing – he’d done his homework for sure, and created some lovely textures and interesting rhythms, whilst listening to and reacting to Evan’s glorious sax playing. It rescued the bass part of the evening for me, but I’m still baffled as to what on earth the first half was about…

Today on the tube, I put on his album ‘Go Plastic’ on the iPod. Yup, it’s incredible. Amazing stuff. He really is a genius. I then listened to the London Sinfonietta playing one or two of his pieces, and that too was great.

I hope he keeps going with solo bass, cos when he gets it right, I’m sure it’ll be amazing, and as with everything else he does, it’ll be unlike what anyone else has done with it. But on the strength of this show, I hope he does the rest of the exploration either behind closed doors or in a workshop setting…

…did you just call me Pardner???

We’re here in Texas. Plano, just outside Dallas to be precise. It seems like a rather lovely place – still strip-mall-based, like so many american cities, but definitely a better class of strip mall than most (and a huge Whole Foods market to be explored…)

We’s here for a house concert tonight – the house is gorgeous, and the concert is going to be marvellous.

Now where did I blog from last? Ah, yes, Nashville – well the Nashville house concert at Sarah and David’s was a whole lot of fun – we set up on their front porch, blankets were laid out in the yard, and we played for lots of lovely friends, surrounded by fairy lights, candles and the sounds of crickets between songs. A most enjoyable evening was had by all, and the duo stuff between the lovely L and I just gets better and better. Her ability to ‘learn’ a loop after one listen is uncanny, and to stack harmonies on something that seems pretty random… She also bought a gorgeous new guitar – a nylon-strung takamine that sounds incredible. Really relaly lovely, and got for a fantastic bargain at Nashville Used Music, or whatever that big shop out on Nolansville road is called.

So favourite things about Nashville? the people, Fido’s, Baja Burrito, the gig, TOGH being there, The Belcourt (Sheriff ElRon and I went to see Rock The Bells – a film about delusional people putting on the last ever gig by all the members of the Wu Tang Clan (though even with ODB being dead, I’m sure they could just get Shane McGowan to fill in, and people would just think Dirty was looking a little pasty…)… Nashville is a town full of good things (and rubbish, it is the home of CCM too, and therefor plays host to much of the most mediocre nonsense ever produced in the name of popular music, as well as the occasional gem…) and certainly somewhere both L and I could live if pushed…

From there we embarked on what i think is the longest drive of my life (yup, I just checked, this was the previous winner) – 700 and something miles from Nashville to Lake Charles Louisiana. Which was, to be honest, a pretty easy drive. Freeways here are much much clearer in general than motorways in the UK, (if you’re not in or around NYC, LA, Chicago or San Francisco), so we never seem to hit much traffic, and just drive from one place to another at 70 mph all the way. In our extensive research, we’ve discovered that IHOP and Denny’s do the best options for vegetarians on the highways of the US. TGI Fridays is shit, Waffle House isn’t actually food, and the burger places are all horrible, with indie places being either non-existent, or really risky in their quality… so we’re happy for IHOP and Denny’s.

The trip to Louisiana was for a house concert at Trip Wamsley’s house – Trip, as y’all know, is one of my most favouritest solo bassists in the world, and fun to hang out with too… it was nice to witness him in his natural habitat, for sure.

The gig was really lovely – Trip played first, and played really well, as always, then L and I got to do our thing, and had much fun, sold a load of CDs, and all was good.

On Sunday, i put down a load of bass tracks for a track on Trip’s new album, and realised just what a HUGE improvement putting this ART tube preamp in the FX loop on my Lexicon has made. It sounded incredible. I can’t wait to hear what Trip does with it. The evening was spent watching Ross Noble DVDs, and hanging out. Much fun at the Trip-house with Trip, Mrs Trip and lil’ Bubba Trip.

And so on into Texas, heading from Chez Trip to Plano TX, from where I’m writing this, trying to decide whether to walk or drive to Whole Foods – how far was it again??

Oh, and the title? We stopped in a auto-mart or some such place, to get directions, and the dude behind the counter actually called me ‘Pardner’ (as in Partner with a silly accent, for all you Englishes) – indeed. He sadly didn’t say ‘you ain’t from around here are you boy?’, but there’s still time for that…

Tour blog Pt II – Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia…

Right, continuing the story of the tour – from Grand Rapids we drove to Akron to swap the crappy tiny car (which served us v. well for the Northern bit of the tour) for a lovely rental car with A/C – yay!! marvellous. Renting the car was a bit of an ordeal – the poor dear at the airport rental place in Akron had never seen a British driving license, so it took a while…

From there we drove to Cincinnati (this was all on the same day as the drive from Grand Rapids… lotsa miles…) and arrived at Ric Hordinski’s place at about 11ish… Ric is a fabulous guitarist, gigs as ‘Monk’, used to be in Over The Rhine, produces lots of marvellous records for other people, and owns a gorgeous studio in an old church, called The Monastery, which is where we stayed… Great to see Ric, fo’ sho’.

the next day was spent putting some spacey stuff down on a track for Ric’s new album (the rest of the tracks I heard sound amazing), then heading down to Rohs Street Cafe where the gig was. It’s a gorgeous, spacious coffee-shop venue, with a nice PA, and really lovely staff. The whole vibe of the place is fair trade and mellow, with stacked book-cases all over the place and lovely drinks.

The gig was a lot of fun – small crowd (the story of our lives), but lots of lovely friends there, and by now L and I are playing really well…

The next morning we head off on another stoopid long drive – this time to Richmond Virginia. The drives across this part of the States are stunning. West Virginia is so covered in trees that the hills look like giant broccoli plants, all green and bobbly. Finding edibles on the road is tricky for a pair of veggies who don’t like filling their faces with too many chemicals, but we do OK.

We arrive in Richmond pretty late, at the lovely and marvellous Greta’s place in a really cool part of town.

Sleeps, followed by a fantastic veggie breakfast, and a walk round an old cemetery, about half full of civil war graves – this is an area with a REALLY chequered history, as JamesTown, the port of the James River, was one of the main off-loading points for the slave ships back in the day… Anyway, the trip round the cemetery with Greta and her amazing dad was a lovely walk on a scorching hot day and an education.

Back to the house to do washing, then head off to Richmond Music Centre, in search of preamps, reverb units and keyboard stands – #s 1 and 3 on that list are procured – a lil’ ART tube preamp which sounds great, and a cheap-ass keyboard stand. All good nothing bad.

The gig is a house concert hosted by the marvellous and lovely Jay and Crystal – their four-car garage makes for a fabulous lil’ concert venue, and thanks to the ever-wonderful, resourceful and street-team-alicious Justin, and Roy, the PA sounds really great too. The gig was fab, the first half being a mixture of tunes and bass-clinic Q and A, the second half more straight song oriented. Lots of CDs solo, new friends made, all good once again. Big big thanks to Jay and Crystal, Greta, Justin and Roy…

The next morning we leave the house at 7am to head for West Virginia – a 530 mile drive (London to Inverness, basically), more gorgeousness. L does most of the driving today, and the only downer is a dodgy breakfast in some crappy lil’ diner…

The Morgantown/Grafton area is L’s hometown, so much visiting of relatives and friends ensues, before heading to the venue – Gallery 62 West – a lovely little community arts gallery. Dinner is procured at W*lM*rt (I know, I know) and we are promptly both poisoned by it, rendering us both v. v. ill in the run-up to the show…

Somehow we manage to balance the trips to the ‘bathroom’, and both play without any sudden mid-song disappearances – me first, then L, the lots of duo fun. Another fab gig in front of a really really friendly audience – full marks to Josh Trout for driving the furthest on this one (Josh is a v. old cyber-chum – the story of this tour has been meeting people I previously only knew in the virtual world..) big ole WV thanks to Kevin Ford for making this one happen.

An even earlier start is planned for the longest of the drives so far – Grafton to Decatur (on the outskirts of Atlanta) – alarm goes of at 5 and we hear… flapping… flapping???? Light goes on and there’s an effing BAT in the room!!! Flying around, landing on the curtain then flying around again. Much squealing ensues, before bat escapes, followed closely by us escaping to a bat-free car… much fun, and definitely a help in waking up!

A very easy drive down gets us into Atlanta mid afternoon, we find Darren and Cindy’s place for the house concert, and set up. this show also features Darren Michaels and Trip Wamsley, who both play great sets. We play in the middle (after a tussle with Trip over who gets to play second – we win thanks to having been awake for 16 hours already at this point…) – our set goes great, L sings like an angel, much CD sellage takes place, new friends made, all good and, indeed, nothing bad. click here to see loads of photos from the gig… Darren and Cindy definitely know how to put on a stylish house concert. hurrah for D & C!

which brings us to today – finally a day of rest. On a sunday no less. up v. late, much internetage, followed by an some Ross Noble on DVD, followed by an afternoon in Decatur. and no driving. Yay!

So on to Nashville… hurrah! We’ll be there at the same time as the TAFKASJ, which is something to muchly look forward to, as is giggling at the lovely Rachel’s fabulously confused Scottish/Rural Tennessee accent!

more soon… what have I missed??

Tour starts tomorrow! Yay!

So the tour starts tomorrow, in Detroit, then onto Toledo on Thursday, and Grand Rapids Friday/Saturday. And we get to see Sarda, Kari and Ralston in GR, which is great.

Today’s going to be more rehearsing and making sure we’ve got everything together.

It’s going to be funnnn! Here’s the list of dates so far…

5.23.07 Low Down Sound, Detroit MI (clinic/masterclass)
5.24.07 Mickey Finn’s Pub, Toledo OH
5.25.07 Quinn and Tuite’s, Grand Rapids, MI
5.26.07 Four Friends, Grand Rapids MI
5.29.07 Rohs Street Cafe, Cincinnati OH
5.31.07 House Concert/Bass Clinic, Richmond VA
6.01.07 Gallery 64 West, Grafton, WV
6.02.07 Solo Bass House Concert w/ Trip Wamsley and Darren Michaels, Decatur GA
6.09.07 House Concert with Trip Wamsley Sulphur LA
6.14.07 Cafe Caffeine with Brady Muckleroy, Austin, TX
6.15.07 Mochas & Javas with Brady Muckleroy, San Marcos TX

drop me an email or a myspace message if you need more info on any of the shows – see you there!

NAMM over for another year




Me and Lee Sklar

Originally uploaded by solobasssteve.

Wow, a crazy NAMM weekend – very little time for anything outside of NAMMness, hence the lack of blogging, but a great weekend nonetheless. One of the things I did this year that I always forget to do was to take a few pictures with people I like, such as this one with Lee Sklar – Lee’s an incredible bassist, and very very lovely man, who has been very complimentary about what I do for a long time. A great bloke and an amazing musician. go and check out my other Flickr photos for some others, including one of me with Alex Webster, the bassist from Cannibal Corpse – a lovely friendly guy who bought a CD and I gave an impromptu lesson to… completely at odds with the utterly sickening lyrics on a lot of their stuff… Never judge a book by it’s cover, or a bassist by the twistedness of his band’s album covers (sensitive readers are advised not to do a google search on CC’s album sleeves)…

OK, let’s catch up on the last few days – Thursday daytime was spent playing on the Looperlative and Accugroove booths, then the evening was The NAMM Bass Bash, where I was playing with Trip Wamsley. I was told it started at 7, but I got there at about 6.30 and TRip was already on stage playing!! So I set up next to him and joined in – we did a rather cool spacey version of Behind Every Word, which went into a huge sprawling ambient thing that briefly morphed into Radar Love… not sure what happened there. Still, Trip was on top form, playing beautifully. The rest of the evening was spent with friends – Doug and Vida, Claudio Zanghieri, Jeff Schmidt, Todd Johnson and Kristin Korb (whose duo set was amazing), Steve Bailey, Gary Husband and others… Much fun.

Friday day was more playing for Accugroove, Looperlative and Modulus, and in the evening a bit of a bass player hang for dinner with Peter Murray, Claudio Zanghieri, Dave Freeman, Chris Tarry| and Yves Carbonne – all great musicians and lovely people. Then late night I drove up to Hollywood to see Doug Lunn and Alex Macachek play with Terry Bozzio’s trio, which was excellent as always.

Saturday back at the show, yadda yadda, and in the evening was invited to play a house concert with the delightful and truly wonderful Vicki Genfan, which as with most of those kinds of gigs involved playing gorgeous music and wonderful people in a great house. What a fun night!

And today, the last day of the show, demoing the Looperlative, playing with Claudio at Modulus and catching up with more friends that I hadn’t seen over the rest of the weekend. All good nothing bad.

So all in a great time – here’s a partial list of the lovely people I got to catch up with, albeit briefly in the case of some of them – Claudio Zanghieri, Peter Murray, Kerry Getz, Anderson Page, Chris Tarry, Dominique Di Piazza, Hadrien Ferraud, Jonas Hellborg, Markus Setzer, Trip Wamsley, Jeff Schmidt, Gary Husband, Vicki Genfan, Thomas Leeb, Doug Wimbish, Yves Carbonne, Stu McKensie, Scott Panzera, Todd Johnson, Kristin Korb, Jake Kott, Mark Wright, Bob Amstadt, Lowell Packham, Jerry Watts, Doug and Vida, Lyle Workman, Jeff Campitelli, Lee Sklar, Leo Nobre, Alex Webster, Lynne Davis, Ron Garant, Justin Medal Johnson, Ed Friedland, EE Bradman, Bill Leigh, Terry Buddingh, Jean Baudin, Jeremy Cohen, Max Valentino, Norm Stockton, Joe Zon, Seth Horan, Marcus Miller, Monster, Steve Bailey, Alessandra Belloni, Joe Perman, Muriel Anderson, Alain Caron, Tony Levin… the list goes on and on, and I’ll add to it if you email me and remind me that we met and I’ve left you off – it’s 1am and I’m getting sleepy!

So, NAMM over for another year, lots of follow up to do now for gigs, teaching and new friends. All good nothing bad.

masterclass at ACM

Had a most enjoyable afternoon giving a masterclass at the Academy Of Contemporary Music in Guildford – I’ve been there a few times before, both with Michael Manring and with Trip Wamsley, but it was nice to go and do a session all by myself. Stefan Redtenbacher who runs the bass dept there had asked me to speak on the transition from music student to pro, so I chatted a fair bit about the kind of things that people actually make money out of these days (having to break it to them that being a ‘session musician’ pretty much no longer exists as a career path) and some of the skills that have helped me out. I played a handful of my own tunes (Behind Every Word, improv groovy thing, Deeper Still and excerpts of Knocks Me Off My Feet and What A Wonderful World) and played a couple of the New Standard tunes from the laptop.

Lots of great questions were asked, and I certainly had a lot of fun – hopefully they did too!