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Unsung Heroes of Bass – Mike Frost

Do you have an unsung hero of Bass? Is there someone who touched you musically, professionally, inspirationally, or educationally that made a difference to you, your playing, and your connection with the instrument and music associated with the bass? This forum is dedicated to your heroes of bass so you may sing their song about how they helped you stay connected and inspired to everything bass. Want to nominate someone? Connect with me on the Bass Musician Magazine Community (Membership is free).

Over the years I’ve been turned on like the rest of you by the big names in Bass (Stanley, Jaco, Squire, Entwistle, Carter, McCartney). I got their autographs, went to their concerts, and bought their Albums. They became part of me, but were not personal to me. These guys were the Heroes of bass just like Superman is to all of us.

In talking to my Bass loving peers over the past 30+ years. I realized that we all have something in common that keeps us magnetized to Bass. It’s that person who made the connection with me personally, and everything bass. This unsung hero of bass is what keeps us connected as a community and extends our passion to our daily lives and outlook. I’d like to tell you briefly about my Unsung Hero of Bass.

I’m 50 years old, and started taking bass lessons 3 years ago after 25 years of not playing. I got the name of this bass teacher Mike Frost, and immediately began connecting with him. He reset my outlook on how to approach the instrument, got my skills up to a basic level (when I was 18 I thought I was good; at 47 I knew I sucked) and gave me a comfort factor on how to approach the bass from a new perspective. He found a way to break the barrier and taught me how to feel the bass versus just playing it. He took me through theory and styles, and now I am reasonably competent to the point where I feel good about myself, and my playing. When I go to some of the lessons or transcriptions in this magazine, they now click in my brain…it becomes easier to absorb other peoples influences. When I play in my rock band, I get to drive the music like a bass player should.

Throughout this entire process I got to know Mike Frost personally as the player and artist he is. I get to sit in awe and see him rip his 6 string bass in ways that are inspirational. He took me through his early experiences with Fodera, Abe Rivera, and others in NY, and how he collaborated on the Clifford Roi basses he uses today. He gave me perspectives on sonic issues and tone. He exposed me to all his influences and input into how he absorbed music. When I see him play publically, I know what’s making him tick. I am connected to what I think is a superhero of bass.

And it goes both ways. In one of my lessons, Mike was helping me find a pocket…to play simply and leave space.  We started a groove. It kinda of stuck, and Mike took it and made music with it which became the title track of his new CD that he just released called “Riddle me This?” (Find it on www.mcfrost.com). I helped him create music…wow!

So my Unsung Hero of Bass keeps me personally connected across many dimensions of Bass. I am now a much better player than I ever imagined being (and know I have a long way to go). I have a growing collection of instruments, and the proud owner of a Clifford Roi Bass.  I’ve experienced different styles, techniques, and approaches to bass and made them mine. And I have a personal connection with an unbelievable superstar of bass, Mike Frost, and my contributions to him show up in what he does and plays.

So I have told you my story about Mike, my Unsung Hero of Bass. Who is your Unsung Hero?  Please write in and let me know on the Bass Musician Magazine Community. I’ll bet that some of you have stories about the staff right here at Bass Musician Magazine & Community.

And here’s the secret. You can keep reading the articles about the same players over and over again. You’ll keep getting the same highly marketed information from the major manufactures. So unless you speak up and keep your peers connected to what’s important to you about bass, you’ll never really get the complete value and benefit from how YOU make our bass community something unique and compelling to us all.

I look forward to hearing your stories

Chris

 

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Jeff Langston

    June 2, 2011 at 7:22 am

    GREAT ARTICLE and so on point!! Knowing Mike “Frosty” Frost for 4 or 5 years now, I can tell you … the man is the Coolest, Hippest, Nicest “Mad Man” on any bass he puts in his hands. I remember feeling nervous and indimidation going to my first lesson with him. I had been playing for 23+ years at the time and playing professionally for 20 of those and knew I was about to walk into uncharted terrirtory. However, the nerves and intimidation left the building once we got started. That’s the kind of guy “Frosty” is! He puts you at ease and is not interested in how many licks, chords, scales or theory you know. He makes it more about the individual and what THAT person can do on the bass and make it a “personal sound” as opposed to getting the sound he has. As a player (to which I have shared the stage with him) he reminds me of that “Rich Uncle Coming to Visit” with a deep pocket full of silver dollars to give to all his nieces and nephews. He straps on the bass – downbeat starts – he’s in the pocket. But, every once in a while, he reaches in his pocket with a smile, and brings out a “Silver Dollar” lick that is so perfect and fitting. Like when the “Uncle” tosses the kids some money and says, with a smile “here kid … this is for you. Enjoy!!”

  2. Andy Perdue

    June 8, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Great article, my inspiration has always been a friend of mine, Jaco who I hung around with and played with in the 60’s. I think he was still in high school. I played violin & acoustic guitar back then. I still keep in contact with his wife. I recently took up electric bass. I email Will Lee when I have problems (another UM grad). I feel I need to take some lessons, going from the high end to the low end is challenging, not the music, reading etc. hell I teach music. Just need to get further faster. I’m in the Orlando area, anyone know of any teachers here. Thanks. Everyone keep rockin…Peace

  3. Lowell Levene-Sims

    June 14, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Chris, I really enjoyed what you had to say in this article and it shed light on why I have become the kind of player I’ve become.

    First, at the end of your article you make the point that we read about the same bass players time and time again I couldn’t agree more and this has been an odd wedge between myself and the bass community at large. Listen to these players – play this bass – buy this amp – play these styles!!! Over and over this is what we are fed as bassists, never “pick up your instrument and play whatever you feel”

    My mentor – if you will – was a guitar player named Lonnie King – who I happened tp encounter in a free improvisation setting one afternoon in Seattle many years ago. At the time he was in a band called IMIJ who were signed to Capitol Records. They were an all black band that combined an off the charts political punk mentality with a female singer who could give James Brown a run for his money and instrumentalists that just had something “different” about them. Add to this a penchant for free improvisation and my mind was blown!

    At this time my band had just been dropped from MCA without our debut ever seeing the light of day and I was seriously considering giving up the bass.That day I was introduced to a musical movement that could involve the bass being a prominent fixture or nonexistent when it chose to be – even *gasp* forgetting about the groove and instead focusing only on harmonic color, feel and connectivity within the collective. That day was the biggest revelatory experience in my musical life to that point. That summer I was involved in free form “jams” that sometimes went on for as long as 9 yes… NINE hours.
    That was liberation – all thanks to meeting Lonnie King!

    I’ve never looked back – and – I have never again knelt at the altar of any bassist – we all play the same instrument – but we have not even begun to scratch the surface of what we can do with the bass guitar.
    There i so much more to this beautifully expressive instrument than the groove(which I by no means am slagging) and slapping and tapping and shredding and expensive basses and gear.

    The Jacos and Stanley’s and all those who have come after deserve the accolades for their foundation laying work. I think it’s high time we got a little crazy with the rest of the musical architecture 😉

    Thanks again for bringing up a great point and for providing me an opportunity to say how I feel… I am so glad you have had your revelatory moment as well !!! Have a wonderful day!

    Lowell

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