What Made Me Decide to Play Bass:
It’s a family thing. My mom played string bass in college and after in the community orchestra, up until I was born. When we were in 6th grade orchestra and had the ability to switch to string bass, I just had to do it. My mom convinced the orchestra teacher (who didn’t want to lose one of her star cellists) to give me a shot. I still use my mom’s french bow on my NS Design CR-5M EUB when I gig.
Electric bass is a little different; I didn’t want to learn it. I was of that purist jazz mentality that the electric bass was below me. I’d pick it up for jazz band, but wasn’t happy with it. Then in the summer of 1995 when I was in the Blue Lake International Youth Symphony Orchestra, a friend passed me Michael Manring’s album, Thonk, to listen to on the bus between shows. I was amazed at what he was doing with the electric bass! It completely changed my mind about electric bass and now I’m completely in love with the instrument.
I Play Other Instruments Including:
Ukulele. I picked it up as something to play for my daughter (who’s now 9 months), and I’ve been amazed at how much it’s taught me about bass technique. I’ve also been very fortunate to get a lot of gigs playing the ukulele, or even doubling on bass and uke!
I have also dabbled in piano and guitar over the years, but wouldn’t necessarily say I “play” them. Given the amazing musicians I play with that DO play those instruments, I always feel like I’m lessening their talent by saying that I play their instruments when I know just enough to be dangerous. Because of that, I hate going to a show and seeing these musicians play twelve different instruments during a set, and they’re mediocre at half of them but good at only one or two. Put the ego aside and play some music!
Writing, graphic design (it’s the day job), drawing, doing anything with my daughter and wife.
I Asked My Friend Jason Valade (high school friend) about me, and
he/she says that I am the kind of musician (or person)…
Who says what he means and means what he says.
The Question No One Ever Asks Me, But I Have Been Dying to Share:
No one asks my favorite style of music to play, and believe it or not, but it’s dixieland! It’s the foundation of jazz, and if you get a group of guys that really know how to sell it (since it was more for entertainment than cutting sessions) and “ham it up,” it’s a party onstage! You gotta love it!
Favorite Quote or Life Philosophy:
This too shall pass. Nothing is permanent, so if you’re going through some rough times, know that it’ll get better. And if you’re riding high on life, take the time to really be in the moment and appreciate it.
Ray Brown, Slam Stewart, Milt Hinton, Mingus, Michael Manring, Bakhiti Kumalo, Tony Levin, Melvin Gibbs, Jonas Hellborg, Marcus, Jaco, Eugene Rebeck & Ed Fedewa (my two original teachers), Ian Bruce. Also, the many talented people I’ve had the pleasure of playing with; they’ve all pushed me in directions I might not have gone willingly, and I’ve learned a lot from that.
As a predominant theatre musician, my style has to be general enough that I can walk into a weekend of shows and play a variety of styles, but authentic enough so it doesn’t sound like I’m just reading the notes on the page in front of me. However, many of my friends say that there is a definite funk undertone that remains constant in my note choice and tone, and a lyrical quality which I can only say is trying to bring my love of arco bass to the electric.
I am an Artist Endorsee Representing the Following Companies:
Warwick and NS Design Basses, GHS Strings, Levy’s Straps and Gigbags, Gruv Gear, Visual Sound and Black Cat Pedals, Peterson Tuners, Westone Earplugs and Phil Jones Bass amps. I’m extremely humbled with the amount of people I’ve been able to meet through the internet, and grateful for their continued support and friendship.
Most Amazing Gig so Far:
I had the chance to back up Dennis Edwards and the Temptation Review at the local university football stadium. There is nothing so cool as to hear him say “Here’s what we call the Temptations National Anthem” and nod to you to break into the baseline to “My Girl.” The stadium erupted before I knew it, and he looked back and just nodded.
Honestly, I think I have it. I came up through the classical and jazz styles and had two phenomenal teachers early on who were working musicians that stressed the reality of playing for a living. My mom will say that I’d tell her that someday I was going to “do art in the day and play music at night,” and that’s exactly what I’m doing. The icing on the cake is that I have a wife that supports me fully and a daughter that is going to know her dad is a man that is living his dream with his family.
Best NAMM Moment: Not my best per se, but I was offered an Artist Pass from PJB for the 2012 Winter NAMM, and I had to say “I can’t, I have a gig.” I’ve told that to many people over the years, and it never gets easier!
Most Embarrassing Time on Stage:
I showed up to a theatre gig one night and forgot an instrument cable! I was so embarrassed walking up to the Sound Booth and asking if they had one. The sound-woman laughed and said “You know, I was in a band once and I forgot to bring my cymbal bag to a gig!” I quickly replied “Who would be so stupid as to for… uh oh.”
It’s been almost five years, and any time I see that sound woman (who has become a dear friend), she makes sure to work that story into the conversation as a quick jab at me. You can’t live those things down!
Strangest Moment Travelling:
I played a folk festival a couple of summers back and due to the distance, opted to bring my EUB to the gig instead of the upright. When I got there, I was ribbed and ridiculed by the other folk artists because of the bass. It got to the point that during the opening jam, when they pointed to me for a solo I completely threw any musical taste out the window and went for jaw-dropping technical wizardry, which then turned them all into fans.
It was strange to me because I had always viewed the folk scene as that grassroots, super supportive, we’re all in this together genre and yet here I was being judged on my instrument before playing a note.
Favorite Tip to Share on Traveling With Your Bass:
Carry a couple of extra sets of strings because even if you’re in a town with a music store, odds are they won’t have your brand for when you break a string.
Former Bands I Have Played With:
I’ve played with a ton of groups, many of which I’ve forgotten the names of. I’ve gone from country (Slack Jawed Biscuit, Diamond and the Rough) to funk (Too Smooth for Notes) to original rock (Red Heffer, Immigrant Blue) to jazz (the Pete Vanderwaals Orchestra, Tim Drackert Trio, Creole Kitchen). Simply put, I love to play with passionate musicians and if I can do the gig, I’m going to take it.
Current Band(s) I Play With:
My main gig is currently theatre work, so I’m normally found under a pit. When I’m actually allowed onstage, I can be found with Blue Dahlia (an art/rock band that does original scores to silent films) or folk artist Patricia Pettinga.
CD’s I’ve Released/Been a Part Of:
With groups, I’ve recorded albums with the Blue Lake International Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Tim Drackert Trio (jazz fusion), Immigrant Blue (original hard rock) and Unity of Kalamazoo (spiritual). I have my solo bass album tracked and finished, and I’d like to master it and get it up on Bandcamp. It’s been a long time coming and while it isn’t as technically precise and dazzling as some bass albums out there, I am proud of my voice on the album and the songs that I’ve written.
What You Can Look Forward to From Me this Year:
I have taken a “musician liaison” role in the theatre circuit in 2011, and am looking to expand upon that in 2012 to hopefully affect some positive change in our scene. We have a lot of musicians complaining about the pay in the area but are completely unprofessional when they ARE making that money. I’ve been in talks with some of the members of the Local AFM in the hopes that we can do two things: 1. get more compensation and 2. raise the level of professionalism of the local musician so that they are DESERVING of more compensation.
I’ve also been talking with the live entertainment department of a theme park I spent a couple summers at to go back and have a master class or two, focusing on the aspects of being a working musician that no one seems to teach.
artist | bassist