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Bass On Broadway: Interview with Jon Quintero by Ty Campbell

In our third installment of the Bass On Broadway series, we chat with Jon Quintero. Also known to most of us here in Nashville as Jon Q, he is quite busy between gigs on Broadway, road work, and session. Read ON!

Bassist Jon Quintero

What influenced you to choose bass as your main instrument?

You ever hear the phrase “It chose me”?  When I was in my early teens I was singing in a band.  A dude by the name of Matt Huett, no idea why I remember that name, was the bass player.  He was a good enough guy and could play decent but had no ear to pick out bass lines.  I’d spend hours picking out and writing note-for-note bass lines for him (Big Money and Red Barchetta by Rush come to mind) with no musical training  beyond high school choir.  I guess I was training my ear. A couple of years earlier I had purchased an old Gibson EB3,  purely as an investment. I was going to resell it, didn’t know how to play it, but started picking out bass lines for Matt, figuring it would be easier to show him than to write it out. I remember showing him ‘The Real Me’ by The Who one afternoon.  He looked rIght at my hands and then at me and said “You shouldn’t be able to do that yet”.  He didn’t stay as our bassist long after that.  It just came naturally, I suppose.

Do you play any other instruments?

Aside from being a voice major in school I’ve been playing guitar about as long as bass. It was mostly just for fun and campfires, your basic chuka-chuka. I started getting into some pseudo-classicaI stuff by this rock dude Rik Emmet from a band called Triumph and ended up minoring in classical guitar in school and eventually went into songwriting and studio work. I’ve done some Lower Broadway work and a good amount of acoustic shows over the years.

The lower Broadway scene in Nashville is very active. How long have you been performing gigs there?

Man, I’m old. I rolled into town in 93. Breaking into the Broadway scene was really difficult back then. About a year later I lucked into a show at the Wildhorse Saloon.  Michael McDonald was scheduled to show up and do a tune with the band. He never showed, but the show was a blast.  A year later I was doing regular shows in bars that have long since faded away (Planet Hollywood,  Bat Bar, Seaniches, 328 Performance Hall). I left for a while and hit NYC, Baltimore, Atlanta for a few years. I spent most of 2012 working the Northern California circuit.  When I came back it was a whole new game.  I hit Broadway full time again around Feb of last year.

Are you performing with your own groups, subbing, or both?

I’ve been playing full time with an artist since December.  still, there’s sub work and some sessions to be had here and there.

How much do you work on lower Broadway Compared to other gigs, sessions, etc?

It fluctuates over the year.  Winter seems to be the best for sessions, spring has tours beginning to start up and Summer is the huge lower Broadway season.  This winter I’ve been fortunate to have a good steady work flow on Broadway.  I’d say 90% Broadway now but that will drop to around 60% this summer with tour dates getting on the books

Any insight on basic etiquette, what to bring to the table?

Well I’ve learned, the hard way I assure you:
*Let the musicians before you have the stage until they’re done.  Loading up on stage before they’re off can be disrespectful, can breed resentment and has almost started a fight or two (sorry again Ernie). It all works out in the end. It’s not like your band can get off the stage in five minutes. Unless you train for that sort of thing, then well, you probably have other issues.
*The stage is a well lit focal point that everybody can clearly see from all over the bar/club.  Scowls, slouching, sloppiness, disinterest, disagreements and arguments as well as chewing food, texting and Facebooking are ALL visible from the stage.  Think about that when you’re standing there expecting to make a living on customers tips.
*You’re a sideman. You’re there to back up the person that hired you. Live in harmony with the drummer and be supportive of the situation.

How do you handle gigs when you are called to fill in on short notice?

A 5 hour energy, a Monster Rehab and a grape Powerade Zero. After that, trust your hands, trust your ears, and trust your charts.

Who are some of you influences? 

Oh, I’m a Mutt! From Bootsy and Jaco to Entwistle, Geddy, and Levine. Add a dash of Tosh and Jamerson for flavor, I’m all over the board. I’ve Been really digging on Scott Devin out of England these days. 

Final thoughts?

Honestly?  I’m flattered to even be in the room with some of the guys on the list of interviewees.  There’s a great bassist community here that has helped me so much! Look for these guys down here:

Scott Petersen – Zen Master on the 5 string and such a help and guide for me when I first came to town (Hattie B’s!!!)

Charlie Sanborn – Consummate professional and dance master!  He literally opened the doors down here for me and has taught me more on “how to be” over a lunch than anyone ever!

J Kott and Marc Robichaud are guys that will give you direction and advice, help you with work (and, in a pinch, a spare bass when you stupidly forgot yours at home [Thanks Marc!!]) .

And Bobby Turk, heart of gold and helped me land the artist gig I have now.  Fantastic player and harmony singer!

There’s also great facebook group called Nashville Bass Hang as well as Nashville Gig Finder run by Ben Probus (real salt of the earth kinda guy).  They’re both great tools to put in your belt but they’re only tools.  You have to go out and make it happen.

Visit online at facebook.com/JonQmuzik

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