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Why Is Music Important? by B.A. Johnson

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Meet B.A. Johnson

When I was first asked by my friend Jake Kot to write a piece about the importance of music, I wasn’t sure how to go about the task. So, I began a period of “free-style rambling” that slowly coalesced into a stream of thought that seemed viable enough to share with our readers at Bass Musician Magazine! I also thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to create a new series for the magazine in which I would ask the same questions to members of the writing team and other notable bassists in our community – in order to compare answers from influential players, across the spectrum of genre, and over a period of time! HMMM… This might be more fun that I bargained for! That said the daunting task of interviewing myself remained. So, here are my thoughts on the subject…

Who are your primary musical influences?

Wow. Uh… do you mean today?! (Laughter) As far as bassists are concerned, I would like to site Michel Alibo, Jaco Pastorius, John Patitucci, Jimmy Haslip, Richard Bona, Otiel Burbridge, MeShell NdegeOcello, Matthew Garrison, Tony Grey and Janek Gwizdala as the bassist I find myself listening to most often this past decade. Wayne Krantz, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Thelonius Sphere Monk, Steve Khan, and a bunch of others round out my “favorite musicians” list.

Having said that… I have to say my earliest favorite tunes were “All Right Now” by Free, and “Turn Down Day” by The Cyrkle! I love RUSH, Yes, and a lot of rock in addition to Sly & The Family Stone, EW&F, Mandrill and what became the fallout music of black society in the 1960’s through the mid-1970’s. I really dig MeShell because her approach reminds me most of that time in musical history. Another favorite group that reminds me of that time-period would be Aquarium Rescue Unit. I’ve always really dug that fusion of American musical genres that produces its own genre! Living Colour struck a chord with me… But, it also reminded me to re-listen to the Bus Boys, Mother’s Finest, and Rare Earth!

Americans have a memory problem, it appears… America is the home of blues, rock ‘n’ roll, folk, bluegrass, R&B, soul, funk… and jazz!

The “British Invasion” of the 1960’s handed “race music” back to white teenagers who weren’t being allowed to listen to it due to societal stigma and racism. Now, we have groups like Sixun handing American “jazz fusion” back to us – because in the US there’s no place to play, nor hardly a means to make a living as a musician in this country! America has never felt the need to cherish its contribution to the world’s musical lexicon. Very sad.

Music, American music, is a cultural facet we simply cannot afford to lose! What happens after there’s nothing to see but big-screen TV’s and pool tables? Jazz Clubs are nearly non-existent, and the Blues Bar is swiftly following suit. American Idol is how the average American understands music and musicianship.

How does your personal musical voice directly relate to the function of the basses? Also, what are your main instruments?

Man, I love to sing via the structure and function of the basses! In my dreams I sound like a great singer – like ARU’s Paul Henson with Michael McDonald’s range! (Laughter) I also love the sound of Anita Baker’s voice! Anita, Tony Bennett, and Bobby McFerrin (talk about range and depth!) are those singers I find myself most typically attempting to emulate when soloing!

Bobby McFerrin’s “BangZoom” CD changed my life! I sat with that disc for an entire summer and learned every vocal phrase and bass line. Jimmy Haslip kills on that disc!

I still play my weathered, old Fender J bass on sessions! But, I’ve been blessed to play my fretted and fretless Vinciguerra Custom Shop “BAJ Signature” 6-string basses for the past several months! I also have a beautiful Status Graphite S2 fretted 6-string. All the 6’s are tuned from low F# to high G, omitting the high C string of the typical contrabass guitar format. I converted to that tuning a couple years ago, and I’m very happy with how that’s affected my approach to the bass guitars. I also truly love my Sturnal acoustic contrabass. So much so, that I’ve named her, “Hattie Belle”.

Learning basic music theory, studying piano, and spending time with some of the music I’ve studied, over the years, has helped me in every aspect of my life! Like most people, I am comprised of guilt, debilitating failures, and embarrassment! (Laughter) Music has helped me cope with how difficult life can be! Along the way, the study and practice of music has deeply shaped the way I see the world, politics, the arts, and people in general.

Music also provides me with a great deal of hope, and I would be a complete wreck without the loudly playing musical soundtrack of my life that accompanies me on a daily basis! Humorously, each of my closest friends has also confessed to having a “life soundtrack”! I’ll often stop and ask them, “what’s playing right now?” as we chat about random topics. It’s very telling to learn what someone else is thinking, musically!

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Bass Videos

Interview With By the Thousands Bassist Adam Sullivan

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Interview With By the Thousands Bassist Adam Sullivan

Bassist Adam Sullivan…

Hailing from Minnesota since 2012, By the Thousands has produced some serious Technical Metal/Deathcore music. Following their recent EP “The Decent”s release, I have the great opportunity to chat with bassist Adam Sullivan.

Join me as we hear about Adam’s musical Journey, his Influences, how he gets his sound, and the band’s plans for the future

Photo, Laura Baker

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IG &FB @bythethousands
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Bass CDs

Album Review: Mark Egan, Cross Currents

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Album Review: Mark Egan, Cross Currents

Mark Egan, Cross Currents…

It is exciting every time I get a new album from Mark Egan as he is such an amazingly versatile player and I never know what to expect (except for excellent artistry!) In his latest release, Mark has teamed up with Shawn Peyton on drums and Shane Theriot on guitar to bring us “Cross Currents”.

This collection of eleven tracks transports me to the Gulf Coast (New Orleans specifically). Mark’s fretless basses lay down a solid groove and lots of juicy solo work for this rootsy collection of funk, ambient, swamp-rock, second line, ballads, Cajun and even Indian Raga.

This trio is super-tight and the musicianship is flawless as each member has ample opportunity to shine. Even though each player is very talented in their own right, I feel that the collective energy is greater than just the sum of the players on this album. Each musician contributed to composing music for this project but the lion’s share are Mark’s original pieces.

I spent the summer of 1981 in New Orleans and this wonderful music takes me back to those fond memories. I participated in a wacky raft race on Lake Ponchatrain and this opening track elicits images of fun, sunshine, music, and great food.

This is another superb album that everyone will enjoy. Get your copy today! Cross Currents is available online at Amazon.com. Visit Mark online at markegan.com.

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Gear Reviews

Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

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Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp: A Tribute to 90’s Iconic Sounds

Disclaimer: This pedal was kindly provided by Joyo for the purpose of this review. However, this does not influence our opinion or the content of our review. We strive to provide honest, unbiased, and accurate assessments to ensure that our readers receive truthful and helpful information.

In the realm of bass preamp/DI pedals, capturing the essence of iconic tones from the 90s can often feel like an elusive pursuit. However, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp emerges as a great option for bass players seeking to replicate the signature sounds of that era, particularly the revered tech21 SansAmp. With its robust feature set and compact design, the Tidal Wave offers a faithful homage to classic rock tones and low-gain distortions, all while providing modern conveniences for today’s bassist. Let’s delve into why the Joyo Tidal Wave stands out as a versatile and budget-friendly tool for both stage and studio.

Specs:

Measuring at 130 * 110 * 50 mm and weighing 442g, the Joyo Tidal Wave strikes a balance between portability and durability, making it ideal for gigging musicians and studio enthusiasts alike. With a power consumption of just 100 mA and a working voltage of DC 9V, the Tidal Wave ensures reliable performance in a variety of settings.

Controls:

At the heart of the Tidal Wave’s versatility lies its comprehensive control set, allowing bass players to sculpt their tone with precision. Key features include:

– Level: Sets the overall output volume of the pedal.

– Blend: Blends the dry signal with the cab-emulated signal, offering seamless integration of the pedal into any setup.

– Presence: Controls the dynamics of the high upper-mids, crucial for shaping drive tones.

– Drive: Introduces low-gain distortions and classic rock sounds into the clean tone.

– Treble, Middle, and Bass: Provides a 3-band EQ with frequency selectors for bass (40Hz – 80Hz) and mids (500Hz – 1KHz), offering ample control over tonal shaping.

– Middle Shift and Bass Shift: Allows for further fine-tuning of midrange and bass frequencies.

– Ground Lift: Helps eliminate ground loop noise in certain setups.

– DI Attenuation Switch: Adjusts the level of the DI output signal.

– LED Light Switch Control: Allows users to customize the ambient lighting of the pedal.

Performance:

True to its inspiration, the Joyo Tidal Wave excels in delivering classic rock tones and low-gain distortions reminiscent of the tech21 SansAmp. Whether you’re seeking gritty overdriven sounds or pristine clean tones, the Tidal Wave offers unparalleled flexibility and sonic versatility. The inclusion of a headphone out, XLR DI out with cab simulation, and throughout for the original bass sound make the Tidal Wave a versatile tool for both stage and studio applications. From practicing silently with headphones to crafting quality recordings in an ampless setup, the Tidal Wave delivers on all fronts with clarity, definition, and unmistakable character.

Pros:

The Tidal Wave boasts an array of advantages that set it apart from its direct competitors:

– Headphone Out: Transforms the pedal into a convenient practice tool.

– Size and Weight: Compact and lightweight design for easy transportation and setup.

– Rugged Construction: Durable build quality ensures longevity and reliability.

– DI and CabSim: Offers professional-grade direct recording capabilities with authentic cab simulation.

– Familiar Tones: Faithfully replicates the classic rock sounds of the tech21 SansAmp.

Cons:

While the Tidal Wave excels in many aspects, it does have a few drawbacks:

– Plastic Knobs: Knobs may feel less premium compared to pedals with metal controls.

– Cab Simulation Only on XLR Output: Limited cab simulation functionality may require additional routing for certain setups.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of classic rock tones from the 90s. With its faithful homage to the tech21 SansAmp, comprehensive control set, and modern conveniences like headphone out and XLR DI with cab simulation, the Tidal Wave offers bassists a versatile  tool for sculpting their sound with precision and finesse. Whether you’re seeking to replicate iconic tones from the past or forge new sonic territories, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp is sure to inspire creativity and elevate your playing to new heights.

Available online at Amazon.com

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This Week’s Top 10 Basses on Instagram

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TOP 10 Basses of the week

Check out our top 10 favorite basses on Instagram this week…

Click to follow Bass Musician on Instagram @bassmusicianmag

FEATURED @cb_basses @alesvychodilbasses @odiengcustom @ramabass.ok @mauriziouberbasses @mgbassguitars @capursoguitars @thebassplace @adamovicbasses @ishguitars

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Bass CDs

New Project: NEMESIS CALL Announce “Kingdom of Shred” Album

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New Project: NEMESIS CALL Announce "Kingdom of Shred" Album

ALBERTO RIGONI’s New Project NEMESIS CALL Announce “Kingdom of Shred” Album, Feat. Super Talented Guests Such as Mike Terrana, Alexandra Zerner + Many Others

Worldwide known Italian bassist and composer ALBERTO RIGONI (soloist, BAD As, Kim Bingham, Vivaldi Metal Project, etc.) announces the new album “Kingdom of Shred” of his new project NEMESIS CALL. 

Alberto says: 
“Even if my latest album “Unexpected Lullabies”, dedicated to my newborn Vittoria Parini Rigoni, was released on June 4th 2024, I felt the need to compose new music (yes, I really can’t stop!). This time will be quite challenging because I’m willing to release an instrumental shred/prog/rock/metal/melodic album, that will feature many talented top-notch musicians such as drummer Mike Terrana, Alexandra Zerner, Alexandra Lioness, Aanika Pai (11 years old!), Keiji by Zero (19 years old!), SAKI and many others TBA/TBC). It won’t be easy to manage all such great musicians but I will make it! Are you ready to face a new prog experience? The album will be released in Digipack CD and in high-quality digital format approximately at the beginning of 2025 or maybe for Christmas!.”

As an independent artist, Alberto Rigoni has launched a fundraising campaign to support the project. Support at www.albertorigoni.net/nemesiscall. 20% of the income will be donated to Lega del Filo d’Oro (www.legadelfilodoro.it/it), an Italian association that helps deaf and blind children!

Visit online at www.albertorigoni.net | albertorigoni.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/albertorigonimusic | www.badas.rocks

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