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Tips for Up-and-Coming Bassists with Carl Dawkins: Thoughts & Building Confidence

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Meet Carl Dawkins –

While deciding which topic to focus on next, I hit a bit of a fork in the road. There were several options I considered as far as where to take these columns. Many of them overlapped to a point, but all drew from different criteria I always find circumstantial to the individual. Faced with this dilemma, I decided to call Jake Kot (BMM editor) to discuss my role in the magazine and what I might offer as far as my articles are concerned. After a lengthy discussion, it was left up to me…that’s right, total control.

This however made things a bit more difficult as far as what topics to address and whether they would be beneficial for you, the reader. To cut a long story short, I’m not one for wasting time or using unnecessary minutes solely on deciding what to write about. So in great British form, I’m winging it, which ironically is the whole point of this article.

There will be situations in your career where you are caught off guard, or thrown into unusual situations where all of a sudden you’re called to do some playing, but the fact is you haven’t practiced in a while. These things happen to every musician, and these are the situations that define us as players.

So how do we get around these situations? We can always prepare for the unexpected, but that takes time away from preparing for the expected, not to mention there are so many different scenarios that can arise it would be almost impossible to prepare for all of them. With all of this in mind, you may now be thinking twice before stepping out of your door to take your dog for a walk contemplating what might show up seconds later.

With so many working musicians in the industry, and taking into account that I said every musician encounters situations such as these, you might be coming to the conclusion that there might be some “trick” to handling them. The truth is, it comes down to one thing…confidence. Some of you might know the illusionist Darren Brown. A lot of his work and his stunts are based around the confidence he has, and the tone in his voice that may make for example a bookie to pay out on a losing betting slip. The same principle applies to us as musicians. When faced with precarious situations, just try to be confident in your decisions, which might involve your attitude, your note choice, or section changes (in a song).

A motto I’ve always tried to follow is, “be loud–be confident–be wrong—in that order”. When you’re on stage, you’re all relying on each other to be confident. If you’re loud, and confident, and wrong the first time, the next time you’ll cut that scenario back because then you’ll be more confident about handling the correction.

Imagine this scenario: You haven’t played for a week due to the strains of life, and you go to watch a gig with a friend. Your friend pushes you to go up and sit in. Instantly you’re nervous, anxious, and thinking to yourself, why did I come up here? This will unequivocally show up in your body language, which instantly gives off bad vibes to the audience. When you’ve gained everyone’s attention, what you want to try to do is project feelings of relaxation and confidence. Don’t slouch, look around the venue, make eye contact, and clear your head. Just be a solid player, trust your instincts, and be confident.

I never suggest turning down gigs, but if you’re seriously under-qualified, it might be wise to tell them your busy and recommend someone you know that might be able to handle the gig—then get “right to work” so you don’t have to do a replay of that the next time the phone rings. Or you can just go for it, show them you’re not a bedroom warrior[1] and learn from the experience.

Confidence, being able and willing to wing it, as well as playing a simple solid line if asked to are the keys to handling any situation. Your look /image and your body language on and off stage are very important as well, as you are trying to create a good impression. They say the first 10 seconds after you’ve walked into a room are the most important, and leave the biggest impression.

We gain power through experience, and although you may have some hiccups, and may regret certain actions, that experience is still invaluable. The more people know about you in a positive light, the quicker word gets out, meaning your phone will start ringing and the emails will flood in!

Like David Gilmour once said “bass players are ten a penny, but one with a good wit is hard to find”. The point is, it’s not just your playing that counts, it’s everything about you, especially if you’re auditioning for a full time member slot, or auditioning for a touring band. Be yourself, be confident, and be professional.

[1] If you’re not familiar with this term, it’s basically a musician that spends a lot of time in his room practicing and learning all the unnecessary bitts you wouldn’t use in a song – so they post videos on the internet.

Bass CDs

Album: John Entwistle, Rarities Oxhumed – Volume Two

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Album- John Entwistle, Rarities Oxhumed - Volume Two

Album: John Entwistle, Rarities Oxhumed – Volume Two

Rarities Oxhumed – Volume Two is the second of the series of posthumous releases coming from John Entwistle.

Rarities Oxhumed – Volume Two is a compilation that was curated by drummer Steve Luongo, who served as John Entwistle’s producer, bandmate, business partner and good friend for many years. As Luongo states, “When I agreed to do two volumes of John Entwistle rarities, I knew volume two had to be even better than volume one. It is!” The collection of songs on Volume Two are from his years with the John Entwistle Band and include re-mastered versions of studio tracks including “Endless Vacation”, alternate mixes of tracks like “Sometimes”, and live tracks including The Who cuts “Real Me”, “Long Live Rock” and an epic version of “Young Man Blues”. The latest preview track to be released is the Who cut “Had Enough.”

Listen to “Had Enough” here: push.fm/ps/hadenough

Rarities Oxhumed – Volume One was quickly embraced by longtime fans as it featured gems like “Bogey Man” featuring Keith Moon, “Where You Going Now” (demo for the Who), and a raw live version of “Trick of the Light” recorded during the John Entwistle Band’s final tour in 2001. Deko Entertainment is thrilled to have been able to bring both volumes of this unearthed music of John Entwistle to the fans and forever solidify him as one of the greatest rock musicians ever.

For more information, visit online at dekoentertainment.com/john-entwistle

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Bass Videos

Artist Update With Mark Egan, Cross Currents

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Artist Update With Mark Egan, Cross Currents

I am sure many of you are very familiar with Mark Egan as we have been following him and his music for many years now. The last time we chatted was in 2020.

Mark teamed up with drummer Shawn Pelton and guitarist Shane Theriot to produce a new album, “Cross Currents” released on March 8th, 2024. I have been listening to this album in its entirety and it is simply superb (See my review).

Now, I am excited to hear about this project from Mark himself and share this conversation with our bass community in Bass Musician Magazine.

Photo courtesy of Mark Egan

Visit Online:

markegan.com
markegan.bandcamp.com
Apple Music
Amazon Music

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Bass Videos

Review: Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB

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Review: Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB

Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB…

Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB – Hearing protection has always been front and center on my mind because I love music so much, I cannot imagine my life if I were unable to hear.

You might remember back in 2021, we had a good look at the Minuendo Lossless Earplugs featuring adjustable protection. This system has a lot of very good features but there was always the question of how much sound attenuation to choose.

Now, the great folks at Minuendo have come up with a new version of their earplugs that has a set 17dB noise reduction. You still get a lot of the great features of the adjustables but you just don’t have to think about the specific sound level. In addition, this new version of earplugs comes at a very attractive price point.

For more information, visit online at Minuendo.com

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Bass Books

Review: The Bastard Instrument, A Cultural History of the Electric Bass by Brian F Wright 

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Review: The Bastard Instrument, A Cultural History of the Electric Bass by Brian F Wright 

I was intrigued when The Bastard Instrument showed up on my desk… let’s dig in!

When we dive into the history of our beloved instrument, the bass, we find roots that go back as far as the 15th century. This instrument was a member of the violin family and was for the longest time, an acoustic instrument. As the years passed and music changed, there was a need for the instrument to evolve and the electric bass was born.

Comparatively, the electric bass is a relatively new instrument with its earliest appearances dating back to the 1930s and it is exciting to be an electric bass player while this history unfolds around us. Fortunately for us and future generations to come, Professor Brian F. Wright has taken on the herculean task of documenting the trajectory of the electric bass with this excellent book.

The Bastard Instrument presents an extraordinary amount of fine details about the instrument itself, the development of the amplification to handle its output, the pioneers that dared play it, the rapidly evolving music that flourished because of its presence and so much more. 

When I first started reading this book, I noticed that it felt a tad academic, like a textbook (it might be one someday) or a doctoral thesis, but to present all this information accurately, this approach is more than appropriate. Another detail that might be a bit of a spoiler is that the book only gets us up to the late ’60s. I was left wanting more as we know that so much has happened in the bass world since that time frame; I hope there is another volume in the works to get us up to the present!

All in all, “The Bastard Instrument, A Cultural History of the Electric Bass” is a must-read for all of us who play electric bass and understand its essential place in music.

I found that there was a lot that I already knew but also quite a bit that I was unaware of. I believe that to know and understand where you are, you must know the history of exactly how you got here.

Highly recommended.

The Bastard Instrument is available at Amazon.com (beginning July 2024)

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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 @meridian_guitars @adamovicbasses @anacondabasses @mgbassguitars @xylembassguitar @officialspector @edwinpaanakker @alesvychodilbasses @boyarskycg @dmarkguitars

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