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Bass On Broadway: Interview with Michael Pisculli by Ty Campbell

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Bass On Broadway -Interview with Michael PisculliIn this first interview, the first of several to come in the series, Bass On Broadway, Nashville, TN, we speak with Michael Pisculli about playing bass on Broadway. Michael has been in Nashville since 2011 and is one of many fine and talented bassists working the scene.

What influenced you to choose bass as your main instrument?

After 3 years of acoustic guitar lessons between ages 12-15 and playing lots of John Denver, I was bored and discouraged. I was, and still am, a huge Beatles and Kiss fan growing up. Now you’d think it was Paul McCartney that was my first main influence but it was actually Gene Simmons but totally by accident. I had thought the main riff in God Of Thunder was the bass. I thought it was so cool and heavy sounding I immediately asked my dad for a bass and lucky for me he got me one, a really cool Jazz Bass copy. My finger style acoustic lessons came in super handy cause I took to bass with ease and LOVED it and haven’t looked back since, except maybe liking Paul’s lines a little more than Gene’s.

Do you play any other instruments?

Besides electric bass (fretted and fretless) and upright bass I dabble in acoustic guitar, ukulele and lead and backing vocals, the latter not nearly as proficiently as bass.

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

I moved here on April 1st 2011 and landed my first gig on April 30th so nearly 3 years now.

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

Both. I co-run 2 bands in town. 1 is a classic rock band and the other is a bluegrass band. I’m a first call bassist for 2 other cover bands ranging from country to rock to soul/funk as well as being on call for a local new country artist. I also pick up sub work here and there to fill in the gaps. This formula keeps me busy to say the least.

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

Live gigs on lower Broadway makes up 95% or more of my work load and income. The occasional road gig (I only travel if the money is right), off Broadway gigs and recording sessions make up the rest. For example, I played 341 gigs in 2013 (mostly 4hr shifts, no breaks with lots of them being doubles and some triples!) and only 2 were recording sessions and 5 were travel dates. I would LOVE to get more recording sessions which is actually this year’s goal.

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

Wow, I can write a book just on this one question! Well first thing I’d have to say is ‘know how to play your instrument! Study and take lessons. The better you are at speaking the musical language the easier everything becomes. Also, know what kind of player you are. Example, you need electric bass for rock, pop, country, funk, soul, jam band, fusion? I’m your man! Reggae? Jazz? Afro Cuban? Well I have someone I can refer you too. Same with upright, rock, pop, bluegrass? I’m good to go… Jazz? Rockabilly? I don’t think so! It’s way better to say no to a gig then go in and tank it. You’ll never get called again if you say you can pull something off then not deliver. Always be honest!

Next would be gear. One good sounding bass and one good sounding amp will get you through nearly any situation downtown and lots of times an amp isn’t necessary if the venue is backlined. 4 & 5 string basses are the norm with a 6 string guy/gal thrown in here and there. It’s all good if you play it good!

Now all of this is for nothing if you’re not cool. Leave your ego at the door. We’re all here trying to make a living so be a team player professionally and personally. There are HUNDREDS of bassists in this town waiting to take your gig. If you’re not cool EVERYONE will know about it. A good bassist that’s a great person will work way more than a great bassist no one can stand to be around!
I think I’ll leave it at that for now. 🙂

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

First is to know the style of music the band plays and get some type of set list. If I feel confident enough with the  set or style I’ll take the gig. I always bring my favorite bass that I feel most comfortable playing. I’ll bring a chart or 2 if I really feel the need but try to keep that to a minimum. In most situations there will be a player on the gig that can throw numbers (the live version of the Nashville number system… Learn it if you don’t know it!). While on the gig I stay alert, eyes and ears wide open and keep my head clear. My first gig in Nashville was on 2 days notice, approximately 40+ songs of which I knew maybe 8! I kept my eyes on the guitarist who threw numbers at me for 4 hours and kept my ears open for cues and kept my bass lines simple and as correct as possible. So after 4 hours of sweating, lol, I got through the gig and was even offered the gig full time (once I actually learned the set..haha) and I’m still with that band till this day. Oh yeah… BE COOL! 🙂

Who are some of you influences?

My top 3 influences are Paul McCartney, Jaco Pastorius and Bruce Thomas from Elvis Costello and the Attractions. I can easily add John Paul Jones and James Jamerson as a close 4 & 5. I’m a classic rock junkie. Anything from the mid 60’s to the late 70’s is my thing and what I feel my playing most resembles. I like to think if Paul, Jaco and Bruce had a baby together it would be me! Lol

Final thoughts?

Nashville is an amazing city… Music City… not country music city but MUSIC City! Country may be prominent and for good reason but there’s tons of diversity here. The caliber of musician here is arguably the best in the world. No matter what bar you walk into here you’re bound to hear an amazing player. Nashville is known as musicians boot camp and rightfully so. Twice the work, half the money and happy to do it. Nashville has a lot to offer musicians not just lower Broadway. I strive to always do my best on my gigs and continuously learn, grow and improve on all aspects that it takes to make a living as a bassist in the most competitive little city in the world! Peace.

 

Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Ciara Moser

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Interview With Bassist Ciara Moser

Bassist Ciara Moser…

Ciara and I sat down for this interview a few months after the launch of her debut album, “Blind. So what?”

Blind since birth, she is a powerhouse of talent; she is not only a professional bassist, but also composes music, and is a producer and educator. I am just blown away by her talent and perseverance.

Join me as we hear about Ciara’s musical journey, the details of her album, how she gets her sound, and her plans for the future.

Visit online:

www.ciara-moser.com 
IG @ moserciara
FB @ ciara.moser

Photos by Manuela Haeussler

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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Travis Book

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Interview With Bassist Travis Book

Interview With Bassist Travis Book…

Bluegrass music has had a very solid following over many years and I am always happy to hear from one of the pioneers in that genre.

Travis Book plays bass for the Grammy award-winning band “The Infamous Stringdusters” and has recently released his first solo album “Love and Other Strange Emotions”. As if he wasn’t busy enough, Travis also hosts a podcast, Plays a Jerry Garcia music show with Guitarist Andy Falco, and is constantly gigging locally in his neck of the woods.

Photo, Seyl Park

Visit Online:

www.thetravisbook.com
www.thestringdusters.com
FB @ TheTravisBook
IG @ travisbook

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Bass Videos

Interview with Malcolm-Jamal Warner

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Interview with Malcolm-Jamal Warner

Malcolm-Jamal Warner…

I am pretty sure that everyone is aware of Malcom-Jamal Warner’s work as an actor. What may be less known is his work as a director, poet, musician, and most importantly for us, a bass player. With four albums of his own, Grammy nominations and wins, as well as a sizable amount of ongoing live gigs, Malcolm is dedicating a serious amount of his attention to his music.

Join me as we hear about Malcom’s musical journey, projects, his gear choices, and plans for the future.

Here is Malcom-Jamal Warner!

Photos: Dwain Govan @dwain_go / Conrad Montgomery Mckethan @eyeconimages

Visit Online:

malcolmjamalwarner.com
IG @malcolmjamalwar
Twitter @malcolmjamalwar 
Facebook: Malcolm-Jamal Warner

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Bass Videos

Interview With The Labex Funk Project

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Interview With The Labex Funk Project

Interview With The Labex Funk Project…

Time really flies when you are having fun! Just over a decade ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michel “Labex” Labaki for our July 2013 cover.

At that time, much of our conversation concerned his personal approach to bass playing and his techniques. Fast forward to now and I am pleased to discover Michel’s new endeavor, the Labex Funk Project.

Join me as we meet the band:
Kynion Lanier on vocals
Pablo Batista on percussion
Jake Brightman on Guitar
Daniel Gonzalez on Drums
And Michel “Labex”Labaki on bass

As a bonus, we have the band’s producer Phillippe Dib in on this video chat as well.

Here is the Labex Funk Project!

Visit online:

michellabaki.com
www.facebook.com/MichelLabexLabaki/
www.instagram.com/michellabaki
www.youtube.com/c/MichelLabaki
FB @LabexFunkProject
IG @ Labex Funk Project

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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Tony Newton

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Interview With Bassist Tony Newton

Bassist Tony Newton…

I am always learning new details about Bass history when I get the opportunity to talk with seasoned players like Tony Newton. Tony, a Detroit native, came up in the golden years of Motown and laid down the low end for countless performers and studio sessions; he has performed on over 25 gold and platinum hit recordings.

As time went by, and the whole Detroit scene dwindled, Tony relocated to LA where he worked a busy schedule, even going back to school to learn about music theory and composition.

Over the years he performed on many historic hit recordings and tours with Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson(music Director), the Temptations, Aretha Franklin, The Funk Brothers and more, as well as working with veteran rock guitarist, Gary Moore in the British group G-Force.

Presently, Tony is super busy and on the verge of releasing a movie titled “Mars Quest” among his numerous other projects.

Join me as we get to enjoy all the history and knowledge that Tony has to share along with the details about his new Signature bass from BITE Guitars named “The  Punchtown Bass”.

Here is Tony Newton…

Photos: Mary K. Brand, Mitch Snyder, Haneefa Karrim, Hans Adamsen

Visit Online:

tonynewtonmusic.com/
FB @ TonyNewtonMusic Artist
YTB @ antoniotonynewtonmusic

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