Respected and admired by many fellow musicians on the Broadway scene, Gage Boecker is most likely the bassist that has been on Broadway the longest. A true honor to interview!
What influenced you to choose bass as your main instrument?
Honestly ? A beer! I was at a jam session back around 92. I was a horn player riding on out to jam with the band and they needed a bass player for a couple country songs. I just happened to know some country songs, and enough music theory to get around on the bass so I got up and helped these people out cause they bribed me with a beer. The next day they called me to come and start playing bass with them. I told them I couldn’t help them because I wasn’t a bass player, but I became one.
Do you play any other instruments
Not anymore. I haven’t messed with them. I still have a few laying around the house. I kept one tenor sax and sold off everything else. I was a woodwind major in college, I just never play them anymore. I just fell into playing bass and never really went back to the other instruments. I messed around with steel guitar for a while, but I’ve been so busy on bass that I sold it to get more bass toys.
The lower Broadway scene in Nashville is very active. How long have you been performing gigs there?
17 years. Typically non-stop. I average about 10 gigs a week down there. I used to do more, but I just don’t want to work that much anymore. I figure 10 gigs, that’s a 40 hour week. That’s enough. After 17 years, I’m still waiting for my lapel pin and watch!! LOL
Are you performing with your own groups, subbing, or both?
I do both. I play with whoever calls if I am available. I’ve always worked with a bunch of different bands, some on a regular basis, and others if their regular guy can’t make it. I’m like their first call sub. same things with artists, whoever needs me I just show up and go where the money is 🙂
How much do you work on Broadway compared to other gigs, sessions, etc.?
It varies. If I get called for a session, I am perhaps going to take the day off of Broadway and work in the studio. Same with playing live, just show up when I can. It comes and goes. Sometimes more studio, than live, or out of town, casino dates, and good old Broadway
Any insight on basic etiquette, what to bring to the table?
Well, first of all, be prepared and have working gear. To me, that’s common sense. Make sure you have spare strings and cables in your gig bag. A lot of guys just overlook that, it’s amazing. Show up, do your job, be on time, actually, be early is always how I like to do it. Some guys are horrible at leaving a pile of garbage, broken guitar or bass string lying around, shot glasses, beer bottles, water cups, candy wrappers, just clean up after yourself. Some guys, I just don’t know why they think everyone else is their janitor. I’ve become a really good janitor in my 17 years down there.
How do you handle gigs when you are called to fill in on short notice?
A lot of the time, the same folks call me so I already know what I’ll be doing and I’ve got an iPad with some charts on it. If its someone I haven’t worked with before, I’ll just ask them for a setlist, look it over, and in my time, whatever time it may be, it may be on the way to the gig and I’ll scribble out some notes or just listen to it. Sometimes you just get in those situations where you don’t have any chance whatsoever to do any of that. You just get in there and try to be a pro and hope that someone is gonna give you cues, numbers, or something if you don’t know it, and hope they can do a minor with one hand! LOL
Who are some of your influences?
My biggest bass heroes are Bob Moore and Peter Cetera. There’s also a lot of guys I’ve enjoyed over the years, but I always come back to Bob and Peter. Those guys are my absolute favorites. Really, When I got suckered into playing bass, that’s the stuff that I was hearing at that time and I never get tired of hearing it. I go back and listen to it all the time. Of course, Bob Moore, everyone is vaguely familiar with what Bob has done and Cetera, I just put up a facebook post the other night of what I think of Cetera. Those are my two greatest, and all the others that everyone knows, kind of goes without saying.
Show up, be professional, do what is asked of you, and get along with everybody. Sometimes there may be someone that you don’t get along with, and I have been there myself, but just do what you can. As long as you are prepared and do your best, pay attention to what is going on around you, listen, use your ears before you use your fingers, you will be just fine.