Monday, April 22, 2013


Not many words are required for this one... a private performance by Michael Manring


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Peck this and Peck that, Heck Peck everything

The Vulfpeck force is strong with this one.....

On February 6th 2012 things changed.  Notreble posted this link featuring Joe Dart and Vulfpeck.

and I watched this video...

....after my brain stopped vibrating and my heart rate returned to normal, I watched it again.  After my head stopped bobbing and my knees stopped bouncing, I watched it again.  After my fingers stopped tapping and my torso stopped grooving, I watched it again.  Then I sat back. 

Dumbfounded, as a bassist yes.. by Joe Dart's groove...and by the virtuosic - but wouldn't have it any other way - groovy bass licks, but ... also by the entire video..the entire band.  What did I just see?  I read something about a film score ... it didn't add up.  Why would a band film a live recording of a film score?  If it was indeed for a film score I wanted to pre-order my ticket.

Then I watched another video...

Then I watched another video...

and more and more and more...all with joy.  I fell in love with Vulfpeck music and their videos.  I was watching like a wide-eyed kid, not analyzing like a professional musician.  So it took me a while to notice something.  

I picked up my bass and starting picking away at Beastly trying to learn it.  I was playing it on Youtube and playing along.  On one of the many shots of Joe doing his bass fills it hit me... and this may seem obvious to some..but..

What I was watching and what I was hearing was ...the same.  The recorded version in all its glory ...every note seemingly perfectly placed.. it  What we were watching... was Vulfpeck in the studio recording the very version laid down, etched in, burnt in, saved, stored, reproduced, archived forever on tape or digital or whatever.  

I immediately thought back to the first year I started playing bass.  I was trying to figure out Duff McKagan's opening bass riff in Sweet Child of Mine (which I recorded onto VHS from MuchMusic so I could play it back over and over).  But I looked to the video for answers but in the dark of the video I couldn't tell what he was playing.  More and more with other songs and videos I went to the videos for a glipse of what they were playing but as I matured in my playing early on discovered that music videos were just big promos with bands pretending to play along with the music that was already recorded (duuh of course...but to a kid there is a time before you realize this! ).   

So when I thought of that... then re-watched every Vulfpeck video all over again and realized each video is a real-time representation of what the listener is hearing respect for these guys as musicians shot up ten fold.  Their honor of pure is truly inspiring.  

I immediately wanted to go back and rerecord every bass track I have ever recorded with the feeling that everyone is watching... and will always be able to watch.....this take.  

Mind blowing.  I look forward to my next recording project. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

I do and promise to love you, my new bass amp, forever

I'm trying out a new bass cabinet.  It doesn't matter which one.  But I've got that burning question in my mind... is this the right cabinet.  Is this the right amp setup for me?  Is this ...the one?

It's almost like a marriage.  You try it out.. you court the amp...or rather it courts you.  It seems sexier and promises to do things that other amps won't do.  But will that last?  Is it really..the one?  Do you give it a ring and promise to unconditionally love it and will it unconditionally love you at every gig, rehearsal, practice, etc, etc?

What methods do you use to be sure you're ready to settle down with the amp that doesn't mind you eating crackers on stage with it?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Kurt's Organized Confusion

Kurt Cobain died this day 19 years ago.  I was standing in the doorway of my living room when my sister called me and said "Kurt Cobain is dead.  He killed himself".  It was pretty numbing news for a then 16 year old Nirvana fan.  I turned on the TV and watched the footage of police walking around the greenhouse where his body was found.  What a waste.  Why?  I could never understand.  I could never understand suicide.

Since that time I've had more than one person close to me admit to suicidal tendencies - but thankfully none commit to suicidal tendency.   But even still..with those people I just couldn't understand - why?  What solution does it present - besides the obvious unfathomable ..

but that's the thing...I didn't understand because .. to was unfathomable....  I was lucky....fortunate...blessed... with relatively decent and stable mental health.  Sure like anyone things got dark in my life at points but there was no chemical imbalance or other to push me to the unthinkable ..

As many of us know... one wonderful byproduct of finding music and getting lost in its powers as a teenager is displacing those bad thoughts and feelings ...getting rid of all the static and noise in our heads..our problems are gone... temporarily.  It's wonderful.  But I also wonder if it gives a false sense of freedom and resolution from mental health problems : a dichotomous look at the effect of music for sure.

I would venture to guess that Kurt understood and used this to its fullest potential.

Kurt Cobain playing the bass he used in his earliest demos
Just look at the name of Kurt's band Nirvana  ...which is defined by as:
a place or state characterized by freedom from or oblivion to pain, worry, and the external world.
Take a minute to remember Kurt Cobain as a human.  Take a minute to check out these links.

Now take a minute to think of anyone, possibly including yourself, that might benefit from help.  Check in on them.   Check in on yourself.

Stay healthy.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

If You're On Time, You're Late

Musician self awareness reality check time.....
  • You've got a gig at 8pm this Saturday.  Soundcheck is at 6.  What time do you show up?
  • You've got a rehearsal tomorrow at 7pm and it's 30 minutes away.  What time do you leave?
  • Your first lesson with a new teacher is today at 4pm.  What time do you arrive?
  • You're meeting for coffee at noon with an old friend who is now a booking agent to discuss their interest in your band.  What time do you get to the coffee shop?

Your history-defined answers to these questions may sum up your general level of respect for other people's time.  Or at least uncover to you how it is perceived by any of the above people that may be affected by your time: your bandmates, your teacher, the booking agent, etc.

If you're the type of person that is still on the couch watching the last 15 minutes of a Who's The Boss rerun when you have a soundcheck that's 20 minutes away ..well....

If you're the type of person that shows up to a lesson just as the lesson is about to begin, and you need to take off your jacket, unpack your bass, locate your music, tune your bass, use the bathroom, check your favorite social media site, respond to your BFF's text messages, etc, etc.. well...

If you've setup or been called to a meeting to sell your band and you're not ready to instantly give your pitch or first you need to wait in that long lineup to get your double mint chip mocha frappa num num...well... are disrespectfully wasting one or more person's time.  Did I mention disrespectfully?

now... if you're the type of person that plans it out and knows that for a soundcheck at 6 you need to give yourself at least 30 minutes from the time you walk on the stage to be able to play a note after setup and the venue is 30 minutes away, it's raining so people will be driving slower, give yourself an extra 15 mins, plus it's Friday night so downtown will be crazy...extra 10-15 for parking.... then you know you're going to need to leave at the very least 4:30 or 4:45pm to get there with plenty of time to setup and be ready.

You want to be a professional?  This is how professionals work.

Yes you may be early and have time to kill before everyone else shows up and is ready .... but... oh'll be early and have time to kill. That's good.  It means you're setup ..and ready to groove..or ready to learn...or ready to sell.

No.. you probably won't get a pat on the back because you're early and setup ready to go or an award for Most Punctual Musician of the Year but.... people will know you're reliable, professional, and they'll want to work with you.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Namm Groove Maschine and the Lowest Pair

Victor Wooten, Steve Bailey, and David "Fingers" Haynes at NAMM 2013.

3, of the many, things I love about this video:

  1. The amount of groove that David can get with the Native Instruments Maschine
  2. Fretless Bailey lovlieness 
  3. Victor Wooten, who we so often hear playing virtuosic solo bass parts, laying down the low end groove as a "simple" bass player.   

Monday, April 1, 2013


So I was just messing around with my recording software to satisfy a curiosity of mine ... the bass Solo in Paul Simon's You Can Call Me Al played by Bakithi Kumalo  ..... was it truly Palendromic? Did they reeeeeeally use the the 1st half of the bass solo and just reverse it for the 2nd half .

Well... to my surprise... no... it wasn't.  I loaded the tune into my software ... reversed it... waited for the solo and the 1st half now sounded nothing like the 2nd half and to my even greater surprise ... the 2nd half of the bass solo is a sample of Jaco's Chromatic Fantasy from the Word of Mouth album - sounds like from the 2:45 mark of the tune.

Crazy.  I'll post an audio sample later.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Serial Nos

What a great gig! You've played your tail off and you're on top of the world.  People are giving you compliments that would make a narcissistic ego maniacal crazy clown blush.... You hang at the club afterwards with close friends.  Eventually the lights come up and you know it's that time... It's Jackson Browne time.

And as you load out you're simultaneously avoiding the reality of the impending not load in... Out of your vehicle.. Several trips up stairs.. Bringing your precious gear safely home. 

But it's 4am and you're spent.  You chuck a blanket over your  gear in a weak attempt to disguise things and you crash inside your place.

You wake up what feels like days later after your  mini hibernation/rejuvenation and after much coffee or in search of coffee you make your way to your vehicle to find your worst nightmare .... Smashed glass and a painfully obvious lack of the aforementioned precious gear.

After you finish vomiting repeatedly in your mouth for several minutes or hours and you sip on a cold glass of water to prevent dehydration from the shameless ugly face crying you were doing on the street explaining to strangers in some foreign sob induced linguistic abomination of sentence fragments.. You think..... Ok.... How do I get my gear back?

Step #1 - what are the serial numbers of all the precious items of gear?

At this point you either definitively know the answer to the above question or you're thinking..... "Serial numbers?? Hmmm.. I've never considered keeping track of them"

If you're the former, you probably already know the exact steps you'd follow to get your babies back.  Relax and enjoy the show.

If you're the latter, you're probably thinking .. "right... How WOULD I prove to a pawn shop that the instrument they just bought from the devil is actually mine?!?!"  - you, my friend, have work to do.

Your knee pits are probably sweating a bit too.  Go ahead and check.  It's ok.

So what I used to do is have a piece of paper with my serial numbers written down and stored somewhere safe.  I know... Paper.. How cute is that?!

Today I use Google Drive where I have a folder containing detailed digital pics of all my gear and then a folder of pictures of the serial number of each piece of gear I own.

Google Drive for Android

It's a simple cost free solution that could save you great cost (and bodily fluids)  in the future if you're able to present definitive proof that the gear that was being pawned by the sweaty guy in the hoodie with the shakes that wanted to sell his "4 string guitar" is actually rightfully yours.

If my gear eve gets stolen you're going to see so many annoying posts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Flickr, Instagram, CNN, CBC, Infoseek, excitebike, Tomb Raider, movie previews, church bulletins, medical records, etc, etc and they'll all be full of pics detailing every inch of my instruments and their lovely serial numbers. Anyone buying a used instrument who does a simple Google search will see all 6945 of my posts and the swat team would be there in minutes.

Now picture Mariska Hargitay from Law and Order walking across the parking lot, over to you with your Mono Case on her back, inside your precious instrument, saying "those serial numbers were what allowed us to crack this case".


The Nitti Gritti On Technique And The Amp to Support It.

Many years ago Adam Nitti saved me from destroying my hands.  He can probably help you too.  The story and catalyst to the road to recovery goes something like this...

One night while playing a club with a loud band, a naive and un-gear-ducated bassist was playing with a 100 watt amp.....
The End

Enough said...right?

100 watts was not nearly enough to push the young bassists lowest sounds to the ears, hearts, and loins of the intoxicated dancers.  He didn't know this.  He pushed his hands to their limits, fingering the strings like life and groove depended on it...until..his fingers didn't work any more.  There was no pluck left in a right plucking hand.  RH Finger 1 and RH Finger 2 cried out in a bad Scottish accent "we....just..don't..have ..the power..."

Useless fingers .. songs remaining in the set ... crushed groove...crushed soul... finished.

I ...err... I mean.. the young naive bassist...squeaked out what he could with RH Finger 3 and RH Finger 4.  Pain.  Something popped.  Something stopped.  Then the next day... it was reevaluation time.  What was I doing wrong?  What could I change?

I didn't have an electric bass teacher (mistake #1) so I didn't have anyone immediate to turn to. I was also embarrassed that I was playing professionally and obviously was doing something horribly wrong. I went to the Internet and searched 'proper bass technique'.

I found Adam.  More specifically I found this link

And it was the road to recovery... from these lessons I discovered how to properly use my RH and my LH and one of the biggest revelations was ....the Moveable Anchor.  I always thought you HAD to keep your thumb on the pickup.  Well....this changed everything.

In the end I realized that the night I blew my hand out it was obviously two fold:

  1. My electric technique was seriously lacking and causing me problems. 
  2. I had an amp that wasn't cut out for the job so no matter my technique I probably would have blown my hand out anyway.   
I fixed my technique - and eventually got a real amp.  My hands and groove lived happily ever after. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

It's Beastly

Vulfpeck are my new favorite flavour of air that I breathe.  It's yummy air that makes me airy.  I want to share the airy air so you can be airy too.

 You're welcome.

But even more fun.. is this...a full bass transcription that Rudy Bless did ..

Bless indeed.  go learn it.

Go listen to everything by Vulfpeck.


iReal b loving this app

Band in a box... great for PC... back in the days when it first came out you had your little computer speakers ... you'd move your bass rig into the computer room/office and play through some charts.  Great tool of course.  But most of us back then didn't have nice speakers that allowed for a realistic blend of bass+amp+BIAB ( That's Band in a Box ).  Even more so you were limited to your computer room's desktop PC or Mac.

Fastforward all of the inbetweener stuff with laptops and speakers, etc... let's get right to your Smartphone.  and .  Like..... really?

I can have an app on my phone where you can easily download thousands of chord charts (doesn't break copyright because you can't patent a chord change) ...where I can easily change the key, change the tempo, change the style, change the volume of bass/piano/drums, adjust the reverb ( really? ), specify the number of repeats, etc, etc ??!??!

I can also write my own charts and work out melodic ideas or bass parts ( turn down the bass in the mix ) ...

Where this app really shines for me is in combination with something like the Vox AmPlug for Bass.
Plug it in your bass.... plug your smartphone in... dial up iReal B ... put on your headphones... and you can sit on your couch or walk up and down your street and practice your soloing or bass parts all you want...

A .... maze...zing

This changes everything

Victor's way is your way

Victor Wooten is a bassist.  That's an understatement.  Victor Wooten is so much more than a bassist.  He's a musician, an educator, a philosopher, a wordsmith, a curator of all things zen and lovely in this musical world.  There is no greater example than this wonderful video that was released as part of TED Talks

Check it out... and then check it out again... in fact.  Start every day as a musician by listening to and/or watching this video.



Jaco #1

What better way to start off a new basscentric blog then by sharing some beautiful John Francis Anthony Pastorius III..


What is your favorite Jaco tune?