Author Topic: Phil's Playing Style...  (Read 1474 times)

cozmik_cowboy

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Re: Phil's Playing Style...
« Reply #45 on: December 28, 2017, 11:40:02 AM »
The one Phil Bomb I heard seemed to be intentional.  I think I have related this before, but what the heck - if an old fart can't repeat himself, what's the point of becoming an old fart?
Uptown Theater, Chicago, Dec 5, '79 .  the boys are cooking along on "The Other One".  At the point where, if Bob was singing, it would have been  "that's when it all began"  it was "beganWHAM!"  I mean, Phil hit this chord - no, that's wrong; I meant to say Phil did an 1/8-note rest then hit this ....CHORD!.... and I swear to you on Pigpen's grave, every single molecule in the entire freaking universe resonated!!!  The Uptown picked up the frequency so we felt it in the mezzanine floor - and they probably heard in Gary from the building reverberating to it.
It was truly transcendent.


Peter (who firmly believes that Lesh is more)
"Don't take life so serious; it ain't no ways permanent"

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edwardofhuncote

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Re: Phil's Playing Style...
« Reply #46 on: December 28, 2017, 11:58:10 AM »
The one Phil Bomb I heard seemed to be intentional... <snip> ...I mean, Phil hit this chord - no, that's wrong; I meant to say Phil did an 1/8-note rest then hit this ....CHORD!.... and I swear to you on Pigpen's grave, every single molecule in the entire freaking universe resonated!!!  The Uptown picked up the frequency so we felt it in the mezzanine floor - and they probably heard in Gary from the building reverberating to it.
It was truly transcendent.


Peter (who firmly believes that Lesh is more)

Well... now at least I know what to do when I want to get the HGB guys' attention from back there in my spot...  ;D  (and I'll explain to them later it was in tribute to Phil)

Do we know for sure if they are purely spontaneous events, that weren't getting help from the FOH guys? I find this whole discussion fascinating!  :)

cozmik_cowboy

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Re: Phil's Playing Style...
« Reply #47 on: December 28, 2017, 01:01:23 PM »
While Dan did dabble (way too much, IMO) in things beyond accurate reproduction of what they played, I don't see how he could have known when to do anything to enhance this; as I said, it was the only time I heard it, and I think Dan was at the board for every show I saw, so I'm going to say completely spontaneous & 100% the work of Mr. P. Chapman Lesh (I mean, do we really see Phil & Dan talking pre-show like "OK, Dan, I'm going to hit a chord at measure xx of the yy time through, so crank me for 2 seconds then."  "Got it, Phil - hey, are you coming on yet?  Bear really outdid himself this time!")

Peter.
"Don't take life so serious; it ain't no ways permanent"

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edwardofhuncote

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Re: Phil's Playing Style...
« Reply #48 on: December 28, 2017, 02:24:37 PM »
Yeah, I guess that'd be a tall order!  ;D

I was working the main board at a bluegrass festival one time while the hypoglycemic sound-guy was trying to get straightened out after some poor choices he'd made... anyway, he showed me how to 'stuff' the slider on Del McCoury's rhythm guitar mic just at the right moment for an effect. You could see Del grin from 100' away when he snapped a G-run.

Phil's a little, (make that a lot) less predictable.  ::)

Clearly, I have a lot more listening to do.  8)

« Last Edit: December 28, 2017, 02:26:14 PM by edwardofhuncote »

cozmik_cowboy

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Re: Phil's Playing Style...
« Reply #49 on: December 28, 2017, 02:38:01 PM »
Yeah - a guy I did sound for in 2 bands (plays pretty much anything that you don't bow or beat, but in those groups limited himself to vocals, guitar, sax, keys, flute, & mouth organ) has "Harlem Nocturne" as his signature tune.  He'd blow the Selmer and I'd ride the fader, reverb, & Space Echo, and together we did some nice stuff, if I do say so myself.  I can't imagine trying to doing that with Phil (who, I do believe, was the only one Bralove didn't do MIDI for; don't blame him a bit!)


Peter
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rv_bass

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Re: Phil's Playing Style...
« Reply #50 on: December 28, 2017, 04:45:22 PM »
We would have a good laugh when Phil would drop a bomb followed by the sound of PA speakers frying and fizzling out... ah the good old days :)


edwardofhuncote

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Re: Phil's Playing Style...
« Reply #51 on: April 09, 2018, 07:16:14 AM »
Rather than start a new thread, thought I'd bump this one, with a question I swear borne of pure, innocent, ignorance...


Has Phil ever played his bass fingerstyle, or is he strictly a pickstyle player, and always been? I can't tell.

In a desperate effort to keep my head into music instead of some other unpleasant distractions, I have immersed myself into volumes of Grateful Dead music from the various eras. Currently I'm hung up on Dick's Picks, Volume 3. The bass (whichever he's playing... (guess it could be either or both Big Brown and Mission Control in '77?) is so much easier to hear than some of the other stuff I have available, that I have been playing it in a loop.

I'm actually surprising myself... by golly, I can play those lines... though admittedly, it's much easier for me to do them with my fingers than a pick, but that started me wondering how you guys approach something like that, in practice.


A couple more questions...

Does it matter to you for authenticity's sake?

Is it just easier to replicate certain passages with a pick, simply because that's the way they were rendered?


~Ed of H  (trying to not overthink this, but very much interested...)



« Last Edit: April 09, 2018, 07:18:28 AM by edwardofhuncote »

StephenR

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Re: Phil's Playing Style...
« Reply #52 on: April 09, 2018, 08:52:54 AM »
In 1970/71 Phil used to sometimes play his Gibson SG bass fingerstyle though he also played fingerstyle before and after that. Seem to remember some tunes in 73 where he played the Godfather fingerstyle, it always gave him a deep round tone. He got a pretty amazing tone out of that SG bass despite its limitations as an instrument but of course the electronics had been heavily modified for him by Alembic.

There are a couple of pictures of Phil playing his SG bass fingerstyle on this TalkBass page.

https://www.talkbass.com/threads/phil-leshs-early-sg-bass.809742/

Not sure authenticity matters unless you are trying to be authentic which is a difficult thing to do when trying to emulate his playing. Over the course of his career Phil's sound has never stayed 100% consistent and his approach to the tunes changes gig to gig. So so you can either chase the sound of the bass, chase the spirit of the music or both but IMO the spirit and vibe is way more important. There are so many bass players playing Dead music now and I still don't think I have ever heard anyone who sounds and plays 100% like Phil. His approach is totally unique, the combo of musical theory, technique, control of the tone of his instrument and his ability to hear and react to music in a way that only his brain is capable of processing. There are tons of bass players that can play circles around Phil technically but they could never think the way he does.

The fun thing about playing Dead music is that you can add your own spin and if you are getting off and helping to shape and make the music happen the audience is going to pick up on that and dig it.

rv_bass

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Re: Phil's Playing Style...
« Reply #53 on: April 09, 2018, 09:42:45 AM »
This video has been posted on the club board before, but Phil plays finger style on the first tune, Bertha.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6Uu57h7H18


edwardofhuncote

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Re: Phil's Playing Style...
« Reply #54 on: April 09, 2018, 11:39:01 AM »
Thanks Steve and Rob.  8)



The fun thing about playing Dead music is that you can add your own spin and if you are getting off and helping to shape and make the music happen the audience is going to pick up on that and dig it.



I'm starting to 'get' that...  :)


mavnet

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Re: Phil's Playing Style...
« Reply #55 on: April 09, 2018, 08:35:41 PM »
I'm actually surprising myself... by golly, I can play those lines...
Which is very very cool! His lines are so unique, and not always very natural if you didn't grow up being him.


I saw Cream at their last NYC show and told an old friend, with some pride, "I can totally play like Jack Bruce." He replied, "Yeah, but he invented it." :)
I try to remember that when i start feeling too good about playing some of Phil's stuff. I'm amazed that I can do it, but...
Now I find it kind of freeing - it's like i have permission to try something different - he invented what he's playing, but I can be inspired and still do something different.

jazzyvee

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Re: Phil's Playing Style...
« Reply #56 on: April 10, 2018, 01:21:19 AM »
Yep that is the genius of these pioneering players, they developed a style that we follow on from and hopefully absorb and create something new.
Many times when I am battling on with learning some of Stanley's return to forever bass lines I think about the age that he was when he was creating those lines and playing like he did back then, still in his early 20's so no wonder he is still a legend. I have only known who Phil Lesh is from my participation on this site and since Bill tgo, in particular, encouraged me to listen to the Grateful Dead. So now I know a little bit about his playing and enjoy listening to his playing on you tube.
The sound of Alembic is medicine for the soul!

cozmik_cowboy

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Re: Phil's Playing Style...
« Reply #57 on: April 10, 2018, 04:18:45 AM »


I saw Cream at their last NYC show and told an old friend, with some pride, "I can totally play like Jack Bruce." He replied, "Yeah, but he invented it." :)


My last full-time truckdriving boss played lead in a hair-metal band.  One morning I mentioned how pumped I was from listening to B.B. on the way in.

"Ehhh - all he does is play standard blues licks" quoth the lad.

(After picking my jaw off the floor from disbelief): "Dude - who do you think made them standard??!?!?"


Countless player are good, and even great - but few are innovative.  Mr. Lesh & Mr. King are among the last group fo sho.

Peter 
"Don't take life so serious; it ain't no ways permanent"

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pauldo

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Re: Phil's Playing Style...
« Reply #58 on: April 10, 2018, 05:10:40 AM »
To piggy back on Mavnet and JazzyVee’s comments; you guys are absolutely correct... these fore fathers developed “their” style. 

This is why the late great Allen Woody is one of my heroes, you can hear where he took some Larry Graham, Paul McCartney, Jack Bruce, etc. etc. and made all of them into “his” style.  That is how I view my style, a gumbo of bass inspirations.
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