Author Topic: Random thoughts...  (Read 290 times)

glocke

  • club
  • Senior Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1043
Random thoughts...
« on: February 23, 2018, 12:19:23 AM »
Started, and deleted this thread a good half dozen times so far because I just haven't been able to nail down what exactly Im trying to say in a coherent fashion, still haven't lol...so you guys get to put up with some random incoherent musings of mine.


I'm more or less an "on again/off again" bass player.  I've been at it since I was a kid but have had to stop at various points in my life for things such as school/work/family.  Than there is the usual frustration with dealing with other musicians that at times can really, really sour what is supposed to be a fun hobby (or profession for you guys who make decent money at this).  My "off again" periods were never 100% without playing, but it would just be me picking up the bass once in awhile and running through tunes or exercises, with the odd fill in gig now and than.


Currently I'm in an "on again" phase after being recruited by one of the better and more popular dead bands in the area to fill their bass role after some drama with their former bassist.


It's a great opportunity for me, and has inspired me on several levels, first and foremost of which is to step up my game and go back and work on this skills I am weak on such as reading, theory, jazz stuff.  It's a G.D. cover band that also plays non G.D. tunes  and none of that stuff is required for that material, but I've always thought that working on the harder stuff like that just makes you play the easier stuff much better.


Even more than that it's caused me to take a fairly deep look at my gear, sound and playing style as well.  For many years I was one who was into "chasing unicorns", and by that I mean trying to copy Phil's tone and style, especially from the early 70's.  This really isn't anything at all unusual in the G.D. cover band genre or other tribute bands for that matter either.  Countless hours spent trying to copy not just his signature licks for tunes, but also his improvised licks, $$$ spent on basses, strings, amps, etc...etc..and I wasn't alone in this either as lots of my musician friends were doing the same thing in trying to copy Jerry and Bob...buying clone guitars, seeking out and restoring vintage Ibanez artists series guitars, etc..


I've pretty much jumped off that bandwagon after realizing that music first and foremost is about self expression.  It's my own sound I want to hear when playing those tunes, and I want those cool licks to be my own cool licks, I don't want to put time and effort into trying in vain to copy someone elses sound and licks like myself and countless others have been doing.  I've even taken it a step further, in putting down my Alembic and going back to playing jazz basses.  Nothing wrong with Alembic at all, and I also still have a sense of wonderment and amazement when I hear Phils tone from those early 70s years, and I love my SCSD still and have hopes of one day again acquiring a nice SII instrument after selling mine some years back, but I just want to remove myself from the whole "clone thing" as much as possible.






rv_bass

  • club
  • Senior Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1128
Re: Random thoughts...
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2018, 04:08:57 AM »
Glocke, I think you are on the right track.  The GD played lots of covers over the years, but no one in that band tried to play it like the original, they created their own interpretation of the tunes with their own sound (e.g., ‘77 versions of Dancin’ in the Streets).  Likewise, jazz tunes have been played by many over time with various interpretations (e.g., Footprints on Wayne Shorter’s album vs. Footprints by Miles’ 1970s band at the Filmore).  Even individuals interpreting the same tunes differently over time, both in arrangement and sound (e.g., Herbie Hancock’s version of Chameleon with The Head Hunters vs. other versions he played at various times).  The basic structure and melody is there in all instances, but the artistic freedom of expression is paramount.  I guess the challenge with playing in a cover/tribute band is satisfying the audience’s expectations.  Do they want to hear note-for-note reproductions, or your band’s interpretation in context?
« Last Edit: February 23, 2018, 09:51:37 AM by rv_bass »

cozmik_cowboy

  • club
  • Senior Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2628
Re: Random thoughts...
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2018, 04:35:24 AM »
I agree with Rob, Greg - you're on the right track.  I used to do sound for a cover band whose following dried up when they decided to be a note-for-note "copy band" instead; we've all heard the record - make it fresh!

But I think you need to rethink your opinion that Dead material doesn't need theory or "jazz stuff"; I'd argue that it needs that more than most music, especially in the bass chair (don't forget, Phil came at rock from a classical/jazz/modern background) .

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

Pogo

Zut8083

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 139
Re: Random thoughts...
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2018, 11:23:28 AM »
Dear glocke,

It's like you and Willie Keeler said, "Keep your eye on the ball, and hit 'em where they ain't!"

Best of luck to you on your expedition and on blazing new trails.

-Zut

5a quilt top

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 92
Re: Random thoughts...
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2018, 12:09:26 PM »
I completely understand where you're at. I spent the majority of my time (and money) in my late teens and early 20's chasing Allan Holdsworth's lead guitar tone on Jean Luc Ponty's "Enigmatic Ocean" album - specifically "Nostalgic Lady". At the time, I considered that to be the epitome of tone for lead guitar and I wanted it for my own.


Chasing it was both a curse and a blessing. A curse because I was not receptive to playing or doing anything else that might detract from achieving my goal, including exploring my own natural approach to the guitar and potentially discovering a different tone that might be uniquely mine. And a blessing because my technique improved tremendously - because it had to.


Eventually, I became frustrated with doing that (and with some other aspects of playing music) so I quit playing altogether for about 10 years and pursued other interests.


When I picked up the guitar again about 20 years ago, I was more mature and in a different place mentally, emotionally and musically so I had a fresh perspective. Fortunately, most of the technique I'd worked so hard to master came back rather quickly and my desire to copy someone else's tone had vanished, so I was ready to explore what I might have to offer.


Since then, I've approached playing music with an open mind and I seek only to contribute what I can to as wide a variety of styles and projects as possible. This has opened many doors that I'd previously left closed and has ultimately resulted in me picking up a bass and discovering that it is as much (or more) fun than a guitar.


Bottom line - I enjoy playing music more than ever right now because I'm content to be me and I'm excited to find out what I'll do next If I'd kept pursuing Holdsworth's "holy grail" guitar tone, I would now be successfully trapped in a very narrow niche as a second-rate clone of a genius.

keith_h

  • club
  • Senior Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2776
Re: Random thoughts...
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2018, 03:18:27 PM »
I understand the on/off thing. As far as playing goes I've always taken the tact that I was free to be me as long as I stuck to the hooks of a tune and kept the same groove. It is the hooks that most people identify with so as long as those are played they associate the song with what they know. It also leaves a lot of room to improvise with the rest of the song. While I am not very knowledgeable about the Dead from what I've listened to of their live work they seemed to adhere to this same philosophy (it's never quite the same twice).

Having said this a question comes to mind. What are the band's expectations? Have you sat down and discussed what they expect and what you would like to do? If they want note perfect reproductions and you want more freedom I think it is better to bow out now than go through a breakup later. Doing otherwise when both parties have very different perspectives and expectation isn't fair to either one.   

David Houck

  • club
  • Senior Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12926
Re: Random thoughts...
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2018, 05:57:25 PM »
Personally, I don't think you need to quit playing your Alembic just to distance yourself from the "clone thing".  Nobody that hears Stanley Clarke is thinking that he's trying to sound like Phil Lesh.  And I have a bass that's very similar to Phil's current bass, and nobody that's heard my recordings is thinking I'm going after the Phil sound.

Further, because Alembics have such a wide tonal pallet compared to other basses, it should be easier to find your own voice with an Alembic.  There's just so much of a greater range of possibilities to choose from.

And as for the look, I'm guessing most people looking at a small body Alembic don't make the connection with what Phil's playing or has played (unless they're really focused in on the logo, or they're members of the Alembic club).

edwin

  • club
  • Senior Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2756
Re: Random thoughts...
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2018, 10:57:26 PM »
It might be worth looking into some lessons with good teachers in your area. It's always great to get a fresh perspective and if you are looking to get your theory and jazz chops in order, it's almost impossible to do that alone.

glocke

  • club
  • Senior Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1043
Re: Random thoughts...
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2018, 05:35:36 AM »
It might be worth looking into some lessons with good teachers in your area. It's always great to get a fresh perspective and if you are looking to get your theory and jazz chops in order, it's almost impossible to do that alone.

Yup..got one scheduled today.

@davehouck...Yeah I know I don't to quit playing my Alembic..but I think part of this process is not only wanting to distance myself from looking like a "clone wannabe"  (nothing wrong with that stuff either, this is just more about me trying to find my "own voice" after all these years spent trying to pursue someone elses playing style) I just need a change.  I used to own a few jazz basses, but sold them, in large part because I needed the cash at the time, but they were also "vintage" instruments that had issues I just wasn't interested in addressing.  Also, after checking out the current pricing on SCSD, I also decided having a less expensive bass at my disposal was something that be in my best interest.

@peter..you are correct on the dead/jazz stuff..I probably didn't phrase that statement very well.  What I meant by that is for the most part, playing dead tunes doesn't require the "deep level" of theory that playing real, straight up jazz requires. 

« Last Edit: February 25, 2018, 05:46:55 AM by glocke »

edwin

  • club
  • Senior Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2756
Re: Random thoughts...
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2018, 01:29:05 PM »
It might be worth looking into some lessons with good teachers in your area. It's always great to get a fresh perspective and if you are looking to get your theory and jazz chops in order, it's almost impossible to do that alone.

Yup..got one scheduled today.



Let us know how it goes!