Day #10 of 10: My Colorado Bass Career Recap Challenge. What a challenge it has been, to pick just a handful of things to share when I could go on and on and on. If you have read all of the posts from this thread then you are a good sport and maybe also a bit of a glutton for punishment. I have enjoyed sharing these posts with you! For the ‘big finale’ you may have thought that I’d go for the Garth Brooks show I did, or being BFFs with Amy Grant. Nope. While I have many years’ worth of interesting gigs I could write about, Day #10 is dedicated to the most important player in the band. No, it’s not the bass player…
“Flamacue, double-paradiddle, action groove, one-drop, shuffle, soca, hi-hat clutch, 12/8 ballad, snare strainer, sizzle cymbal, China Boy, double-kick, Cross-stick and press roll.” You gotta know how to talk to people, and by “people” I mean DRUMMERS.
I thought long and hard about which topic to save for Day #10 and how I would frame it. It’s a no-brainer for me to acknowledge all the drummers I have played with here in Colorado. The most important player in modern popular music is the drummer, I say. I have played with well over 100 drummers in my career, and I recognize how crucial that element has been for me. Of course in an ensemble it takes each player’s parts and contributions to create the whole sound and each ‘voice’ is important, but for me the drums are the key.
Drummers often say, “I have the best seat in the house.” If that’s the case then I have the best place to stand, right next to the drums and right in front of a bass amp. That feels good, it vibrates! As a bassist, to lock-in with the drummer and maintain a good “feel” is a joy. Each drummer is different, and molecular differences in their approach and technique results in their individual timekeeping, style and groove. It’s possible to immediately “click” with a drummer you’ve never met before while it’s also possible to never really have a great musical connection with a drummer despite numerous reps together. Such is music-making. When a bassist and drummer feel that symbiotic groove and instinct happening, it is a real pleasure for both of them. A REAL pleasure!
There are many incredible drummers here in Colorado and I was lucky to play with a lot of them. If you were one of them, then I salute you…hope my ‘time’ was okay. I thought about listing every drummer I could remember playing with. It’s a lot. I knew I would regret it if I forgot to name someone, plus we’d be here all day. Instead, I am going to acknowledge just a few that are noteworthy in my Colorado career. I would first like to pay tribute to these great drummers I played with who are no longer with us. My intent is not to be morbid, but rather to salute these fine players who I will always remember fondly: Albie Urban, Robbie Chamberlin, Al Knipe, Shawn Smith and Derryl Goes. Rest In Peace guys, thanks and we’ll meet again.
I would also like to acknowledge a few drummers with whom I’ve played the most gigs with here... I met Don Newby in 1989 and there is nobody I’ve played more gigs with than him, nor will another drummer ever surpass that number. Over 30 years of monthly gigging alongside Newbs, he is my brother and we have been through a lot together.
Other beloved friends and phenomenal drummers who make the top 5 list for Most Gigs together are: Darrin Johnson whom I’ve known for over 40 years, he is a world-class talent and makes me sound extra good. Rich Rychel who is one of my very good friends and an incredible player of all styles. Best reggae drummer I know. Brian Mikulich from GHS, to Wind Machine and a lot of other gigs since then. Lots of reps and history. Mike Marlier so many recording sessions and gigs with one of Denver’s best drummers ever. Many years at Mile Hi Church in the house band and such a variety of gigs through the years.
There are so many other great drummers here who have influenced my musicianship and helped me learn to play. I am grateful for every gig and mostly for the friendship connection we share. Plus, we made the band sound pretty damn good, right? THANK YOU DRUMMERS!
Thanks for reading my 10-day Challenge posts. It’s been an interesting little tour for me and hopefully for you too. Playing the bass as a career here in Denver has been neither glamorous nor particularly lucrative. Still, I stubbornly managed to do it anyway, and have had some strange and fun experiences along the way! I am grateful to each artist I have played alongside and for the experiences we had together! You have all been a part of my journey and I salute you.
Blake's Blog Bonus, My favorite drummer jokes...
Drummer asks band: "Would you like me to count this song off too fast or too slow?"
Q: What do you say to a drummer in a three-piece suit?
A: Will the defendant please rise.
Q: A bass player and a drummer are riding in the back of a new car. Who's driving?
A: The police officer.
This post is dedicated to my lifelong friend Clay Heath who was the drummer in my first garage band (which was epic) and was the Best Man at my first wedding. When I move to Kansas City in a couple weeks I will be just down the road from Clay. I see a resuming of our rhythm section activities on the horizon! Okay, count it off…