This page contains a few thoughts and links to some other Web pages relating to music, bands that I perform with, performers or recordings that I recommend, etc.
Rock City Band
Lately I've been playing some gigs on bass with the One Eye Jack Band.
I was for nearly 15 years until mid-2022 the bass player (first part time then full) for Rock City Band. We had many great players over the years, but the last lineup I was in included Johnny Descoteaux on lead vocals, Colleen Desmond lead guitar and vocals, Daryl Desmond on guitars, keys and vocals, Chris Harris drums, and me on bass. Rock City is still out there playing great music: (more photos, schedule). Check out both these bands!
A few short clips with me on bass:
- Already Gone: recorded live in March, 2009, with me sitting in on bass, Charlie Sweeney (drums), Colleen Desmond (guitar and vocals), Daryl Desmond (guitar and vocals), and Brenda White (lead vocals). That's Daryl doing the guitar solo at the end of the clip.
- Authority Song and Hurts So Bad, recorded live at the Payson Park Music Festival in Belmont, MA, summer of 2010. Todd McLellan plays drums on these, and Karen Slusher sings lead on Hurts so Bad.
As of summer 2018 my main bass is a gold Mike Lull P4. I've gradually moved to Bergantino amps and cabinets. I have two of the wonderful (first edition) REF 112 cabinets, and in 2022 got one of the amazing Forte HP amps. For smaller gigs and practice I use an Aguillar Tonehammer 500 typically with one of the 1x12s, or with an old SWR Goliath Junior II 2x10.
For several years before that I was using one of the last Eden WT-550s ever built; I also have the rack-style SansAmp VT that I used ahead of the Eden maybe 1/4 of the time; it's less smooth and warm than the Eden itself, but adds some grit and tube-style compression.
A few years ago I acquired a Fender American Vintage Reissue '62 Precision bass that was built 2014. This particular bass was the pride and joy of my dear friend, the late Chuck Callahan, who nearly 40 years ago was the rhythm player in my first band, Ramblin' Fever.
I still have and often use the older bass and rig that were my main setup for almost 10 years with Rock City:
For many years I played a year 2000 Fender "Hot Rod" Precision bass. As far as I know it resembles and is wired like a traditional Jazz bass, except for the P-Bass split pickup on the neck side. Fender claims the neck is from a Precision but it's very close in size and feel to the neck on my first bass, which was a 1972 Jazz. Fender made the Hot Rod P/J models for just a few years and discontinued them shortly after mine was manufactured. In early 2021 I replaced the pickups with the Aguilar P/J set.
For my first 8 years with Rock City I used an old SWR SM-400 amp. This particular SM-400 turns out to have been on tour for years with John Garnache, who played with Jefferson Starship, and who used this amp while backing Ry Cooder. In 2022 I replaced the EQ slide pots and it sounds like new, something like 40 years since John first got it.
Some Interesting Musicians
Everyone knows the Beatles, Beethoven, and Vladimir Horowitz. Here's a list of some less well known performers and composers I like (in no particular order).
- Ivan Moravec: a really wonderful classical pianist.
- Gram Parsons: Yes, he's become a cult figure, but his harmony singing with Emmylou Harris was marvelous, his songwriting was good, and he created a style that's been hugely influential. Check out GP/Grievous Angel; Live is very rough, but the Love Hurts cut won a Grammy; Commemerativo is not the official tribute CD, but it's truer to his spirit.
- James Jamerson: Arguably the greatest pop bass player ever, Jamerson was the heart of the Motown Funk Brothers Rhythmn section. He was a key influence on Paul McCartney and on most all the great rock/pop bass players. If you play bass, you should absolutely get and work through Dr. Licks' terrific Standing in the Shadows of Motown. It's got top players like Will Lee doing Jamerson's parts, isolated in one channel, or pan to the other channel and play along. Careful note-for-note transcriptions and interesting background on Jamerson is provided in the accompanying book.
- If Jamerson has slowly become famous and belatedly recognized for his incredible contributions, Tommy Cogbill was a marvelous bass player who seems hardly to be known at all. Great examples of his work include Dusty Springfield's Son of a Preacher Man, on which Cogbill's part really defines the song, and Aretha Franklin's Respect. Cogbill's playing reminds in some ways of the legendary Donald "Duck" Dunn, but if Dunn is a bit more driving in his style, Cogbill is beautifully fluid and melodically creative. Both were wonderful, wonderful players. (Bass Player article on Tommy Cogbill)
- Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson: was a wonderful blues & jazz sax player. I heard him live with Pinetop Perkins at a great show at the Bach, Dancing and Dynamite Society in Miramar in about 1979.
- Clarence White just about invented bluegrass lead guitar, a great country picker who played on the Byrd's Sweetheart Album and with the legendary Nashville West — a truly fine guitar player...and he invented the b-bender (here's the original)! He was hit and killed by a drunk driver while loading up up after a gig in 1973.
- James Burton: an absolutely spectacular country guitarist who can play many other styles too. From Ricky Nelson (Hello Mary Lou) to the lead position in Elvis' band for years, Jerry Lee Lewis, Merle Haggard (Lonesome Fugitive, Mama Tried), and eventually Elvis Costello, Burton has played with an astonishing collection of the best. After playing lead in the Elvis band, he got drafted by Gram Parsons for his pioneering country-rock albums GP and Greivous Angel (check out astonishing the Burton solo on Ooh Las Vegas). When Gram died, Emmylou Harris convinced Burton to anchor the Hot Band, which he did for a few years, and since then he's played with many others. That's him playing guitar on the Roy Orbison Black & White special that PBS shows at fundraising time. (biography, discography)
- More to come!