Lowdown: November 2013 - The Nerves

By Brian Fox ,


As you’ve no doubt read here and elsewhere, Bass Player LIVE!—the weekend of clinics, concerts, and exhibits that’s the bass hang of the year—is returning to Los Angeles, November 9-10. Geezer Butler, Lee Rocker, Tal Wilkenfeld, and a host of amazing talent will be there, and there’s no shortage of details that need to be worked out.

But that’s not what has me worried. Nor are the 20 hours of international flight I begin in 48 hours, or the fact that I don’t speak a lick of either German or Czech, the lingua francas in the particular patch of Europe to which I’m headed. All the people I’ll see on this trip to Warwick’s Bass Camp—Victor Wooten, John Patitucci, Stuart Hamm, Jonas Hellborg, Steve Bailey, Alphonso Johnson, Leland Sklar, John B. Williams, Andy Irvine, and Victor Brandt— I’ve met before. They’re delightful, and in no way terrifying. It’s what they’ll have me do that has me in fits: they’ll have me play bass.

I’ve been a bass player for more than 25 years, and I’ve taught private lessons for the past five. Put me onstage, and I’ll rock it. Roll tape, and I’ll get it. But put me under the microscope in a master class, and I just might lose it. From experience, I know full well that the vibe at the Bass Camp is easy-going, supportive, and familial; I attended last year, albeit in a detached, journalistic capacity. This year I’m a participant-observer (mostly the former), and it has me acutely aware that my limited abilities will soon be on display.

I’m laying it on a bit thick, but this is no feigned modesty. Who knows—maybe my severe self-flagellation is a bigger challenge to my development as a player than any technical shortcomings. I suppose it’s about time I found out. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got dishes to wash, bags to pack, and chops to sharpen. See you on the other side.