Given the peculiarities of the magazine production cycle, you’ll be reading this sometime in December or January—but I’m writing it fresh off BASS PLAYER LIVE!, which was the first weekend of November. Forgive the temporal gap, but the experience catalyzed a lot of self-reflection, and it’s in that mood that I write this month’s column.
For those who have never been to BASS PLAYER LIVE!, I’ll try to set the scene. First, it’s at S.I.R. in Hollywood, one of L.A.’s premier rehearsal and gear-rental facilities. It’s a building steeped in music history, laden with the presence of countless icons that have walked its labyrinth of halls and rehearsal rooms. Then there’s the gear. It’s everywhere. There are windowed display cases filled with the most drool-worthy stuff on earth, and that’s not even counting the warehouse of road-cased equipment of every possible sort. In short, the building is an organism in symbiosis with the music industry; walking in, one can’t help but feel they’re in a vortex of music and all its incumbent requirements. It’s invigorating and intimidating.
More saliently, though, BASS PLAYER LIVE! is about the people. There is no other gathering that so clearly demonstrates the special bond among bass players. Whether it’s the rapt enthusiasm attendees display during one of the many clinics, the giddy excitement at playing some of the coolest gear around, the chance encounters with friends, or the opportunity to forge new friendships, the event has a joyful spirit of connectivity. It’s a moment when each of us, long siloed in our corners of the bass world, gets to revel in our art and find inspiration in our community. This doesn’t apply just to the attendees, either. Those of us privileged to count top professionals and the like among our friends and colleagues also love the chance to catch up, share trade secrets, and generally lament and celebrate our field in equal parts.
This part of the experience is what left me most touched. Life has been a little rough for me lately, and I found great comfort in the reminder that not only are we bass players bonded in our shared passion, we also tend to extend our instrument’s supportive demands into the way we support each other. Finally, we all share the most important perk of all: the ability to express ourselves, heal, and share love through music.
In talking to my friends at the event, I felt the anxiety of our times in their own stories of the past year. We’re all affected differently, and we all have private struggles, but there’s no denying that a confluence of long-simmering trends in society is pushing us all into a state of insecurity regarding the future. We live in strange times indeed, and wherever one falls on the socioeconomic or political spectrum, we’re all enduring a transitional moment in the world that is fundamentally altering our perspective, or at least undermining our certainty about what comes next.
The point of this column is to hopefully serve as a reminder that our advantage in this confused storm is twofold. First, we are members of one of the most tolerant, welcoming, and noble communities I know. Our solidarity as brothers and sisters in bass is not just comforting, it’s there to be counted on in times of trouble. Reach out and lean into the community in any way you can; it rarely disappoints, and it’s a source of security when the world seems upside down. Second, don’t forget that music is the best medicine. It’s easy to take for granted, but sitting with our instrument and respecting its therapeutic power is not insignificant. Whether it’s coupled with the broader social benefits of playing in a band, or the more contemplative distraction of deep practice, we are so lucky to have an outlet in music. Use it.
BASS PLAYER Senior Contributing Editor Jonathan Herrera is the magazine’s former Editor-in-Chief. An accomplished player, Jonathan is now a full-time musician and producer. His latest endeavor is Bay Area recording studio Airship Laboratories. Catch up with him at jonherrera.comand at airshiplaboratories.com.