Lowdown: Tending the Fire

Putting together an issue of Bass Player is not unlike catering a meal for a big group of friends; you want to strike that balance between comfortable and exciting, sweet and savory, hot and cool.
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Putting together an issue of Bass Player is not unlike catering a meal for a big group of friends; you want to strike that balance between comfortable and exciting, sweet and savory, hot and cool. Some months, I function like the caterer, allowing my staff of cooks to do what they do best—write about all things bass. Other months, I act more like a meddlesome client, barging into the kitchen and insisting on seasoning the food to my taste. Like any issue, this month’s wouldn’t happen without delicious dishes whipped up the likes of Chris Jisi, Jonathan Herrera, and Freddy Villano—let alone sauce masters like Ed Friedland, John Goldsby, and E.E. Bradman. But I butted my head into this month’s schedule more than I normally do. Whether that’s a good thing or bad remains to be seen, but I had a blast doing it.

I’ve been lucky to meet and interview a host of “celebrity” bass players in my years at BP, and with few exceptions, those experiences have been thrilling, humbling, and occasionally terrifying. For my contributions this month, I turned my attention from rock stars to relatively unsung stylists in pop, rock, and metal. This is where I am happiest. Whether it was talking tone with Scott Reeder, whose early work with Kyuss helped define the stoner rock genre; revisiting the roots of rock with Creedence Clearwater Revival bassist Stu Cook, born on the Bay by way of the bayou; or learning from Attractions arpeggio acrobat Bruce Thomas the profound ways a well-crafted bass line can shape and support a song, this month’s work on the mag leaves me desperate for more time to do what I love most: play bass.

As with any 21st century publication, BP has an online and social media presence that needs constant attention. In a recent daily post, I commemorated what would have been the 251st birthday of Domenico Dragonetti—“Il Drago”—one of the earliest composers to dedicate himself to writing specifically for double bass. Not being terribly familiar with his work, I began to investigate. While I have always loved Bach, and have taken a crack at learning a few of his cello suites, I immediately fell in love with Dragonetti’s work; here were stirring, beautiful compositions written for my instrument. As Dragonetti was one of the first upright bass virtuosi, I have my work cut out for me. But for the coming weeks, my path is charted. I know full well that all the time and effort I will invest into learning even one of his compositions won’t advance my career, or put me on stages larger than my backyard patio, but I don’t care. As one who’s battled the occasional bass burnout, I’m just thrilled to have rekindled the fire. I hope you find something in this issue that does the same for you.

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Lowdown: January 2013

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Lowdown: November 2012

SHEESH. I TAKE THIS EDITORIAL GIG JUST LIKE ANY PLAYING GIG THAT COMES MY WAY— very seriously. Bass Player was there for me when I was a beginning bass player some 20+ years ago, and I owe it to the community at large to do my best to ensure the magazine is of the high quality that we all deserve.