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Blue Collar #7.5 -Grind Me A Bass Pound, Pappy!!!
By Mick Polich - 09/16/2007 - 01:50 PM EDT

Hold up – David Hasselhoff SANG ON STAGE on the “America’s Got Talent” show……

Is God a just God? Why, why, why, why, why, why, WHY??!!

Mothers, protect your children – please contact the CDC for information on a possible  Hasselhoff virus creeping worldwide…..

Somewhere, pigs squeal and poop from the agony of confused sound waves…

Now……. on with the column!

Slap that bottom and call me Spanky ! Props to mah bass playin’ peeps !

My good friend, esteemed musical colleague, and best “ Big Toe” (watch “Stripes”, chillen….), John “Barney” Behm Jr., shamed me into this column. I do have a topic list creeping now into the year 2015, but when inspiration (or Catholic guilt) strikes, you gotta hit it and quit, Brother Rapp! So, we’re talkin’ low-end this installment – deep tones, freqs, and sound to re-arrange internal organs – the Bass - O - Rama - Mystic Grooves and  Magic 40 Hertz Sound Carpets to re-connect yo’ to the Earth, bruthas and sistas!!!

Tell you true, kid, everybody surely knows when the bass drops outta the music. I don’t care if the drummer is Buddy Rich, Neil Peart, and John Bonham rolled into one heavenly percussion angel – no Low End, no groove love, lemme tell ya!  Playing bass is looked upon by some folks as a maligned malaprop of music – you’re a frustrated guitarist, so you took up bass because it has two less strings to worry about ! I’m spacey, and bass players are spacey, so it’s a fit, my mom got me this bass because it was cheaper than an electric guitar…… Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and all the ships at sea, WHERE DOES THIS ALL COME FROM????!!

Bass players usually get dissed – it’s not really very hip when you’re 12 years old to hold down the low end sonically in your Saturday afternoon garage band, but somebody’s gotta do it, right?  If you are in the bowling league of Dissatisfied Guitarist Turned Bassist because there is nowhere else to go, come ye forth and hear the Good News,  because there is sooooooo much musical enrichment on the Groove Highway to Bassville ! Unbelievable, yes, I know, but free yo’ mind and yo’ fingers will follow, to swipe a P-Funk phrase……

The bass grabbed me early on in life – James Jamerson, Motown, Stax/Volt, power trios in hard rock, jazz players, Ron Carter, Mingus, Jaco, all of ‘em. I will say right now, right off, it takes musical integrity, intellect, and guts to play bass and PLAY IT RIGHT! The bass is the rhythmic and musical link between the ‘comping’ and ‘solo’ instruments (piano, sax, guitar, etc.) and the rhythm (drums, percussion, yes, guitar, all right already, piano, etc. etc. ). Throw in the harmonic and melodic musical aspects and the bass is CRITICAL, Dawg!!!

This may not be even enough space, no, I KNOW it’s not enough space to get into all aspects of bass playing, gear, roles, music, influences, so I’m just gonna give you an overview at this point to the best of my ability. Getting into bass is easier now than when the Great Bird flew above the clouds, and my people were happy then, plenty of deer, water, one with the spirits and….oops, oh sorry, I thought I was watching “Little Big Man” again ( Dustin Hoffman, you ROCKED in that flick, palie!). But, you get it - long ago gear was a bit pricey and heavy to move for bassists. Now, you get good stuff for a song practically – 100, 150 watt bass amps for $400 or less, good, playable basses for $500 or less. Instruction books, CD’s, on-line and in-store lessons, yeah, you kids have it made, not like when I was younger, and we walked 40 miles to an old, creepy pianist named Mrs. Crumbley, who was the ONE teacher for miles around, and thought why the red blazes would ANYBODY want to play an ELECTRIC INSTRUMENT???? Downfall of society, soon, there will be fire and pestilence, hordes of locusts, you kids and your heathen rock music – yeah, NOW, you guys have it EASY!!! O.k., sorry again, but really, no kidding – plenty of hardware, software, gear, and teachers to make it happen for any person that digs the low freq (or ‘ freak’, as it would be in some circles, but we just ignore those idiots and thump away!!).

The first question is: what moves you to play bass? Looks cool ? Dudes and dudettes on MTV (when there ARE flippin’ music vids on that channel any more…), You Tube, I-Phone, DVD’s – they look bitchin’… why can’t I??? All valid, if that what it takes to get you in Bass Camp, Bootsy (ooh yeah, almost forgot – for me, ANYBODY who played with James Brown is a BIG influence….). Great gear? Yeah, gotta give props to the gear – can’t fault you there; stuff can look MASSIVE and poised to STERILIZE small animals with a shot of 800HZ …. no, no, just kidding, PETA, just a figure of speech…o.k., I’ll take it back…

Some final bass thoughts, and yeah, I’ll be back with more of this space on bass for sure in the future, but really consider how far the electric, and acoustic bass, has grown musically in the past, oh , 100 years or so ( classical, o.k., there’s some history, but the evolution through popular American song is evident ). What was considered, perhaps, a musical accessory in folk and provincial music, has grown into an instrument on which chords, melody, rhythm, and percussive noises can be produced to add to the grand cacophony of the Music Life.  Having started on guitar first, I was determined to not just be a ‘guitar player that plays some bass on the side’, but an actual, functioning, AWARE Bassist - when the Bass Hat is on, the Low End is there, kats and kittens! But, if you look at the WHOLE of music, not just your part ( o.k., offensive guards, learn the offensive tackles role as well…), you end up having a better understanding of everything MUSICALLY…….

So, all you bass candidates….grab some slab and grind me a pound of Low End for the masses !!!!

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