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Fake Bass Playing - The Grassroots

Discussion in 'Off Topic [DB]' started by ctcruiser, Sep 26, 2005.


  1. ctcruiser

    ctcruiser

    Jan 16, 2005
    West Haven, CT
    I know I should probably post this on the EB side of talkbass but...

    Has anyone recently seen the 60-70's rock/pop band the Grassroots? They can be seen at fairs and casinos.

    Currently the band is comprised of Rob Grill (the original singer) along with a guitar player, keyboardist, and a drummer. Rob Grill's voice is dead on, but he is standing there with a Fender bass guitar that he is not playing. He moves his fingers occasionally, but the bass lines are coming from somewhere else. You can see him on the 60's rock show they have on PBS every once in a while and with the close-ups you can tell he is faking the bass playing. The odd thing is when they are introduced, he plugs into a bass amp and plays a few notes like he is warming up, but when the music starts, the bass lines are coming from the PA system and not from his bass. Just a pet peeve of mine, since the bass lines from some of the Grassroots songs are fun sub-hook bass lines.

    I know they probably don't want to pay for another musician. Over the years, the band was always larger with a real-live bass player and even a horn section. Other than that you will see a great show.
     
  2. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    I did a pit trio for the Smothers Brothers, which of course features Dick Smothers on double bass. Sometimes we'd both be playing, sometimes it was only me playing. Kinda weird, but not unheard of, apparently.
     
  3. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose

    Jan 12, 2004
    Oakland
    I used to love Yo-Yo Man.
     
  4. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    Yeah, the crowds dig that one.
     
  5. Steve Bassman

    Steve Bassman Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    I also noticed that Rob Grill was faking his bass parts when the Grassroots were on PBS. Rob Grill was considered the band's bassist back in the sixties...I remember him in an old issue of Guitar Player magazine endorsing the Eko violin bass (yikes!). The bass on the Grassroots records was played by studio musicians, mostly Joe Osborn. The Grassroots were a studio creation and the actual "band" was formed to go on tour after they hit the charts. Some those records such as "Midnight Confessions" actually have pretty good bass lines. When I saw the Grassroots live in the late 1980's Rob Grill just sang while someone else played bass. I suspect he's mainly a vocalist who may actually play bass but can't play those lines while singing. They'd probably rather have him mime to sequenced bass parts than pay another guy to play them. At least Paul McCartney and Brain Wilson are still playing bass on tour. :bassist:

    Okay, back to the upright bass :bag:

    - Steve

    My web page
     
  6. What amuses me is seeing how double-bass playing is faked by actors and models in movies and ads. Usually, the endpin is in all the way even if the "musician" is 6'4", the right hand is plucking delicately somewhere in the vicinity of the neck block, the left hand is doing the baseball-bat death grip. Spinning the bass is usually featured. The actor/model is invariably mugging some kind of dopey ape-like face (okay, that much is accurate).

    Though its been a long time since I’ve seen it, I remember one pretty good job was done by the guy in “Mo’ Better Blues.”
     
  7. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose

    Jan 12, 2004
    Oakland
    What, like this?

    [​IMG]


    I thought the guy in "A Mighty Wind" did a pretty good job. OH, and the sound of the bass in that movie was really swell. Who played on those tracks?
     

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  8. I saw that movie again on Comedy Central yesterday. They did an admirable job of making everyone look like they are actually playing their instruments.

    I'm not sure who played bass on the tracks, but Harry Shearer is a bass player. He was also Derek Smalls in Spinal Tap. Shearer, Michael McKeon and Christopher Guest were involved in the recordings for that movie. They are all musicians.
     
  9. jrduer

    jrduer

    Jun 27, 2005
    Georgetown, TX
    I agree, when each group was playing by itself. But did you notice, at the end, with all the musicians onstage, there were 3 bass players, and no two of them were playing the same notes? It was like all three were playing different songs at the same time.

    Gotta love Hollywood...

    ~John
     
  10. mister_k

    mister_k

    Jul 27, 2004
    Los Angeles
    i saw the live show in los angeles. the young guy in the big "neuf-tet" is definitely a player. as is the guy who backed up eugene levy and catherine o'hara.

    i would go so far as to say i believe harry shearer was playing his parts too, based on how things would fluctuate when he sang and whatnot.

    but the show (which had all the same people as the movie) definitely featured some wringers.

    that movie is hilarious.

    k.
     
  11. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Word. That sappy Christmas special with the Bobby Hill character (from Hill St. Blues) as a trumpet player has some particularly egregious fake bass playing.

    I don't remember the MoBetter bass as being particularly believable, but it's been awhile. It was this guy.
     
  12. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    i got a set of monitors a while back and there was a picture of a bassplayer on the side... when i really looked at it the guy was fingering a major barre chord on the bass, his left shoulder up against his ear ... too funny.
     
  13. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose

    Jan 12, 2004
    Oakland
    IIRC, the two guys playing bass at the end of Kansas City did a pretty good job.
     
  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    yeah, but those were bassists pretending to be actors, not actors pretending to be bassists...

    Vis a vis MO BETTER, Tain was pretending to be an actor pretending to be a drummer. He did that pretty good.
     
  15. mister_k

    mister_k

    Jul 27, 2004
    Los Angeles

    RADIO RAHEEM!

    K.
     
  16. Steve Bassman

    Steve Bassman Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    I borrowed the soundtrack for the "A Mighty Wind" and Harry Shearer played upright bass on the the songs that were performed by the "Folksman" trio that he was a member of in the movie. So basically, what you see him playing on screen was really him.

    I love "Some Like It Hot" but always thought Jack Lemmon did a pretty bad job of faking the bass playing, both in and out of drag. On the other hand, a young Jackie Gleason did a credible job as Glenn Miller's bassist in "Orchestra Wives". He really did his homework to make his fake bass playing look convincing, even holding the German bow properly during an arco passage. When I first saw that movie I said "boy, Glenn Miller's bass player sure looked a lot like Jackie Gleason". It was only when he had some dialogue that I realised it was Jackie Gleason.

    - Steve

    My web page
     
  17. Heck yeah. Great movie.
     
  18. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Rob Grill is a good guy but he's not a real strong bassist. I almost landed a few gigs with them playing bass a few years ago, but he decided to just use pre-recorded parts instead and fake his playing. At this point, he's just trying to make as much money as he can so he can retire soon, just like all those oldies acts I work with that pay cheap.
     
  19. Harry Shearer has played electric for years ("This is Spinal Tap"). I read an interview where he said he bought a double bass and practiced hard so he could play it in "A Mighty Wind."
     
  20. sejarus

    sejarus

    May 8, 2002
    Milwaukee
    I read the same interview (I'd post a link if I could remember where I saw it). I do remember he paid the price for doing what everybody preaches against to the newbies here: He bought a cheapo bass to learn on, which led only to great pain and frustration until he got rid of it and bought a decent, playable bass.

    It'd be cool to see Principal Skinner and Lisa Simpson play a duet someday.