Getting Schooled - Prepping for a gig

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by BaileyMan, Jun 22, 2022.

  1. BaileyMan

    BaileyMan Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    San Francisco
    Not exactly humor and not yet a gig story. I suppose it's a gig-prep post.

    This drummer I recently started playing with asked me if I wanted to play a Saturday night gig at one of the local venues that's been around for decades with a Senegalese singer. It's one of my bucket list venues. I have almost no experience with Senegalese, West African, or any African music for that matter, but I couldn't turn down the opportunity.

    I'm a White guy learning these tunes, and man the Africans are schooling me! In a good way.

    They will tell me, "Brother, no. It's not like that." And then they'll come over, I'll hand them my bass and they'll show me what to play. And I'm off and running. The syncopations, the note attack and durations, how it all fits together. it's a lot to think about and I often wonder what the heck am I doing here?! I am so under qualified for this job. But they're happy with me, they like my playing.

    I let go of most of my ego and just stay open to their generous, patient teachings.

    I am honored to be receiving these lessons from their lineages and am grateful for their generosity and patience as we navigate communication differences linguistically, culturally, and musically.

    It has been good, but I definitely feel like I've been thrown in the deep end!

    We've had two rehearsals in 4 days and at least one more, hopefully two more before our gig the end of July. Everyone else in the band knows these songs, so the pressure is on and I gotta put some time in!
    droo46, QweziRider, Thorny1 and 107 others like this.
  2. RattleSnack


    Sep 22, 2011
    Stick to those guys, nothing makes you a better faster than playing with better musicians. One day you'll remember this with fondness and reflect on how much you improved. Good luck with the gig!
    droo46, Terry Farmer, Timmah and 34 others like this.
  3. Oddly


    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    Sounds like a great opportunity for sure. Check out a guy called Edd Bateman on YouTube...I think you'd find him a help.
    Good luck!
  4. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    What artists/standards are they having you play?
    mb94952 likes this.
  5. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    They asked you - that means they 4espect you. Listen, learn, and have fun.
  6. That sounds like a fantastic opportunity to learn while playing. They asked you and are willing to teach you something you don't know rather than write you off because you don't know? That's HUGE.

    Enjoy it for all it's worth. :thumbsup:
  7. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    Nice that you recognize you're in the presence of people who can teach you and humble enough to be taught. Soak it up, and enjoy the gig!
    PaulS, Babydave, Isaac_James and 5 others like this.
  8. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    OP, that sounds like a wonderful situation, both for your own personal growth as a musician, and for being in the moment musically. Cherish it!

    One of the most eye-opening epiphanies I had in my professional career was the realization that -- despite being repeatedly told by the faculty and administration at the music college where I earned my undergraduate degree that I was now equipped to be able to walk into any musical situation and cut it -- there are some musical situations that I have absolutely no business whatsoever putting myself into.

    Without a cultural reference point, some types of music simply don't align with one's command of the mechanics of music. You may play the correct pitches at more-or-less the correct time, but to completely embrace the feel and spirit of the music you need a connection to the culture that doesn't show up on the sheet music. Sounds like the guys OP is playing with, the musicians who are providing the "schooling" are the perfect ambassadors, a gateway to what might be otherwise inaccessible.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2022
  9. Koog

    Koog Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2010
    Central Iowa USA
    Great story, and opportunity.

    This type of thing happened to me in 1964 with a group of Soul / R&B / Blues / Motown players. I was 15 years old. They were all 10 years older, took me under their wing and created (for me) the most influential learning musical experience of my life. Every style I play now has a bit of flavor from that 1964 -1965 time with them. What a bunch of great cats those guys were.

    Sounds like you're having fun. Make the most of it!

  10. REV

    REV Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    It's funny how we tend to stay within our own culture and comfort zone. Situations like this are a great way to expand our musical consciousness. You are lucky to have this opportunity.
  11. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Let go of ALL your ego! This is an amazing opportunity. It’s incredibly generous of them to open this world up to you. I would love to have such an opportunity. Enjoy!!
    Bunk McNulty likes this.
  12. fretlessbass

    fretlessbass Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2010
    Tucson, AZ
    1) Nothing better than being “thrown in the deep end”, as long as you’re self-motivated—and it certainly seems as if you are!

    2) So much great bass playing in W. African music!

    3) I’m completely jealous: If you decide it’s not for you, let me know—I’ll start looking at airfares!
    instrumentalist and BaileyMan like this.
  13. BaileyMan

    BaileyMan Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    San Francisco
    Yes! A great opportunity to learn, to improve, to explore a different culture for sure!

    Yeah. I've come across his stuff and even purchased an Udemy course of his awhile back. I got discouraged at some point when I was struggling with one of the lessons. Definitely time to revisit it.

    Yeah. I did initially type that I was letting go of all my ego, but as I'm not an enlightened being there's got to be a little bit of it sticking around. ;-)
    cymbop, JEDI BASS, GroovyBaby and 3 others like this.
  14. Swampish


    Dec 31, 2015
    Quebec, Canada
    Very cool, though I'm sure stressful, situation! Like you said, put the time in, use their feedback and knock it out of the park!

    Leaving the comfort zone can, for sure, be a bit scary, but whatever the results, you almost always come out a better player!

    Good luck!
    BaileyMan likes this.
  15. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    Awesome. Expanding your horizons will always make you better and now you'll have some unique influences to shape your sound. I know I'll often bleed experiences form one genre to another - it's a big part of what makes our sound, our sound.
    LBS-bass and BaileyMan like this.
  16. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    Substitute 1968 for the dates, and that's my story, too. A school mate's dad was a pro horn player, had a killer band. He heard us playing one afternoon, and asked if he could invite his buddies over. At 14 years old we were playing with some of the funkiest brothers around ... three piece horn section and KILLER Hammond organ, courtesy of dad and his friends. I got schooled by a generous bassist who encouraged me to HEAR the groove, and to do MY thing with it. Great experience!
  17. dbsfgyd1


    Jun 11, 2012
    Mascoutah, IL
    BaileyMan likes this.
  18. SLO Surfer

    SLO Surfer

    Jun 3, 2009
    Los Osos, CA
    Love it! I had a similar experience being in 10-piece Afrobeat/West African band lead by a guy from Ghana. He sang each of our respective parts to us, and that’s how we learned the songs. His teachings on music and bass playing have stuck with my playing to this day, and I think I’m a better musician because of it!

    Keep up the great attitude and growth mindset!
  19. BrotherMister


    Nov 4, 2013
    PVG Membership
    This is what it’s all about! You can’t learn this part in school, you can’t get it out a book or a video lesson and you can’t download it. You can get a lot from that stuff but this part is experiential. You have to live it!

    These people live and breathe in this world. As you rightfully, and maturely, acknowledged this is a language, culture and tradition different from your own. In my experience people are always so happy to share that with you when they can see you are genuinely interested in it. You are doing the right thing by asking questions and letting them educate you. Immerse yourself in that world and learn as much about the culture and language as you can because that will inform your understanding of the music on deeper level. Think of it as moving to another country. You may not be a native, but you can become a local and you absolutely don’t want to still be a tourist.

    Most of us want to do a good job and when we are constantly being corrected its hard to see how we are doing one but trust the process. Stay hungry, do your homework be enthusiastic and enjoy the experience.

    Do what you are doing and you will not only a more developed musician but a far richer person at the end of it. You can’t buy that!
  20. devnulljp


    Oct 13, 2009
    BC, Canada
    Admin on the D*A*M Forum
    Man, how much would lessons like that cost you? And you're getting paid for it? Score.
    I played with a trombone player (I kid you not, a bloody trombone player!) who was a music teacher, and every rehearsal was like a highly condensed semester of jazz school. Always learned something useful.

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