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Has anyone started playing (gigging) again after a long lay off? Tell your story.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by emor, Aug 2, 2004.

  1. emor


    May 16, 2004
    A little history...

    I began playing bass in the 8th grade and joined my first band the next year. I played all through high school--usually both Friday and Saturday nights. I continued to play some through the first couple of years of college, and then took a year off to play full time. This was in Kansas City in the late 70's. I got kind of burnt out on it--disco was in its heyday, and live music was becoming rarer--and the "repetoire" left a lot to be desired. I gave it up and went back to school, but continued to play occasionally and even played an occasional job. I got married and moved to NYC and pretty much put it away for 15 years.

    We moved back to KC a couple of years ago, and I have been pleasantly suprised that the live music scene is kind of happening again. Kansas City has a rich jazz and blues tradition that folks are once again embracing. Blues, in particular seems to have an enthusiastic audience here. We have started to go experience live music once again, and I find myself drawn to the idea of playing once more.

    I am working as a cabinetmaker and am finding the type of work available very uninspiring. When I worked as a woodworker in NYC, the shop where I was employed did a lot of unusual and interesting work--lots of artist's fabrication, etc. Mostly what I'm doing now is busting out kitchens, and the like. Almost no furniture--very little solid woodwork--mostly veneered MDF and melamine. I am also starting to feel my age (46). (That stuff is heavy). But most importantly, I want to do something that is meaningful.

    I started playing (by myself) a couple of months ago--playing along with CD's, going through some of my old method books, etc., and find that I'm really enjoying it. I have yet to play with others, but whatever chops I once had would probably quickly return, and I would of course like to improve.

    I am realistic enough to realize that if I started doing this again, I would probably need to keep some kind of "day job" and that's O.K.--maybe just not one that required so much heavy lifting (literally). But I'm finding myself kind of intrigued and a little excited by the prospect. My wife is being very supportive, BTW.

    I feel like I'm at a bit of a crossroads. Am I out of my friggin' mind, or what? :eek:
  2. Folmeister

    Folmeister Knowledge is Good - Emile Faber Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Tomball, Texas
    I began playing bass at 14. At my prep. school, there were guitarists and drummers, but no bass players. So, I picked up the bass. I played steadily through high school and college, and then had the opportunity to try and make a career of it during the mid-to-late 1980s. I had soooooo much fun. met lots of great Bay Area talent, and picked up some nasty habits. Unfortunately, I got no farther than the Bay Area. That was fine. I was burned to a crisp, and in need of a college degree.

    I went back to school, finished my bachelor's degree, and then on to graduate school and a credential program. I pretty much put my bass playing on hold for a few years while I did the school thing. During that time, I began to suffer from decreased hand strength and agility, and severe pain in my elbows and shoulders. I was diagnosed with bad Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in both hands. I underwent surgery on both hands (prosthetic thingees were inserted in each wrist), and I was consigned to never playing bass again.

    Around 1997, I moved, and all of my old gear was found to be in rough shape. Just out of curiosity, I pulled out my old Rickenbacker out of the case. I was surprised! I had regained some hand strength and agility. I was convinced that there was hope for my playing!

    I basically started from the beginning, and worked slowly until I was able to play the length of two sets. Then I took it farther. I joined a band.

    By 2000-2001, I was playing fairly regularly. I have never got back to the skills that I once had, but I can play. That is enough. Today I am in two bands and replacing all that old gear with trendy brand names.

    In many ways, my story is just like a Tom Cruise movie: I am convinced that I don't have what it takes to make it, and, then, I triumph over adveristy and find the will to go on!
  3. emor


    May 16, 2004
    Congrats on your recovery; sounds brutal.

    By 2000-2001, I was playing fairly regularly. I have never got back to the skills that I once had, but I can play. That is enough. Today I am in two bands and replacing all that old gear with trendy brand names.

    So what kind of music are you playing and how do you handle scheduling between the two groups? Are you travelling much, or are you able to keep it local? How does it work out with your day job?

    Trying to sort it all out...
  4. ZonPlyr


    Apr 29, 2003
    Pasadena, CA
    Great thread. I started playing when I was 13, played in jr. High, High School and went on to do some work with some names. Went into the service for a bit and then got married. Man did I marry the wrong person. I had just started to get back into the scene when I was given an ultimatum. Quit playing or she was leaving. In hindsight I could have saved myself 4 more years of hell if I had chosen the Jazz bass over the crazy woman.

    Fast forward. I have a new wife, 2 kids and a Sadowsky on the way that the wife got me as a present for finishing grad school. I'm at the point where I can pick and choose when I want to play. I'm playing in a house band, a smokin' blues band, doing recording sessions, subbing for just about everyone in town and having more fun than I ever have. I owe it all to my current wife and friends. Thinking back on it maybe the break was a good thing for me. I was heading down a bad road at that time and now that I am older I approach the gigs with a little more maturity and professionalism.
  5. Folmeister

    Folmeister Knowledge is Good - Emile Faber Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Tomball, Texas

    Well, I gave up any hope of doing anything with all those Rush tunes that I spent so much time learning when I was much younger! I play acoustic rock in one band and blues/classic rock in another. I stay local (as local as I can), and that keeps the family happy. I teach, so in the current climate here in the Bay Area where having advanced degrees doesn't mean much, I have time to work with both projects.
  6. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    From about '78 on, I played rock drums through about '90. I then played bass for a year or so when our former BP'er up and quit. I was always playing and jamming with whomever was around on guitar, bass, and drums anyway. Many bands, lotsa gigs, and a couple of tours...so to speak.
    1991-1992 I met the right girl, got married, & bought a fixer-upper. I left the current band I was in. (still squeezed in my own practices though, whenever possible)

    Fast-forward to 2002, was 'chattin' at the Real Estate office with an associate, and he said he was going to jam with a Realtor from another office. Lusted to play guitar with them. "All full up at guitar, he said". I had an ibanez bass, and a FenderBassman 4x10 that I purchased years earlier, and I asked: "...need a Bass Player, right?" Went over, and realized the "other" guitar player had good originals, and so I bit my tongue on the covers. We have been gigging since. Paying gigs to boot. Since, I have a whole new rig, and a Beautiful USA Fender-P. Life's turns you know. we rehearse once a week. Gig 3-5 times a month. Kids are older, wife's somewhat understanding. I make it up to her. :D
    It's hard to closet the gear, man it's always there, you gotta pick it up.
  7. emor


    May 16, 2004

  8. xush


    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    I guess I'm kind of feeling what you're going thru, Emor.

    I gigged as a drummer in the mid '80's. No real gigging thru the '90's, just lots of home recording. Finally got some projects together that looked very promising for gigging as a bassist, but it was not to be. Never did get to hit the road with my bass.

    I never planned on working with a band again really. Content to do my own thing in my own studio. But circumstances arose recently that I felt might be my one chance to work with like-minded musicians on music I love. Of course it was as the drummer- which I hadn't really been keeping up with for the past 3 or 4 years. Some serious woodshedding was required, but I am loving the experience and it's really added a lot of enjoyment to my life the past year.

    That was my main problem with joining this band; I had to relearn all those Rush tunes I used to know on bass- on drums! Yikes. It's been a scary ride. But it's fun. Even if it doesn't amount to much monetarily or career-wise, it fits perfectly with my new 'enjoy the moment' philosophy. I wish I'd understood that earlier.
    Get out there and have fun, if you can fit it in to your life.
  9. duncbass


    Dec 28, 2003
    I got my Rickenbacker when I was 16 or so. Jammed with buddies in HS. Joined a rock band in college playing originals and 'frat rock' gigs. Band broke up, I finished college and go married. Finally realized at age 40 I needed to play some bass! Play some music. So I dusted off the Wal and the Rick, bought a new amp and cab and am now looking for a band.

  10. flash41

    flash41 Lost bassist returns.

    How's this for a layoff - not a note for 29 years!

    I played in a rock band in high school from about 1970 until 1973. When three of us went to different colleges, the band broke up. In the summer of 1974, we were all back home from school and we had a two-day reunion jam, tapes of which I recently found (and converted to CD). In college, I tried to play in a band, but the guys more interested in smoking dope than practicing, so I quit. I completely hung up the bass after the 1974 reunion. I literally did not touch a bass for 29 years.

    In 2003 one of our church bass players was leaving for college. My wife told some of the other band members that I used to play and I was conned into playing. I got my old equipment back from my parents basement and realized I didn't even know what notes to tune the new strings to. I had to look it up on the internet.

    The other bass player at our church moved. I now have a regular gig as the only bass player for Sunday mornings (and new equipment!), but I'm working on mentoring my replacement. I've taught my daughter (who is now 13) to play (our photos are in the gallery) and she is now the bass player for our church youth group and one of my sons is now the drummer for the youth group.

    Our Sunday morning group plays a range of music, with more and more of it recently being smoking jams with wailing lead guitar parts and rockin bass and drums. I'm having a blast :hyper: . Plus, it's great to share this with my kids. There are only two drawbacks. 1. I'm running out of money and space. Our house looks a music store, due to there being an upright piano, electric keyboard, three basses, an electric guitar, three amps, and a full drum set in our living room/family room area. and 2) My old body (I'll be 50 this year) can't take the punishment as easily as when I was 16. I have all sorts of aches and pains when I rock out and I'm beginning to have some tendinitis, CTS, etc. in my right hand.

    I didn't realize how much I missed playing for all those years. I may be medical school professor during the day to make a living, but in my heart I'm a bass player.
  11. peabody

    peabody Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2002
    La Crosse, WI
    All of the stories sound so familiar. I started playing bass at 14 (1974) because some of my friends were starting to play together and they needed a bassist. I played with these same guys (give or take one person) all through high school and college ('74-'81). We were kind of an a-typical classic rock band. We did Zep, REO, etc., and some originals, but then our guitar player would whip out his 5 string banjo and we'd do some bluegrass. Very funky. At some point we all went our separate ways. We stayed in touch and most of us ended up back in our hometown. Whenever we got the chance we'd love to sit around and have a beer and talk about the "Glory Days" (just like the Springsteen song). We realized at one point that the upcoming year was going to be our 20th anniversary of not playing. I failed to mention I had not taken my bass out of it's case (literally) in those 20 years. We were able to talk the one guy who lives out of town (he lives in Nashville and has his own booking agency) to come back for a reunion gig. We were able to put together about three sets together in 3 nights of practice. It took me several months prior to that to get back to acceptable form. It was an awesome night. After the first song, it was like we had never stopped playing together. The local media picked it up because we were pretty popular in our days (and it doesn't hurt that our drummer is an anchor for one of the local TV stations). Now we play together once or twice a year (and the drummer, guitar player and myself will do a jazz trio-thing every once in awhile). We have a standing invitation to play at one of the local festivals, and while there would be a ton of people there anyway, a lot of people are still there to see us. Anyway, the difference between the old days and now is now because I have a real job, I can afford to buy stuff and semi-satisfy my GAS. It's definitely good to be back.
  12. FriscoBassAce


    Dec 29, 2004
    Frisco, Texas
    Independent Manufacturers Representative

    I'm in the exact same spot. I played a lot at an earlier time in my life, had a wife who vehemently opposed my playing the bass. She was even opposed to me practicing at home (I wasn't spending time with her when I was playing my bass).

    I've been practicing for a few months, and looking to upgrade my gear and start playing with some local people. I can't wait to play my next first gig!
  13. flash41

    flash41 Lost bassist returns.

    Well here is an update to my story. I'm now in a rock band that plays both Christian and secular music. My 14 year old bass player daughter and my 16 year old drummer son have also started a Christian rock band.

    And there's more. My son (the drummer) was in a gifted class for two years (first and second grade) with a terrific teacher. She always looked familiar, but I couldn't figure out why. A few weeks ago, one of the guitarists from my bands in the 70's and I went to dinner. From our conversation, I figured out that the teacher looked familiar because she had been the keyboard player in our band for a little while when we were all 14! (We're 50 now). I got in touch with her and she still plays. In fact, her playing in our band indirectly led to her becoming a teacher! (That convoluted story is way too long to explain here). She still plays at her church. Her kids also got into music, with her son having been the lead guitarist with the Christian ska band "Hook, Line, and Sinker". We're trying to figure out a way to get everyone in the old bands together for a big jam! Hey, we're still younger than Cream! :bassist: