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How's being in a blues trio/quartet?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by pmaraziti, Apr 14, 2009.

  1. pmaraziti


    Feb 12, 2006
    Madrid, Spain
    Hi All,

    This is for those of you who play regularly or played regularly in a blues band.

    I've spent the last two years with a pop-rock band which I help setting up from scratch. It was very satisfying to see it growing, but the band now will break up because we have different tastes as far music is concerned and we want to explore different fields.

    I'm fascinated by funk and much modern jazz which are two genres I'm studying as I write. I'd love to be in a band that played that but I feel still a rookie in these genres... I'll have a hard time performing well.

    A guitarist friend of mine suggested to start a blues cover band (he loves SRV, Bonamassa, Jimi Hendrix etc) as side project while I still insist on the idea of a funk/jazz project. It doesn't seem a bad idea, we didn't play any blues in my previous band and although bass doesn't look much fun as in funk, blues might be a lot of fun when played live. I always think that the more genre you learn to play, the better musician you'll eventually become.

    So the bottom line question is for those of you who are playing / have played in pure blues bands... can you share your experience about palying bass? what made it fun for you? what you thought was boring ? Was it difficult to get gigs ? What was your band setup? what were/are the main musical learning for you in your blues band?

    I'm not a pro, I just play for the fun of it. Having too many project might be an issue for me in terms of time. But funny enough, I was moved to playing bass by a blues band of friends of mine....

    Thanks a ton in advance, Paolo
  2. Step


    Feb 20, 2008
    I started in a blues band a few months ago, me being 19 and the other musicians ranging from 35 to 60 years old

    our band has five members, drum, bass, guitar, harp and singer

    at first I tried to make everything funky and spice everything up, since I love funk. but now, finally after a few practices I'm getting that I should just walk, and keep it simple and tight.

    stick to the basics

    blues bass is simple and really not flashy, but to me, it's extremely gratifying knowing that because of my solid steady playing the guitarist can go all out

    getting gigs as a blues band isn't really a problem, it's easier compared to other genres I think, also depends on where you're from of course.
  3. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    If you're putting the group together, why not build a bluesy/funky/R&B set list? One of my current bands mixes (among others) T-Bone Walker, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Ben Harper, and Stevie Ray Vaughn with Otis Redding, James Brown, Bill Withers, the Neville Brothers, the Isley Brothers, and the Meters.

    There's no rule that you have to be a band for blues purists. It's all good gumbo when you dish it out it hot.
  4. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    Northern California
    Two very solid posts already.

    I'll just say this - in the US at least, it is very easy to get gigs as a blues band. But I'll also say that I wouldn't do it unless you really dig the music. The bass has a pretty constrained role - which is a good experience - but it also means it can be boring if you aren't into the music.

    I think of reggae/dub in a similar way. Most of the basslines are interesting, but you really have to play them over and over with very few fills, but I love the music so I enjoy it. Blues is the same way. I wouldn't join a blues band at this point, but I've done it in the past and had a great time. It won't push you creatively as a bass player, but it will ensure that you can create a big fat pocket and groove.
  5. Step


    Feb 20, 2008
    we have some funky songs, but I was going all out where I wasn't supposed to, we were doing stuff like ain't no sunshine and I was playing octaves and filles while all I should be playing is the main riff

    that's more or less what I meant :p
  6. EBodious


    Aug 2, 2006
    i definitely think that you gotta enjoy playing the blues if you are gonna join a blues band and get something out of it. but i think that is true in all genres. i also think that the only limits in blues bass are self-imposed. as in a, there are no small parts, just small players -sort of way. but i think that is also true in all genres.

    i started playing in a blues band two years ago. getting down with the fundamentals has been great for me. maybe its more a reflection of my playing ability :)rolleyes:), but i feel overwhelmed with how much i still have to learn about blues and bass.

    if you are a "start at the bottom and work your way up" type of person, then i think blues is important to lead to r&b and soul, to lead to funk.

    there was a thread not so long ago on about blues bass philosophy and resources:

  7. JKT


    Apr 30, 2007
    Buffalo NY
    Endorsing Artist: Barker Basses
    That's what we did.
  8. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    Playing the blues is tedious if most of the songs are in the same rhythmic style (Chicago, Memphis, whatever) and/or the same key or chord progression. Play as many blues styles as you can and play them in different keys and progressions. You'll have a blast and no one will be bored.
  9. Kenny Allyn

    Kenny Allyn

    Mar 25, 2006
    My band Blackkat Bone is "blues based" we can do straight ahead blues but it usually ends up with us kickin it pretty hard. No rules I spare off with the guitar player all the time and use an effects board too and a pick as needed. We also do a fair amount of funky old school R&B that is fun to play.

    Guitar, Bass, and Drums with a female singer is the lineup here are some action shots.


    :eyebrow: ... I have to play much more laid back when I sit in with others!
  10. I started playing in a blues/R&B band about a year or two ago and I love it. It bounces between three and four pieces. It's guitar, bass, drums and sometimes keyboard. I like it better sometimes when it is just three piece because the bass can open up and play a bit more. Even take a few solos. And I agree that mixing it up helps too. We play the old blues standards like Muddy Waters and Albert King and stuff but also some James Brown, Sly and The Family Stone, Otis Redding, The Temptations.

    Basically it's a lot of fun and only as limiting as you (or the other people you're playing with) make it.
  11. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Cali Intergalactic Mind Space - always on the edge
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    Here's some links you may want to check out:
    5. STYLES
    http://www.music.vt.edu/musicdictionary/appendix/blues/Bluesprogression.html progressions explained w/ audio samples
    http://www.bassblues.com Basic Blues Bass lessons/free backing tracks by NickonBass
    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=506931 Slow blues

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=517439 First blues "open mic." jam 1 of 3
    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=469825 2 of 3
    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=517730 3 of 3
    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=523050 Blues gig coming up

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=522409 Influential blues musicians (mostly) pre-1959
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blues History and styles

    http://www.amazon.com/Blues-Bass-Jon-Liebman/dp/0793586682 "Blues Bass" by TB member Jonster (John Liebman)
    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=502819 Blues books
    http://www.amazon.com/Razor-Sharp-Blues-Guitar-Turnarounds-Music/dp/B000PHU7J2 "101 Razor-Sharp Blues Turnarounds by Larry McCabe
    http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Rhythm-Guitar-Guide-Blues/dp/1574241389/ref=pd_sim_b_1 "Complete Rhythm Guitar Guide for Blues Bands" by Larry McCabe

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showpost.php?p=6527889&postcount=10 Links to over 20 funk,groove and R&B bass players
    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=314342 Funk 101
    http://www.amazon.com/Funk-Bass-Bui...079351620X/ref=pd_sim_b_5/185-2146101-2319058 "Funk Bass" by TB member Jonster (John Liebman)
    http://www.amazon.com/Funkmasters-Great-James-Rhythm-Sections/dp/1576234436/ref=pd_sim_b_1 R&B/Funk
    http://shop.jonliebman.com/product....FFD92FA.qscstrfrnt02?categoryId=1&productId=8 " Standing in the Shadows of Motown" James Jamerson book/CD
    http://shop.jonliebman.com/product.sc?categoryId=1&productId=31 Funk Bass Bible
    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=530125 New funk groups
    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=530543 Get that dead flatwound string sound

    You may also want to check out the link in my sig. for more info that may help you out.

    Keep us updated on your progress with you new project.

    Good luck.
  12. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    A good friend of mine has been playing piano and guitar in blues bands for many years. He does the "introducing the band" patter between sets, and when he gets to the bass player, he says:

    "Our bassist Joe here is in the witness relocation program. There are people from his past who would kill him if they found out his location and identity. The officials in the witness relocation program decided that he needed to be hidden someplace nobody would ever see him... so they made him the bassist in a blues band."
  13. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    I have been playing in a mostly-blues band for about 10 years now. You have to love the music in order to play it well. While the bass lines are indeed non-flashy, it will be obvious to any knowledgeable blues fans whether or not you are serious enough to have developed the right sense of groove, pocket, etc.

    My experience is that your blues band will be much more successful if you have one or more of the following elements:

    - a high-energy female vocalist (think Bonnie Raitt, Susan Tedeschi, etc.)
    - a high-quality harpist ("harmonica" for the non-blues-oriented among us)
    - Hammond/Leslie keyboards
    - a sax
    - some other instrument to provide variety...violin, perhaps

    There is nothing that gets boring faster, IMHO, than the standard drums-bass-guitar 12-bar blues band with run-of-the-mill male vocals and SRV-wannabe solos in every song.

    As mentioned in a previous post, the more different flavors of the blues you can master, the more interesting your band will be - both for the audience and for the musicians themselves.

    Usual disclaimers: IMHO, AFAIK, YMMV, $0.02, please
    Seth Miller likes this.

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