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I got schooled badly at an open mic :-(

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by jeffbassguy, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. jeffbassguy

    jeffbassguy "Less is more, unless the guitarist sucks"

    Feb 4, 2001
    This has been bothering me for days. So I normally don't do the open mic thing anymore but my family all had the flu and I needed to get out of that germfest. The host was a drummer friend who I had done some for hire gigs with and he had a fusion guitarist and a bass player doing a blues jam so I figured, this should be interesting even though I am not the biggest fan of blues. I knew the bass player was Lucky Peterson's go to guy and I had seen him before but what happened when I got there was ridiculous. They didn't play blues. They played Oleo, dragon's gate, summertime, and 10 or so other fusion jazz and motown songs. This bass player was probably the best I have ever seen, and I have seen what I thought were the best of the best..He had tone, groove, and melodic notes like I have never seen. His solos were off the chain and not one slap or pluck through the night. And when he got off stage he came over said hello and was the most humble guy. His name was Mike Nunno. Following that sucked and I had always been thought of around the area as one of the decent players but this night I felt like a clown. I have been very humbled by this experience and it has really caused me to rethink my playing altogether. I had become complacent with my practice regiment (permutations, modes, soloing) which now gets my full attention. I will never judge another musician based on what they do with the band they play with because you may not know that a guy like Mike Nunno is one of the best bass players in the world otherwise.
    cchorney and Radio like this.
  2. I don't think you should ever feel like following a guy that like is going to be a bad experience. You got up there and played and I'll bet nobody sat there wishing it was the other guy. We tend to beat ourselves up over experiences like this. I've gone to a few jams at the request of a local player whom I consider one of the best players I've seen and it sounds like these two guys are very similar. Gregg Hollister is the players name and along with incredible bass chops and feel, the guy sings like an angel. He is the whole package as far as a performer goes. He always inspires me as a player when I see him.
  3. powmetalbassist

    powmetalbassist Supporting Member

    Its great that it got you motivated to practice again, but don't beat yourself up over it. No matter how good you are there is always someone who is going to be better...so don't get worked up over it. Besides 90% of people won't notice the difference in bass playing unless their a bassist. Also if your worried about what he thought you said he was humble. humble bassist tend to be able to see the good in everyones playing, regardless if your the next Billy Sheehan, Victor Wooten or some casual weekend warrior.
    HolmeBass likes this.
  4. Its the curse of the motivated musician: the same energy that drives us to be better, and to practice, also drives us to endless self-criticism. Sounds like you learned a lot that night.
  5. Did you all make music and enjoy each other's company? Then you did fail - you WON. That fact that you strive to improve is awesome - and the fact that you don't think you are the sh*t is even more awesome.
    Piggy8692 likes this.
  6. I get it. I've been 'schooled' a few times over the past couple years. My bandmates and close friends seem to think I'm a pretty good bassist. Every now and then, I might think the same thing.

    One night at an open-mic Jazz session is enough to disabuse myself of that thought.

    Putting myself in positions like that has certainly made me a better player.

    But man, I HATE that feeling!
  7. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    I go to an open mic all the time and there are several really good bass players always there. They all know me and we all just do our thing. I just hate when getting to play and the band picks songs I'm not very familiar with so I tend to stumble a little and that annoys me. But sometimes I get to shine doing what I do. If I would have a suggestion it would be to learn the same songs they played. In fact, I've been woodshedding the arpeggio section of Spain and plan to play it one of these days at an open mic! The rest of the song is easy.
  8. Staredge


    Aug 7, 2010
    Damascus, MD

    ^and this. Did you really suck? Did the crowd get up and leave, throwing their empty cups at you? More importantly......did you play to the best of YOUR ability? I've had the sensation of watching someone and then wanting to go home and either A)practicing a LOT, or B) burning my bass. Don't sweat it, and don't be so hard on yourself.
  9. We never stop learning. Now you have some skills for development. Aside from you watching the performance, an equally important thing to take away is the other bassist's humble attitude after the show.

    Many years ago, I had also been considered as one of the better bassists in my small town. Then one day, the Rock Across America tour stopped in our small town. Rock Across America consisted of Bill Dickens, Bobby Rock and Neil Zaza. If you haven't seen Dickens live, I strongly urge it. Those videos on YouTube are already amazing, but even they don't do justice to seeing him live. Also, he did not have his 7-string at the time. Rock Across America was a Peavey sponsored clinic/tour, so he was using a peavey 6-string at that time.

    After seeing Bill live, I suddenly realized that my bass knowledge may only be scraping a 5-10% of the full range the bass can provide. After the performance, they stayed afterwards, taking questions from the audience and signing autographs. Although they were all amazing, the 3 were incredibly humble. Something I've never forgotten.
  10. Hehe. Not only players around your age, but you should probably be aware there are children out there that have wicked chops.

    Also several years ago, I attended the Drum Fest in Montreal. Several greats were there, but also performing was a young child, Tony Royster Jr. He pretty much blew the audience away. The MC afterward jokingly told the audience, "If you see him after the show, shake his hand... Then break his wrist." lol
  11. 4dog


    Aug 18, 2012
    IMO this is what jams are for, to see what your not, and what you could be, networking is good too. Lol
  12. Art Araya

    Art Araya

    May 29, 2006
    Palm Coast, FL
    Is Mike Nunno Bob Nunno's (sax) brother? I went to school in Ct with Bob. Excellent sax player and has perfect pitch to boot. If Mike is anything like his brother Bob, I can see how he would be all of the things you mention.

    Come to think of it, I believe that is Mike Nunno and I remember that I got schooled by him too. He and I jammed once when I was in music school - oh it had to be about 20 years ago. I don't recall if he was just visiting his brother for the day or if he was a student. If he was a student it was only for a year or so. So the jam was just the two of us playing some jazz standards - it was at his invitation. His walking was so much more melodic and than mine - I hit the changes but his walking lines sang. When it came time to solo he just tore it up while again I just struggled to hit the changes. He was just a very melodic player with a beautiful tone and command of his instrument. And he was young at the time too - he couldn't have been more than a late teen at the time.

    And he was truly humble. Kept on acting like it was his honor and privilege to play with me. I kept thinking to myself - is this kid deluded or something? Can he not hear that he is leagues better than me? I think he was just being respectful - I was older than him. Well mannered, good-natured, humble and it seemed authentic.

    I walked away feeling like you did bro...
    Oddly and Joebone like this.
  13. mccartneyman


    Dec 22, 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Managing Editor, Bass Guitars Editor, MusicGearReview.com
    Play the best you can and learn to be happy with it. Certainly find inspiration in others, but not everyone can play everything.
  14. ZBirdV8


    Feb 26, 2012
    Detroit Michigan
    I learned pretty earlier on in my playing that I was never going to be the anything more than mediocre on the technical level.

    So I went the route of being a really good dude to work with, the ultimate team player. I set up practices, book gigs, and hall equipment for everybody.

    The payoff is that I insist on being part of theatrical act. If I can't do costume and effects I won't join. People probably wont remember my playing, but they will remember my bands performance.

    So what I am saying is, don't try to out-tech somebody, just make what you do more fantastic.
  15. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    I would use it as a tool to identify what you can work on to become better. It's a positive situation even though it hurts your pride. It's not easy to admit when someone is better than you at anything.

    I know how you feel though. Some videos I watch on youtube of really really good players make me want to give up. Then I snap back into reality and remember how much I love playing bass.
  16. BBass06


    Mar 8, 2004
    I had a similar experience I heard another bass player playing at school that was better than I was. I got to talking with him and he said he was studying with Mike Nunno. I didn't know Mike at the time and I went to see him play a Latin jazz gig and his playing just blew me away. I had talked to him after the show and he was very humble and I asked to study with him. I have had a few other teachers but IMHO he is both a great player and great teacher and someone that I am proud to call a close friend.
  17. odineye


    Dec 29, 2011
    Bear DE
    And... This ^^ is why I'll never stop attending open mic/jam nights.

    #1. You never know who you'll meet and what you will learn.
    #2. IMO playing at these jams keeps us sharp.

    The way I look at it is; Everyone is there to have some fun, not just me, and to do that we all need to keep it somewhat tight. Since there is no practice before hand and that moment is the ONE chance to get it right so, while I'm on stage I have to be extra sharp, aware of all the other players AND focused on my part, to keep the fun moving.

    And of course... There are always those times when "that guy" shows up and I feel like a 10 year old who just got caught playing a tennis racquet in my bedroom. :oops:
    But, 9 times out of 10 he ends up being super cool and approachable and willing to share whatever you may ask.

    In other words, open mic/jam nights have turned out to be some of the best teaching/learning exercises I could ever provide myself.
  18. Basshappi


    Feb 12, 2007
    Sounds to me like you got "schooled goodly". :D
  19. Happened to me the first time I saw Vic Wooten jam it out. Natural. What's the quote that Vic uses on one of his albums, an old tinny recording of a gentleman who tell us, "when the going gets tough, it is positive signal to charge ahead."

    LIVE IT! and "thought" you were good. HA! Mother Music done educated you to the truth! :) as is HER job......conspiring to make you even better...

    BTW, I love it when hotass playas are humble souls. The way it should be.
    HolmeBass likes this.
  20. bassvi


    Jul 12, 2005
    I can relate. I have a pretty good reputation but once you've been to the mountaintop (schooled) a few times you realize how many great talented and hard working other players are out there it's easy to feel insignificant. I know players who act like they need to one-up everyone else to validate their skills/ego. I don't think that's healthy either. After catching the big picture more than a few times, I try to appreciate great playing and musicianship when I hear it and try not to compare myself so much. You really can't. It's not always easy, but remember you as an individual have something unique that only you can share and express in your music...when you find yourself you are at peace with yourself and can make music to bring joy to others and yourself, and not worry so much about your relative standing to other players.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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