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I have a blues gig coming up.... I have never played the blues...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by powderfinger, Mar 3, 2009.

  1. powderfinger


    Feb 24, 2009
    I was asked today to sit in on bass with a local, established blues band for an upcoming blues festival. Their bassist is going to be out of town, and they are booked ahead of time, and I am friends with a member of the band, so he asked me.

    Ive never played with a blues band. Ive played in some bands that did rockabilly, country, and rock. My area of experise is playing "country rock", which I consider Gram Parsons, The Byrds, and lots of stuff like that. I do lots of walking bass, but never the blues...

    I am familiar with the I IV V and will have no trouble with progressions. I am just thinking my walking lines will be too boring and predictable. Any of you guys got any advice or tips?
  2. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Banned

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass
    Did you disclose this to your friend? Your lack of experience playing blues?.

    How much time to prepare?

    The main areas a inexperienced blues guy will show his thing is.

    1) there are terms for styles and grooves so if they "talk" up the song in these terms instead of calling a tune that will be played like the recording........

    2) the Last 2 bars is the most neglected part of a green players vocab. There are a number of basic harmonic cliche's that happen there
    you need to know them!

    3) Slow Blues! this will show a lack of expierince also see #2!

  3. To the OP: don't think too much about walking lines. Walking constantly is bad. Play the root a lot, pedal it when guitar drama happens-it helps bring up the energy when done at the right times.
    Listen very carefully to the changes, especially the last two bars as stated by Andrew, because a lot of tunes have particular chord choices at the end which must be played. If there's a keyboard player get the changes from him. Listen, listen, listen.
    Fat tone is important.
    And whatever you do, don't rush the feel, it kills it. Lay back.
    Have fun.
  4. I'd buy a variety of blues records and play along as much as you can... practice! Good blues bass is not simple... and only boring if you're playing boring bass lines. The real important thing is that the bass has to make it swing... and you know the saying. Good luck!
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  6. Kenny Allyn

    Kenny Allyn

    Mar 25, 2006
    To the OP, it's all a feel thing if you can play that alt country thing you are way ahead of the game, lay back behind the beat and groove, then every so often nail a hard ONE just to let them know your there.

    ;) ... Seriously get them to tell you what kinda stuff they play and listen to a few records, you should be fine
  7. butchblack

    butchblack Life is short. Do good. Find and do what you love.

    Jan 25, 2007
    Waltham Massachusetts
    There are a few common rhythms that comprise a large part of blues. Flat tire (tha thump, tha thump), march, swing, boogie-woogie. If you have a sense of them and are comfortable with progressions you'll be ok. Listen to the drums to get the beat and the rest of the band to get the feel. Don't over play. Simple strong lines work much better then a lot of noodling.

    Most important

    Have Fun
  8. I-IV-V

    /thread :ninja:
  9. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI

    Lay back and stay behind the beat. Play each note like you own it.

    And most important, lock in with the drummer, and give the guitar, and harp players a platform big enough to perform Hamlet on.

    It's not about looking good, it's all about making the soloists look good.
  10. Toronto Bassist

    Toronto Bassist

    Jan 9, 2008
    If you have a decent amount of time to prepare, you might want to learn as many blues "standards" as you can...hideaway, crosscut saw, born under a bad sign, key to the highway, hoochie coochie man, the thrill is gone, etc.
  11. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    It all depends on the type of blues... I'd at least find out if it is the VERY straight, slower blues that some folks (myself included) find painfully dull... or is it more uptempo swamp blues, jump blues, hot blues - etc - - That stuff *can* give you a workout if the band is rockin' - -

    no matter what type of blues, be ready to turn your tone back - ringing bass just doesn't fit into this type of music. And sync up tight with the drummer, listen for his kick drum - that will help you out.
  12. powderfinger


    Feb 24, 2009
    To whoever asked if the guy who asked me to do the gig knew about my inexperience, yes he did. I told him. Plus, he plays in another band with me.... so...

    Im going to rehearse with them a few times, so Im not worried about the progressions... anything I dont get by ear, Ill ask the others in the band... no biggie.

    I guess my concern was the "style" itself.... I reckon Im better off listening to some of the suggested tracks posted above.

    I can tell you the style of blues these guys do is similiar to stuff like Delbert McClinton... if that helps... I guess I can always listen to some Delbert. And I guess it doesnt hurt their former bassist is their current rythm guitarist!!
  13. tom e smith

    tom e smith

    Jan 27, 2008
    The trick to playing the blues well is to break up with your girlfriend right before you go on.
    TmsSinner likes this.
  14. You must have never seen Albert Collins live before.
  15. Bluejay


    May 12, 2008
    You can probably go on YouTube and find many of the songs the band will play. Spend an hour with the blues. You'll get it!
    Here, Dig a little on Albert King...'Blues Power',

    You'll see by these examples, if you're good, you can play however you want; but, you got to groove!
    The Blues......Dig it!!!
  16. Stumbo

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

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    Does your friend have some recordings of his band? A set list? In addition, maybe he can loan you some of his blues recordings or learning material?

    Here's some TB links that may help you out:

    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

    A good CD to give a listen to is the Allman Brothers Band "Live at the Fillmore East"

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=506931 Slow blues
    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=522409 Influential blues musicians (mostly) pre-1959
    http://www.music.vt.edu/musicdictionary/appendix/blues/Bluesprogression.html Blues Progressions explained with samples

    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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blues History
  17. doktorfeelgood

    doktorfeelgood layin' it down like pavement Supporting Member

    Get your friend in the band to give you a copy of their songs on a cd and work on them religiously 'till the show. That way you'll have a little head-start. But like some of the other posters have mentioned, listen to the drummer and rhythm guitar player and DO NOT rush the beat. You'll have some fun and then want to be in the band full-time...lol
    Best Of Luck and keep us posted as to how the show went.
    Peace )-:)cool:
  18. jimc


    Sep 17, 2002
    New Carsmell, CA
    If you find playing the blues is boring then the way that you're playing it is boring.

    I'll take one well placed note over a hundred out of pocket widdles any day of the week.
  19. bigfatbass

    bigfatbass Banned

    Jun 30, 2003
    Upstate NY
    Endorsing Artist: Karl Hoyt Basses
    Your run of the mill ANY kind of band is boring. How does that matter to the OP? Your post was an obvious troll, and far more out of line than anything you'll receive in return.

    In exactly what way was your blatant troll post NOT insulting?

    Dude, you list a power strip in your previously owned gear. IF all you have to back up your argument is "I think blues is boring" then you have nothing constructive to offer this thread. Why did you post in the first place, if not mere trolling in order to receive the reaction you are currently receiving?

    This all will most likely cost me an infraction, and maybe even a vacation, but I'll accept it with no regrets. I'm tired of people with no knowledge, and even less respect/tact piping up where the only purpose of their "input" is to be a contrary dooshbag.

    You asked for exactly what you got.:spit::scowl:
  20. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    Got time to get your heart broken before the festival? That would help. (For real... but maybe not worth it if you're just subbing.) :D

    I got plenty of respect for the genre. I've been freelancing for 10 years and I just got my butt kicked big-time on a blues recording project. Some people may not be able to discern which tracks got laid down by local boy and which were done by a big name in LA. But I sure as heck can. :rolleyes:

    AFAIC there's 3 major factors involved: feel, feel and feel.

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