I was asked to jump up onto stage out of the audience and play an unexpected bass guitar

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Richland123, Nov 28, 2021.

  1. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    Talk about out of my comfort zone.

    I was asked to jump up onto stage out of the audience and play an unexpected bass guitar Saturday.

    I went to see a band last night that I have seen many times and I have booked for festivals I organize. They are primarily an 80s band and I know the lead singer/guitarist well.

    I was standing next to a drummer friend of mine from another local band who did not know them personally but he has heard them before.

    All of a sudden, the singer/guitarist points at me and said, "We have a couple of Johnstown's best musicians in the audience. Come on up and play with us." We were both caught off guard and did not have a big desire to go onto the stage. He kept pushing us and many people in the audience know me and kept urging me to do it.

    Well, the band's bass player had a 5 string bass and he wears it down to his knees and he stands about 5 foot 5 inches tall. I play a 4 string bass and I stand 6 feet tall. I said that I had my bass in my van and I could go get it but they said we did not have time for that. Plus, they wanted me to sing as well as play a bass that was extremely uncomfortable for me to try and play. They asked what I wanted to play and sing and I said, "How about Sharp Dressed Man?" since I knew the drummer sitting in knew it but the guitar said he could not play it. I said, "Let's do Keep Your Hands To Yourself."

    We started the song and not only did the extra string (low B) throw off my perception, but it was so low I could not reach the upper strings properly. The dance floor got packed and everybody around knows I play and sing that song. I did not feel comfortable at all and could not play the song the way I usually play it.

    Well, we finished the song and got a big round of applause and lots of compliments but I felt like I did not give a good playing performance. Vocally I was fine. The band thought I did great.

    I told them the next time I see them and they surprise me with playing that I will have my bass guitar ready to go and do a much better job.
  2. 4SG


    Mar 6, 2014
    Sounds like you pulled it off okay.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2021
  3. slagbass


    Apr 5, 2005
    I once had a similar experience. I was asked to jump on stage and sub in for a song. I figure, no problem, I've played that song (Blow at High Dough by the Tragically Hip) hundreds of times before. My "oh crap" moment came when I strapped on the bass and realized the strings were about 1/2" off the fretboard. I've never played a bass set up like that - what a chore!

    Anyway, like you, I got through the song but I had much respect for the guy who played 3 sets on that baby.
  4. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    just say "thanks" and move on....hopefully it's not the last time that happens. ;) congrats on being recognized for your abilities! :thumbsup:
    Winslow, HolmeBass, One Way and 13 others like this.
  5. Sorry for ya. I don’t like that either. I just walk away.

    5 strings mess with me too…
    Winslow and Black Out Jazz like this.
  6. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    Stuff sometimes happens that takes us out of our comfort zone. Last night I was playing a show and someone walked up with a $50 bill and said, "do you know any Robert Cray?" Well, I didn't know much, but the guitar player did, so he started playing and singing a song I'd never heard before.

    I tried my best to follow the changes but I know it wasn't a stellar performance. The crowd didn't care. She got all her friends up to dance to the Robert Cray song, the room applauded, and each of us were $12.50 richer.
  7. I don’t change my own basses mid set just because of front of house.
    They brought you up to have some fun. Hopefully you had some fun.
    Reason my band brings up a guest musician - friend in the crowd for fun at low profile gig, vocals need a short break, musician has to pee mid set.
    Jim Kernan and DJ Bebop like this.
  8. Texaspandj


    Feb 13, 2021
    Heart Of Texas
    I was running in a Austin half marathon and my son was playing with his own band on the sidewalk (like other bands) and he said on the P.A. Dad come and play a song so I did. HOWEVER, my fingers were frozen and the bass player was playing a 5 string...yeah not so good.
    SemiDriven likes this.
  9. happened to me a few years ago too... a covers band I used to play with in the early 1990's had reformed in the mid 2000's and were still going with the original singer, guitarist and the bass player who replaced me.
    they were holding a reunion gig as the other guitarist (who had moved to Australia) was going to be in the country.... myself and the original drummer were invited to come to the gig which we did....
    sure enough during the second set singer announces "please welcome Nick our original bass player and Gavin our original drummer to the stage"
    the bass player who replaced me is female about 5"6 and holds her bass very high up like Victor Wooten or Mark King.... man was it uncomfortable to play like that.... we only did 2 songs (both unrehearsed) and my arm was aching after that!
    she laughed and apologised for not adjusting the strap to suit me... I'll see if I can find the photos my wife took
  10. kevindahl


    Aug 21, 2006
    Vancouver, BC
    Having done the same thing as you and failing miserably I will never jam in public on a 5 string. Don't own one and find them very confusing.
    Richland123, Williethump and woodyng2 like this.
  11. Ostie


    Aug 1, 2018
    Mid MI
    Way back in the 80s I was asked to come up and play a song with a band. The bass player handed me his Steinberger and I was like “WTH?” It was very awkward. Ever since then I’ve had an aversion to headless basses. I can still remember that the song was “Walking in LA”.
  12. Ekulati

    Ekulati Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2016
    Richmond, VA
    I would have said I need to adjust the strap. I'll put it back where it was.
    ZedLepp and juggahnaught like this.
  13. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Sounds fun. That’s a compliment. Take it as such. That says they wanted to recognize you. Hope you had a blast.
    PDW30, Richland123 and james condino like this.
  14. Tim Skaggs

    Tim Skaggs

    Sep 28, 2002
    I’ve sat in with bands dozens of times. Sometimes it goes well and sometimes it goes badly.

    On the other hand, one night I was playing with my 3 piece band and our lead singer / guitarist’s brother was in the crowd. The guitarist asked me if it was ok with me for his brother to come up and play one on bass. I said, “sure”, but I was playing fretless and it was the only bass I had at the gig. The brother was not an accomplished bassist by any means, but he did know a few songs on bass, however, he had never touched a fretless. It was as bad as you would imagine & then some. We laugh about it now, but on that night, nobody was laughing. I tried to tell them, but they said they were going to do a “simple song”. They attempted to play a song by UFO. I couldn’t recognize the song…..
    jwindham, Richland123, TL23NC and 5 others like this.
  15. jk_bass


    Jun 28, 2006
    just have fun and go with it.....
    timplog likes this.
  16. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Some years ago I went to see some friends play, a band that was starting out and since then have gone on to make a few really good albums. It was, all told, more of a jam at a local brewery, but then again, with the additional guests, they played more covers that gig than originals, although I knew their originals. About half-way through the first set the bass player had me come up. He said he was tired and wanted a break. Actually, I think he wanted to spend time with his girlfriend (now married to her, family, etc.). I ended up playing the rest of the night!!! I made sure that whatever player knew all the chords of any particular song I may not have known that well I glued my eyes to the fretting hand. Whew! I did get free craft beer out of the deal! Great night.

    The same thing happened at a steam engine show about a dozen years ago. Some folks were jamming, and I stayed close to the double bass player to watch his technique on the bluegrass and gospel songs they were playing. He invited me to play a couple we all knew. Afterwards I said thanks, and I thought that was it. About an hour later, the guitar player came looking for me. He told me the dirt track needed more drying out, and the producer of the show wanted us to play to keep the crowd from leaving while they finished drying out the track. At that point it was before I got my own double bass and I was winging it all the way around: finding notes on a double bass, supporting the group, and the occasional low voice on the gospel songs. Thankfully, all the songs were traditional verse type songs, so once I saw how the chords went on the first verse and chorus of the songs I didn't know, or knew well, I was able to keep going. At that point I had never gigged on a double bass. Whew!!!

    Yes, all players need that experience once every few years just to keep you on your toes and gauge your playing against what is actually out there besides your own little niche. Kudos to the OP for diving in and making it happen.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2021
  17. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    Only take opportunities you think you can do passably well. You never know who will see/hear you and get an indelible impression of your playing abilities.

    I am still paying for mistakes I made by overreaching over twenty years ago.
    BlueTalon likes this.
  18. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    You carried yourself with grace and poise under pressure. Way to plow on through!
    Richland123, pcake and Clutchcargo like this.
  19. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    I have mixed feelings about this. I play with some people who aren't the world's greatest, and I do it to help out a member who is a bit green. I won't do it forever; it's not a musically satisfying gig but it is a nice thing to do.

    Do I cringe when someone I know walks by when I am playing with them? Yep. But I also play with other bands here that are much better. People know me by that work, and if they're going to judge me by this band that isn't all that good, I suppose it's their choice. I still think tossing some good juju out into the world is not a bad thing. People were there for me when I was new.
    timplog, Al Rivera, BLDavis and 3 others like this.
  20. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    As long as nobody expected a crazy solo, just accept it and walk away clean. It’s good to be a respected member in good standing on ‘the scene’.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2021
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