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Who's still an active solo bassist?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Darren Michaels, Jan 8, 2019.

  1. Howdy bass brethren!
    It's been a long time since I was active on this site. Seems it's changed a good bit and there are a lot more guidelines, as things do. Hopefully, I'm posting this in the correct place and not ignorantly stepping on toes.
    I was just wondering if any players on here are active as performing solo bassists? Personally, I'm emerging out of a mini-retirement and trying to find where the scene went. When I was last active, seems like there were many performers exploring this side of bass. I'm wondering who is still at it and where you are playing. So yeah, who on here is playing out as a soloist and what sort of venues do you haunt?
    TonyP-, Inara and Tony In Philly like this.
  2. Wanker_Joe


    Sep 26, 2017
    I do a bass + vocals solo act a few times a year. It's smaller venues and gigs with the acoustic crowd and some stranger stuff (like as an in-between act at an amateur comedy show). I'm viewed sort of as a novelty act.
  3. Very cool. I opened for a comedian once. It was a good experience.
    Yeah, the acoustic/singer songwriter spaces I've been to were open to the idea of solo bass as well. I like playing those sort of places. The audiences are cool with a quieter dynamic.
    Wanker_Joe likes this.
  4. Wanker_Joe


    Sep 26, 2017
    It's been a lot of fun. I'm trying to branch out into blues-type stuff, I think my bass-vocals schtick might work pretty well, but it's not ready for prime-time yet.

    Speaking of comedians, I once did a solo bass backing track to a friend's comedy routine. It was a blast! He did things like "what's the deal with airplane food" jokes while I played the Seinfeld theme. We should do it again sometime. The crowd thought it was a riot!
    saabfender, wmmj, HolmeBass and 3 others like this.
  5. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Big Dogs Staff Member Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    Hey Darren, great to see you on here. I'm not doing any solo stuff but am delighted to be able to say hello!
  6. My vocal work lost me some listeners. HA! But I gotta be me.
    Wow, bass backing to a comedy routine sounds neat! I'm having a hard time imagining it, though. The Mike Myers coffeehouse shtick from So I Married an Axe Murderer pops into my head.
    Do you have any recordings? I'd love to hear it.

    Side note: I'm diggin' Aaron Gibson's latest Horror Films and Sunday School. He's a master singing/solo bassist.
  7. Wow, man. Hey! It's been quite some time. Glad to run into you here!
  8. Wanker_Joe


    Sep 26, 2017
    Heh. The coffeehouse scene from So I Married an Axe Murderer isn't too far from the truth. I wish we had recorded it.

    Personally I'm not actually all that good at either the bass or the vocal parts; my act is equal parts music and swagger. Perhaps that's why I only get onstage solo a few times a year haha. I started doing it just to prove to myself that I could by signing up one night to an open stage, and then much to my surprise I ended up getting a few calls to perform at small events, so I figured "why not". Funny how it works that way.

    Thanks for the head's up on Aaron Gibson's latest. I'll give it a spin this evening.
    Darren Michaels likes this.
  9. You hit the nail on the head, swagger.
    I noticed some soloist getting bogged down in being "good". With most people in an audience, I feel, they just want to see something interesting and be entertained. Only musicians will have the opinions about if a player is "good" and then only bassists will notice if a bass player is "good". Some of my favorite solo bassists have found a way to be funny with it or spout interesting poetry while grooving or abstract the sound of bass guitar and create ambient sound paintings. Their performances are entertaining. Sonic push-ups can get a little draining on the ears after a while.
    Wanker_Joe likes this.
  10. Wanker_Joe


    Sep 26, 2017
    When I first started playing solo my singer/songwriter friends confided that the hardest part of doing it is just getting the nerve up to do it, and that nobody really cares what you play so long as the crowd is enjoying what you do. And they aren't wrong! It can be so nerve wracking! Especially when I flub a note or forget a lyric. It's a whole different ball game when I don't have a band that I can fall back on to help cover my mistakes and keep that momentum going. Hence the swagger. I figured if I can exude confidence and keep trucking along maybe the crowd will come with me.

    How about yourself? Doing the solo thing?
    Darren Michaels likes this.
  11. There is Bess Greenberg that came down our way, although I didn't go and see her. She did a performance with Bass and Vocals. https://www.kidbess.com/about
    Wanker_Joe and Darren Michaels like this.
  12. My experience is a little backward than most. My first solo sets were just breaks
    Cool. I just checked out "Where Will I Be". Very nice!
    Wanker_Joe likes this.
  13. I started with solo sets in the middle of an original band's sets. My loop solo bass songs blended back into the band's set. Then around the turn of the century, I started gigging restaurants, coffeehouses, listening rooms, art galleries, and small festivals just doing the looping and effects solo bass thing. Worked my way across the southern half of the US doing it that way. Added vocals in 2008 on some things and became mostly a singer-songwriter solo bassist by 2012. Played some larger rooms until things tapered down in 2015 after I released my fourth album to the sound of crickets. I decided to hiatus then. Heh.
    It's neat to see some of these emerging solo bassists and how they're tackling it. There are some really musical things happening.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
  14. Seems like there’s a ton of solo bass content being posted online but there never was a scene for it here as far as live performances. Maybe in LA or NYC or something though. The main player who does solo bass stuff I enjoy is Janek Gwizdala. His “last second world tour” is pretty well documented on his YouTube page. I just don’t have enough time to be able to play at the level I’d want doing it. Closest thing I do is Duo gigs occasionally. I’ll post solo stuff online but it’s stuff like this which is actually really simple reharms of movie soundtracks and stuff
  15. Totally. There are a lot of edge-of-bed Youtubing going on in solo bass, but that's completely fine. Absolutely nothing wrong with it.
    Janek Gwizdala is a beast. Glad he does what he does.
    I noticed you're in NC. I'm in the Atlanta-area. I've played a ton of solo bass gigs in NC, but not in Fayetteville. It's mostly been Charlotte, Chapel Hill/Durham, and Wilmington...and a few other smaller towns that I just can't remember.
    You're getting a nice sound with your acoustic. I've never met a musician who is 100% satisfied with their abilities. One of my past instructors told to "just go out and suck for a while". I totally took him up on that and started booking gigs.
    Nephilymbass likes this.
  16. Yeah I haven’t played Charlotte In 2 years. Last time I was there was opening for Nonpoint at the underground with my originals band. Been way longer since I played chapel hill. Most of our shows outside of Fayetteville are actually at the beach like Jacksonville, Wilmington, and myrtle beach. We’ve never consistently booked gigs in other big NC cities like Charlotte, Winston Salem, and Greensboro but we’ve played them all here and there.
    It’s been about 15 years since I’ve played Atlanta. I remember playing the velvet underground which was right next door to the Hard Rock Cafe downtown. My mom recently moved a few minutes south of Atlanta, I was there for thanksgiving. Nice area.

    The acoustic is just a cheap fender cb-100ce
    With $10 fender strings. Recorded acoustically with my iPhone. Nothing fancy. It’s not the easiest bass to pay. Truss rod needs to be adjusted. I like it though. I leave it out in my living room and because it’s so easy to grab I actually play it the most at home
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
    Darren Michaels likes this.
  17. FunkyEel


    Dec 29, 2018
    Portland, Oregon
    I saw Stu Hamm do a solo bass set in Portland about 4-5 years ago. He was entertaining.
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  18. I've got a cheap-o Dean sitting by the sofa. Comes in handy!
    Wow, the Velvet Underground! I played solo at that venue once Hard Rock absorbed it. It was bizarre. The crowd was a bunch of tourists staring at me with puzzled looks. Ha! I had fun, though.
    Nephilymbass likes this.
  19. Reg Braithwaite

    Reg Braithwaite

    Oct 21, 2018
    Mitch Hedberg did an entire album with a double bass backing him:

    The bassist is credited as Chuck Savage.
  20. I've never gotten the pleasure of seeing his live show other than at NAMM shows. Someone told me he tells funny stories.
    FunkyEel likes this.

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