Your peak musical experiences - talk about 'em!

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by kesslari, Apr 25, 2019.

  1. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    Did you ever have one of those experiences playing where not only everything was clicking but the music took on a whole 'nother level - where it felt like the music was playing you rather than you playing the music? Preferably not substance- or ego- induced where you were the only one who thought so, but where the whole band and the audience is completely blown away by what just went down with the music?

    I've been blessed to have had a couple, and they are a big part of the reason I play, on the chance that I might experience that again.

    First time was with a reggae band, playing a NYE gig at a beloved hippie coffeehouse (Borsodi's in Isla Vista). Our regular sax player couldn't make it, and we got a sub who was a truly brilliant young player (heck, we were all young). We were playing the Black Uhuru song "Leaving for Zion" and Chris, the sax player, just took off... and the band followed, and then we were all airborne without losing the grounding of the groove. The groove... just got HUGE. And we played and played. I found myself wondering how we were going to end it - there just didn't seem to be a way, the groove and the solos and the dancers just kept BUILDING and GOING...

    I think, for me, that's actually a flag for the experience - those times I think "how the heck are we going to end this? It has a life of it's own..."

    The other notable time was playing with a ecstatic World Music fusion band, Dreamtime Continuum. This was the most "Grateful Dead"- like band I ever played in - not because we played any Dead tunes, but because it was extremely improvisatory and went far more by feel than by thinking, and because when it worked it was brilliant and when it didn't it was kind of flat, but the "brilliant" outweighed and made up for the "flat".

    We were playing, people were dancing. Again, the groove and the energy were enormous - a great juggernaut of groove. I had the thought "we've probably been playing this tune for 20 minutes - might want to wrap it up, but how?..." and looked at the clock for the first time since we started. We'd been playing that groove for nearly an hour, and people were still deeply into it.
    I looked over at our Tabla player (a very ecstatic kind of guy in his own right) and yelled "Hey Jeff - how do we end this thing?"
    His response was one I carry with me to this day - he said "We'll know it's over because we'll all be on the floor naked and screaming..."

    What are your stories?
  2. The nine years I spent playing with Texas Johnny Brown were chock full of musical highlights.

    I came into a a band where the other 3 players had been playing together for seven years and everyone was much older. All I had to do was get in their groove and all was well.

    Johnny would regularly take me places with his playing, what I like to describe as "flying", where you are onstage but you are so focused and in the groove that you forget where you are. I have rough mix CDs of shows where I hear myself playing things that just came out of me that I never played again.

    Many great times playing with this man. The most memorable moments where the crowd was involved were when we played at the unveiling of his marker on the Blues Trail with the crowd going nuts


    and playing the Smithsonian Folklife festival and having the Prince of Bhutan request that we come back and jam with him! We played Come Together by the Beatles.


    TJB was already in his late 70's when I started with the band but still had a ton of energy and knew how to deliver it to a crowd.


    I've played with other musicians that could take me out of my head and make me fly, but none as consistently as Johnny Brown. I miss him every day.

  3. He sounds like he was a great guy! Those are experiences of a lifetime.

    The one that sticks in my mind was a duo I was in. I played guitar and sang, partner played pedal steel guitar. We played a friend's wedding. It was hot and people were having a great time dancing and carrying on. How we put out so much music being just two people, I'll never know. But there was some special magic in the room that day.
  4. The Owl

    The Owl

    Aug 14, 2005
    When I lived in Boston my experience of this type of nirvana came with the band Tony Island. It was an original band led by a singing pianist/songwriter who always kept things interesting. We cut a CD but my favorite times were onstage when we really let the tiger out of the pen. So many times that music played us. TINewSongFolkClub2000.jpg TIRylesPhilDeadlyLowNote.jpg TIClubThree1998-3.jpg
  5. I cant remember how long ago it was, but probably about six or so years ago. The band was one I had been in for about 5 or so years at that point. The night was during Memorial Day Weekend. The town I live in always throws a big bash that weekend. That year, the main stage was in a new location. We had been the opener for the night, playing from around 7pm til 8pm or so. Then the main act took the stage. The stage was located across the street from the only bar in the town. The plan was, we were going to play the opening slot, then while the main act played their couple of sets, we would go into the bar and set up, and when they finished we would play in the bar til close, probably about a set and a half. We had a pretty good following but weren't really huge in the area at the time. As the main act did their thing the bar started to fill up. It was going to be a big night. They finished and we got started right away. We didn't want to play anything we had played across the street, so we had some things thrown in the set that we did well, but had never performed before an audience. About halfway through the set the crowd was on fire, and so were we. We came to a song that we had only played at practice a few times, but with the way the crowd was, it was worth it. We launched into Zep's "Whole Lotta Love" and the place came unglued. When the psychadelic part in the middle came around, the drummer was doing cool stuff, the singer was in full Robert Plant mode and I was just standing by watching it all. The sound guy was panning the drums and cymbals left and right. Then the guitar player grabbed a beer bottle out of some girls hand who was in front of him, drank about half of it, poured the rest over their heads and started using it for all of these crazy swirling sounds. The place was out of control! When we came back in to the groove of the song, we were on a totally different plain, and were like a totally different band. We hadn't planned any of that, it just came out. When we finished, the drummer said "damn, how do you follow that!" We did, but after that night that song never came out of the set. We played it as our closing song for the next six years. Every night it was just as crazy.

    There have been others...The time one of my nurses was at a show and I saw her standing on a chair singing along with us...The time we were in the upstairs bar at a restaurant and the whole downstairs area was singing along with us on some song. Those kind of things just drag you along with the momentum. But that first story is one that always gets brought up when my friends and I are talking about the great gigs!

    Edit to add a picture of that night...


    S-Bigbottom, JRA and 5StringBlues like this.
  6. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    all great stuff! it's transcendent. that's what many of us want to do --- we want to transcend. :thumbsup:

    i was lucky enough to be the bassist in a piano trio which created 'gateways' to altered states, regularly. my current 7pc. jazz band is capable on occasion. those moments are worth the price of admission. :D
  7. I agree. There are moments in each time I play that I kinda "get lost in the moment"... :bassist:

    5StringBlues and JRA like this.

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