Getting Back into the Groove

back into the grooveFor the past couple of months I have gotten way off track with my writing and bass playing and desperately need to get back into the groove. It is evident here as I haven’t written a new post in quiet some time. My bass studies have, unfortunately, suffered the same fate.  Truthfully I hardly touched my bass for a span of almost 2 months.

Back in October my band decided to do some home recording in Garageband on my Mac. The bass and drums went down first and were pretty solid, leaving only minor bass overdubs to do. I’ve since been acting as producer and engineer while my guitarist, vocalist and keyboardist added his parts. I have done recording in the past so it is not a new experience for me, but this is the first time I have done a full on multi track recording in Garageband. I knew going in that it would end up eating a lot of my free time, but I also knew It would be a great learning experience.

This resulted in me taking an unplanned break from playing, focusing instead on mixing and recording.  Looking back at my practice logs I realized that I had been practicing almost everyday for quite a some time, so just putting down the bass and stepping away for a while actually turned out to be a nice break.  The recording process also helped hone my skills at listening to the entire band and hearing how each part fits into the mix.

IMG_0309Now that I am in the final stages of the mixing process I have started getting back into the groove of playing on a daily basis.  Though it was nice to take a break, when it comes right down to it, I really miss playing.  I miss writing too, and hope to be more diligent about posting.  I actually have several topics in the pipeline I just need to hunker down and flush them out.

I’ve started 2016 off with high musical ambitions.  Each day I plan to devote time to ukulele and guitar as well as bass.  For me the key is baby steps with the uke and guitar.  I play them each for only 15 or 20 minutes. By practicing in small chunks, consistently each day, I hope to slowly, but steadily improve my playing.  So far I have made great progress on the ukulele. Guitar is more of a challenge for me, but I keep plugging along and I know that eventually I will get there.

My other goal for 2016 is to get back into the habit of writing on a regular basis. As I mentioned, I currently have a few topics in the queue and would like to write about my recording experience as well as learning the ukulele and guitar.  Finding time to do everything I want continues to be challenge for me but I am striving to make 2016 the year I rise to the occasion and get back into the groove!

Cheers for now and Happy New Year!

 

Call For Submissions

Call for Submissionsman-with-a-megaphone-1-1412327

Looking to get your album reviewed?  Want to be featured in an “Artist Spotlight”?  Got a new piece of gear and want to write-up a review for it?BassRamblings is always on the look out for quality content to feature.  I invite you to submit your Music, Bio, Post Ideas, Guest Postings, or anything else you think might interest our readers.  

Just drop me an email at [email protected]

 

 

 

 

Slow and Steady Wins The Race


The_Tortoise_and_the_Hare_-_Project_Gutenberg_etext_19994Lately I’ve been feeling like I have hit a plateau in my learning.  You know the place, you keep practicing but don’t seem to make any progress.  This is a frustrating place to be, to say the least. I’ve been here many time and have learned to recognize it as such, but still, I have been struggling with finding the motivation to sit down and practice.

Often, during practice sessions, I find myself rushing through lessons, videos, courses, etc. just to get them done.  To check them off my list.  But I have come to realize this does not serve me well.  At the end of day I may be able to say that I finished a lesson, but I can’t always say that I truly learned the concepts presented and am ready to move on.  Time and again it occurs to me that the old adage still holds true, “Slow and Steady Wins The Race”

For the past few weeks I have been working through Ed Friedland’s 8 week course on Walking Bass Lines via ScottsBassLessons.com.  Looking back it seems that I have been breezing through Ed’s course thinking that I am grasping the concept but realized tonight, at week 6, that I haven’t been putting in the time and am actually over my head.  Once I discerned this, I decided to go back and start the course over again at week 1.  It became obvious to me that if I want to succeed with this course I need to focus on the foundations before moving on.  There is no rush, I can access the course materials any time I like, just because there is a new lesson every week it does not mean that I need to keep up.  Working at a pace that is more comfortable for me ensures that I am truly learning.

Bass_guitar_(477085398)About the same time I started the Walking Bass Lines course I also moved on to Lesson 15 of Teach Me Bass Guitar. The lesson introduces the concept of two hand tapping, which for me has been very slow going.  Honestly, at first I pretty much threw up my hands and told myself I would never learn how to two hand tap, and why should I?  I will most likely never use it!  Not wanting to give up, I quickly got over myself and have kept plugging along little by little, and you know what, tonight I can actually do it!  Mind you, I still have a ways to go, but I feel like I am actually making progress.  

Working through these two courses simultaneously I now see that I was rushing through the Walking Bass Lines course, partly because I am presented with a new lesson each week and felt like I need to move on, but mostly because I wasn’t putting in the time needed to get the concepts down.  On the other hand, with Lesson 15 of TMBG I have been taking the Slow an Steady Wins The Race approach, and feel like I am making great progress.  

Tonight I learned that it is important to be patient with myself when learning new concepts. Rushing may get me to the finish line quicker, but if I haven’t learned anything along the way, what’s the point?  I need to remember to slow down, take my time and stay focused on my goals.  It may not happen as quickly as I would like, but I will get there.  

 

TakeLessons.com Ultimate Gear Giveaway

 

TakeLessonsRecLooking to take lessons but not sure where to start?  Want a chance to win some new gear? Then head over to TakeLessons.com and check out their Ultimate Gear Giveaway.  

TakeLessons.com is an online marketplace dedicated to helping connect students with high quality teachers for private lessons. One of their primary lesson categories is music, and through April 30th TakeLessons.com is conducting an Ultimate Gear Giveaway, giving away three Guitar Center gift cards valued at $500, $1000 & $2000.

 

At TakeLessons, we’re passionate about music–and we’re here to help you every step of the way as you work toward your goals. Whether you want to top the charts with the next big hit, lead the marching band, or rock out on stage, you’ll need the right equipment to get started.

 

To enter the Ultimate Gear Giveaway all you need to do is write an essay in answer to the following question:

“How has music changed your life?  Please describe a specific example and share what music means to you.”

Once submitted, essays, which should be no more than 250 words, will be automatically published on TakeLessons.com.  Each essay receives it’s very own website which you can then promote by sharing the link with friends, family and community, who will in turn be the ones voting to get you to the finalist round.  

The more passionate your essay, the better your chance to win one of the prizes.  And remember, the Ultimate Gear Giveaway ends on April 30th, so don’t delay, head on over to TakeLessons.com now and enter for your chance to win!

For official rules, writing tips and more go to:

TakeLessons.com/blog/music-instrument-giveaway.

 

An Evening At Wooten Woods

Wooten Woods 2014For the past two summers I have had the great pleasure of spending an evening at Wooten Woods.  For those who may not know, Wooten Woods is Victor Wooten’s Music Camp, located outside Nashville, in the Tennessee woods.  Victor holds several camps throughout the year ranging from weekend camps, to an intensive 3 week music and nature camp.  Although the camp does have a bit of a bias towards bass, it is open to any instrument and musicians of all skill levels.

Wooten Woods is literally a camp in the Tennessee wilderness.  At night you can hear all of the sounds of nature around you, and I can’t remember the last time I saw so many stars in the sky.  A renovated barn serves as the main hall for dining and performances as well as practice stations located upstairs in the loft.  Other building on site include Dinah’s Woodshed and a Geometric Dome which serve as classrooms, plus a Nature Pavilion, several sleeping cabins and a Bathhouse.  There are also a few tents pitched for the campers who want the true nature experience.  

Each time I went, it was during the 3-week session and I asked the attendees if they were going stir crazy from being stuck out there.  On the contrary, everyone I spoke to said they were having the times of their lives.  They were kept busy learning about music and nature, as well as other various group activities.  It seems to me that Victor has this Bass Camp thing down!

Wooten Woods has such a great atmosphere to it. Friendly, kind, understanding and most certainly inviting.  Going to a music camp can be a bit intimidating at first, but after 15 minutes or so I felt right at home, especially on my second visit. It’s no wonder so many top artists want to be a part of Victor’s camp.  On my last visit Christian McBride was there as a guest instructor, for my first visit if was Keb Mo.  Sax great Jeff Coffin was there on both occasions as was Victor’s brother, Roy “Futureman” Wooten.  It was amazing to spend the evening with each of these top caliber musician’s, all of whom seem to love to share their knowledge and experiences with the group.  

While my experience with Wooten Woods is limited to just two evenings, I can honestly see the appeal of the place.  This past summer, as part of Roy Vogt’s Bass Camp, I was fortunate enough to spend a week studying with Anthony Wellington, whom is a regular instructor at Wooten Woods.  Add these two experiences together and I am seriously considering attending one of Victor’s camps in 2015.  

 

 

The Art of Self Distraction

railroad-tracks-1070609-mI have come to realize that I am a master at the art of self distraction.  Over time I have become very good at derailing myself from accomplishing my goals.  It’s become a common scenario, I start something, a new practice routine, a new technique, ear training, etc.  State clear goals and have good intentions, then somewhere down the line, for various reasons, I convince myself to change course.  Case in point, I have recently been feeling that I am in one of those growth periods when it comes to learning music and playing bass.  Theory concepts are really starting to make sense to me, my playing has improved, and my bass is really starting to feel like a part of me, an extension of myself if you will.  Obviously this is great!  All my time in the shed is finally starting to pay off.  So, what do I do?  Ride the wave as far as I can?  No, I convince myself that now is the time to make the switch to 5 string.

Inherently there is nothing wrong with this course of action.  I am finally understanding how the low B string can be useful, and keeping myself challenged is what it’s all about, right? Besides, a few of the songs I play with my band really do lend themselves better to the 5. All good right?  No problem here.  Wrong!  What about the strides I made on my 4 string? Am I really ready to move on to the 5?  Have I truly achieved the goals I set for myself and am ready to move on?  When I take an honest look at it, I have to say no, I haven’t.  I’ve really only taken it so far. Reached a plateau and took another course.  I need to reevaluate, make a course correction and finish what I started before moving on to something new.  Sure, getting comfortable with the 5 string is important and I want to start playing it more, but maybe not just yet.  At least not as a complete redirection, maybe I can add it in slowly to my current regimen, working it in as I work out the 4.

A large part of the learning experience for me is keeping myself on track.  Writing down my goals and following through on them.  This seems so simple, yet for me it is a constant battle.  As that there is still so much that I want to learn, in music as well as other aspects of my life, being a master at the art of self distraction can really be a hindrance.  Guess it’s time to review my goals and get back on track, if I don’t get distracted.  ;-) 

How about you?  What creative things do you come up with that hinder your learning progress? Leave a comment or drop me a note, I’d love to hear that I’m not alone in this.  

 

Lane Baldwin Needs Our Support!

Lane BaldwinHey Folks, one of our bass brethren is in dire need of our help.  My friend, blues bassist extraordinaire, Lane Baldwin has been having some serious medical issues the past several months and is in need of financial support.  He is currently unable to play out which means no income is coming in and his living expenses and medical bills are really starting to add up.  Lane is a great guy who really needs our help right now.  Anything you can do would surely be appreciated.

Lane’s Med Bills and Living Expenses

Bass Ramblings 2013 Final Thoughts

Adam NittiAs 2013 draws to a close I thought I would offer some final thoughts on my year.  Truth be told I have a lot of mixed feelings about this past year.  Things have not been so great for me career-wise.  Don’t get me wrong, I am still gainfully employed at a pretty decent job, it’s just that I feel like I am stuck in a rut with no clear path out.  I have always been one of those upwardly mobile types, yet as it stands I don’t really have anywhere up to go at my current place of employment.  This, as well as a number of contributing factors, have made for a very stressful and unhappy year.  Thankfully I have music and a fantastic family to keep me going.  

In regards to my musical development, however, I would have to say that it has been a stellar year, fueled in no small part by my participation in Roy Vogt’s Fantasy Bass Boot Camp.  I truly feel that the personal instruction given to me by Roy, Adam Nitti, Tim Smith and Anthony Wellington enabled me to reach new levels in my playing.  Adam and Anthony were able to explain Modes and Theory to me in a way that finally took, while Roy helped me get past some of my roadblocks in regards to playing slap.  Tim got me thinking more about the relationship between what I hear and what I play and how to go about getting those two things on the same page.  Unfortunately I can’t say I have progressed much in my studies with Teach Me Bass Guitar this year as I am still working on Lesson 13.  This is in large part due to the fact that I took Tim Smith’s words to heart and restarted the course from Lesson 1 after I returned from Bass Camp.  I am currently re-working my way through Lesson 7 and am truly enjoying revisiting the entire course.  

One of the main aspects of my playing that I focused on this past year was my technique.  I actually spent a lot of time in this area as I had both wrist and shoulder problems.  My shoulder problems have mostly been solved by using a wider, higher quality strap as well as mainly playing my Lakland Skyline 44-01 as it is my lightest bass.  Wrist problems can be a bit trickier.  I was feeling quite a bit of pain in my left wrist, which forced me to focus on my fretting technique.  Strap height also played a part here as well, but once I started focusing on what I was doing with my left hand and how I was holding and fretting my bass things started to improve.  At this point I am no longer experiencing any wrist pain, but my shoulder does tend to bother me from time to time. Exercise, or the lack there of, may be a contributing factor here as well.

Bass Effects2013 was also the year that I started exploring effects again for the first time in years. Bass effects have come a long way in the last few years and I am slowly starting to build a small pedal board.  For years I was a firm believer in running my bass straight into my amp, no effects, but as of late I have started to change my tune.  I still feel they should be used sparingly, but I am really enjoying playing around with the different sounds I can get.  So far I’ve gotten a Chorus, a Octaver, a Looper and a Compressor and hope to pick up a Fuzz or Overdrive pedal soon.  I also picked up a 5 string bass, which I had previously given up as I never knew what to do with the B string.  Again, after attending Bass Camp and gaining a better understanding of music theory and modes, as well as playing in a cover band every week, I began to realize how useful that B string can be. Now I’m not saying that I am playing my 5 all the time, but I am finding in to be a useful tool.  This is actually the 3rd 5 String I have owned, but it is 34” scale, the other two where 35”.  It may sound weird, but this one just seems more comfortable to play to me. I can’t see how 1” can make such a difference, but somehow, to me, it does.

As I say, music-wise, 2013 was a damn good year for me.  I look forward to attending Roy’s camp again in 2014 and to continuing my studies.  I will endeavor to write more on this blog, it seems likes sometimes I just can’t find the time.  I am getting better at managing my time and accomplishing more in less time, but honestly it is a work in progress.  I found that my sleep was suffering and with everything that has been going on at work I was completely miserable.  Many nights I am faced with the choice of either practicing bass or writing and practicing has been winning out almost every time.  I will definitely continue to write updates in regards to my progress with Teach Me Bass Guitar, and hope to write more consistently.  

Here’s hoping that 2014 is a fantastic year!  As always, thank you for reading.  I hope to interact with more of you in the coming year.

Cheers!

Stanton

Stu Hamm FBBC

The Wisdom of Jeff Berlin

 

Jeff_Berlin_Clinic-554Jeff Berlin is currently doing a run of clinics at Guitar Center’s throughout the U.S. and I highly recommend you try to catch him if he hits a city near you.  On September 20th I was fortunate enough to catch him in San Jose, Ca.  Berlin’s clinic was a bit different from others I have attended in that, instead of dazzling us with his chops he educated us with his wisdom.  

Berlin claims that you can triple your playing ability in as little as 4 months, if you study the right things.  What are the right things you ask?  Well, first he pointed out that music, unlike pretty much everything else we learn, is typically not learned factually.  We learn how to jam and groove and play songs but not about the factual elements of music.  We need to learn the notes so that we may play what is in our heads effortlessly.  Of course, being Jeff Berlin, he had to reiterate his loathing for the metronome, and I can now understand his point of view a little better.  Berlin says we all have time and groove and that a metronome just gets in our way.  We need to slow down to learn, not try to play things at a fast tempo.  What we need to do is learn the information of music, which is much broader than just learning theory.  We need to learn the notes on our bass, chord tones, harmony, approach notes, walking bass lines, ear training and ultimately learn the mechanics of jazz.  Even if you are not a jazzer, he feels this is the best way to learn the information of music.  

I felt the information provided to me during this clinic couldn’t have come at a better time.  Still feeling somewhat renewed from my week with Roy at Bass Camp, I feel that this path Berlin suggests is the path I have already begun down.  Everything he said reaffirmed what I learned in Nashville and has motivated me to work even harder at studying the fundamentals of music.  Berlin pointed out that a lot of us are self-taught, we learn songs, play in bands and get to a certain level and then just hang there.  That completely describes me, I hung for 20+ years before I jumped back into the game with Teach Me Bass Guitar.  Berlin suggests that you shouldn’t buy books or DVD’s or other instructional materials unless they are teaching you the facts of music.  Well, I feel, for the most part that TMBG does just that.  I have learned so much about music in the last couple of years and I really owe it all to TMBG.  Going to Bass Camp this year and working directly with Roy, Adam, Tim, Stu and Anthony in person took me to a whole new level and I now feel that I have the tools to go even further.  Jeff Berlin made me realize that I am headed in the right direction, and now have an even better sense of what I need to work on to accomplish my goals.  

 

TMBGAffiliate2

Lane Baldwin to represent Sacramento in International Blues Challenge

LaneBaldwinMedResSeptember 9, 2013 – Los Angeles, CA – Media Entertainment Management Group (MEMG) announced that their premier artist Lane Baldwin won the Sacramento, CA, International Blues Challenge regional solo/duo competition yesterday, performing on bass guitar and vocals. This is the first time a solo bassist has represented the city in the IBC competitions. It may also be the first time a solo bassist has competed in the final rounds of the IBC.

MEMG President Polo Jones is proud of his feature artist’s unique sound and approach. “I’ve never seen a performer like him,” Jones said of his long-time friend. “He’s got a very deep Old School presence but with a distinctive new twist. And he brings an amazing level of passion that’s hard to match. The fact that he does it all on bass just makes it that much more captivating.”

Lane is currently performing in the Sacramento and Bay areas with his trio Deeper Blues. He is also rehearsing a larger band to tour in support of his upcoming second release, The View From Here.

Acting as producer (as well as engineer) for the new CD, Jones brought in an array of the Bay Area’s top talent, including drummers Bryant Mills (John Lee Hooker, Sly Stone) and Abe Laboriel, Jr. (Paul McCartney), keyboardists Nate Ginsberg (Herbie Hancock, Larry Graham) and Danny B (Sista Monica Parker), guitarists Terry Hiatt (Laura Price and Artist), Dave Adams ( Prairie Prince, Ronnie Montrose, Steve Miller), vocalist Tammy Brown (Stanley Jordan, Spyro Gyra) Saxophonists Noel Catura (Joe Luis Walker, Chris Cain) and  Lisa Simpson, to name a few.

Lane’s set for the IBC competition included four of his own songs and Lane’s imaginative arrangement of an old favorite. “I wanted to offer a broad range of styles to demonstrate what the Blues can be,” Baldwin said. “But I wanted to focus on the stories more than anything, that old way of releasing your pain.”

The secret behind Baldwin’s solo sound is his extended range bass guitar. “It’s pretty unusual in the Blues, Rock and Americana,” said Baldwin, “but for 17 years, my main instrument has been my Spector 6-string bass guitar. It’s an extremely important part of what I do. In fact, it’s a requirement.”

Two time contender and judge for the contest, Sean McGroarty was very impressed with Lane’s performance. “Lane’s performance was very unique and very powerful, which is why the judges all voted to send him to Memphis to compete against musicians from around the world. I have no doubt Lane will be a serious contender.”

From January 21st through 25th, 2014, Baldwin will compete in the final rounds of the IBC competition, comprised of two quarterfinal nights, a semifinal, and the final round, which will take place in the historic Orpheum Theater.

As for his chances of winning, Baldwin says he’s just thrilled to take part in the event. “ This is the biggest event of its kind,” he said, “and it attracts some of the best players in the world. I just want to represent Sacramento to the best of my ability. I’m going to bring the deepest Blues I have, and we’ll see if they’re deep enough.”

Lane Baldwin is an internationally acclaimed singer, bassist, songwriter and author. His 2008 release, Dig the Hole,  has been hailed as the “best Blues in decades.” Iconic Blues bassist Johnny B. Gayden (Albert Collins) calls Lane one of the best of his generation. For more information, visit his web site: LaneBaldwin.com

MEMG is an umbrella artist development firm that uses an “all under one roof” approach to bring organic

artists to the forefront of today’s entertainment industry. In addition to development and management services, MEMG operates world-class audio, film and TV recording facilities, and 

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