This week last year I learned about the 2005 Bass Extremes Solo Bass Competition.
At this time last year I was really drifting musically. I wasn't in a band and I didn't know what I wanted to do with bass.
At that point I had been messing around with looping for several months - but nothing I did felt like it was ready to take out of the house. I didn't have a single whole complete song I could play in front of anyone.
I learned about the Bass Extremes contest by poking around on the web.
I figured it was exactly the kind of thing I needed to focus my energies on. It gave my musical efforts a purpose. I've discovered that if I don't have a purpose for doing something - it probably won't happen. So with really nothing more than the personal challenge of getting an entry together I went for it.
I had never arranged another person's song before (which was one of the entry requirements).
I had never written and performed a complete solo Bass song before.
I had no delusions about the contest. All I wanted was a critique from the judges (Wooten, Bailey, AJ, Lee, Patitucci) and as a bonus I'd have 2 complete solo songs I could play.
I sent in my entry on the last day possible before the deadline - postmarked July 31st. I didn't play much bass at all in August. I was drained and I thought I choked. I awaited the critique telling me the things I already knew were wrong with my entry.
Instead, in Sept, I got the call that I was a finalist. And for the next 30 days busted my hump playing my pieces to get ready for my first public performance since I was in High School ( that's about 19 years in case you're wondering) I was ready. I was confident and I played very well and really let it flow.
Then - after the rush wore off - I was lost again. Much of Oct, Nov & Dec I noodled with song ideas thinking I should put out an offical album. But I didn't reach anywhere near the instensity I had going during Sept.
Then I got a gig to open for Steve Lawson and Michael Manring and had to put 30 minutes of material together. I didn't have 30 minutes of material. That was my first real push to write music on a deadline. I came up with a few ideas which later did develop into good tunes. I learned a lot from getting ready for that gig and used that to really make the next solo gig go much much better.
That gig was the 4 bassist show called Solo Bass Night in May 06.
Today - I have 9 original Solo Bass tunes I can confidently play live . Another 4 are getting to that level. Plus I tend to have a few new ideas for tunes gestating all the time too. I'd like to do a few more arrangements of other people's tunes too.
If I only look at my current challenge to get a CD done - I totally miss the really amazing journey I've been on since last year. And the genuine amount of growth I've experienced since June 05.
I don't think there's another period in my entire life that has rivaled how far I've come on so many levels in just the last 12 months. It's so easy to get caught up in the current challenges that I forget to take a second just to remember where I was not too long ago.
This time last year the idea of playing a solo bass version of Little Sunflower seemed like an impossible dream.
Holy shit. ;-)