| Jeff Schmidt, Bassist
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November 28, 2006

Solo Bass Night II - WTF?

Solo Bass Night

I shouldn't be surprised that for many people - "Solo Bass" still means the spot in the show where you take a whiz or get another drink at the bar.

Even at the recent Bass Extremes Solo Bass Workshop Weekend - the students seemed to ignore the "solo bass" part of the title of the weekend when they signed up. Most simply wanted to know how to play bass better, or solo better or hang with Victor. When Vic & Steve started talking about Solo Bass - the class was clearly not at that level.

So the idea of Solo Bass Night to the casual observer - and even bass players themselves probably sounds - uhhh lett's say - boring.

After all - if you thought the 5 minute Bass Solo at the show you saw last weekend went on for about 3 minutes too long - why in the world would you want to listen to 4 bass players do it for 30 minutes each!

But Solo Bass Night is different. It's not about bassists "soloing". It's about using the electric bass in the same way you would any other instrument that's been accepted as a solo instrument - guitar- piano, cello, reeds and countless others.

Each of us is exploring the instrument in a solo context in totally different ways - but we're all doing one thing alike - we're all playing pieces - compositions. It's music. Not a solo. And - it just so happens we're all playing it on the bass.

We're all playing some form of modified basses. All of them are extended range instruments - meaning they extend beyond the range of a normal bass guitar - both much lower and much higher.

Edo Castro plays 7+ string fretted & fretless basses - uses a looper to create some wonderful ECM styled jazz - and he's an impressive improviser.

Dave Grossman will perform a 7-string bass arrangement of Suite No. 5 in C minor for Solo Cello and the Chaconne from Partita No. 2 in D minor for Solo Violin by J.S. Bach. Very intricate music!

Jean Baudin will play his signature 11 string basses with creative use of digital delays to create amazing video-game-esque soundscapes.

And Me - I use lots of altered tunings on 5 & 6 string fretted & fretless basses. It's hard for me to describe my own music but more than a few people have said it reminds them of Michael Hedges.

The point is - this isn't a night of never-ending bass wankery.

These guys are all incredibly musical with their own thing to say. As an addedd bonus - I don't think you'll hear anyone SLAP all night.

How can you have 4 "bassists" play for 2 hours and not hear any slapping?

Please buy a ticket or 2 and find out. ,-)

Dec 7th - Larkspur Theater Cafe 8-10:30pm $15.00

cross posted on myspace here


When I peel away all the layers of intention behind what I think I'm doing with composition - or performance - it all really boils down to liberation. That's what music is for me. Being able to funnel whatever emotion or idea is occuring thru the bass and make it sound alive - in that moment. That's liberation.

I'm sure I'll have more to say about this later - but it's something I've been spending a great deal of time thinking about and experimenting with - both musically and conceptually.

November 21, 2006

Day Job kudos

Part of my day job @ KFOG is producing the live recordings of artists that come into the radio station's studios. Every year we assemble about 15 or so of the tracks from the previous year - and release it on CD (limited run) All proceeds benefit San Francisco Bay Area Food Banks.

To date the effort has raised over 3 million dollars to help fight hunger here in the Bay Area. It's not the only effort our radio station makes to support the local community - but it's the biggest in terms of raw dollars.

This year is Volume 13. The 10th one I've been involved with (holy shit!)

The effort got some TV news coverage which you can see below. About :40 into the piece is a shot of me in the control room. That's where I spend my days.

It's a particularly good CD this year (if I do say so myself) You can get a copy at

No marketing hype - but they do sell out because it's a limited run. We have to promise the artists a limited run because they donate the tracks - no money for the artists - no money for the station - it all goes to food banks.

November 18, 2006

de Mania Trio Live

Caught another amazing show last night - de Man ia trio - guitarist Alex de Grassi, Michael Manring, & percussionist Chris Garcia.

I've seen this trio play here in the bay area several times in the past few years - and they never fail to amaze me.

The first time I saw them I was blown away and remember thinking they needed to record.

They finally have. I don't know when the CD is coming out or where to get it (it was on sale at the gig) - but it's a really stellar recording of this amazing band.

Both at the show and on the deMania CD - Michael's playing is so amazingly sensitive, expressive and spot on at every turn. It's hard to imagine Michael improving at this point (how good can 1 guy get) - but shit man - I don't think there's anything else from Michael in my music collection that sings as nicely as this latest release.

I also love the recording - capturing all the nuances of Alex's guitar work and Chris's seriously inventive percussion. And the compositions are excellent too.

A must have for music fans. Bonus if you're a basshead.

November 10, 2006


17 Rock solid music biz "instructions" from Bob Lefsetz

Excerpts -

1. Endorsements

They put money in your pocket, but they shorten your career. Anybody who tells you otherwise is just taking a percentage.

2. Singles

Either write them or don’t sign to the major label.

3. Time To Make It

If you’re not a ten year overnight success, then you’re probably not any good.

4. Let Your Music Do The Talking

PR people are under as much pressure as radio promotion people these days. They’ll take a story from almost anyone, and they’ll say you’re god-given. The only problem is, you’re not.

5. The Long Tail

So everything sells. Big fucking deal. It’s kind of like blogs. Anybody can have one, but only a SLIVER of them get any page views.

6. Sound

If you want a brief career, fall into a genre. You’re just another in a long line.

7. Managers

Are probably gonna be around longer than you are. You’re just a pawn in their game.

8. Attorneys

Fucked in the new system. Fewer record deals for fewer dollars.

9. The Road

If you don’t cut singles, you must play live, and be very good at it. This is DEFINITIVE!

10. Recording

In order for you to break outside the singles system, potential fans must be able to hear your track once, and become enraptured.

11. Video

The golden age of video was about inventiveness. If you’re not doing something edgy, it better be performance only, LIVE performance.

12. P2P

You know the Chili Peppers song, GIVE IT AWAY!

13. Labels

An indie can’t break your single. If you’re a singles artist, don’t sign with an indie.

14. Money

The less you take, the less you owe.

15. Distribution

HK. ATO. Those fuckers can get paid. But the other dude, who says he’s got an indie, and can get your record out there, he’s just trying to build a business on your back.

16. When To Sign

The English bands have this down. They generate heat, and THEN cash in. On terms favorable to THEM!

17. Be Good

Sure, the Ramones capitalized on minimalism. But that was a different era.

November 04, 2006

Lloyd, Hussain, Harland

Saw an amazing show last night at the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts. The legendary Charles Lloyd, Zakir Hussain and Erik Harland.

I really like the freedom the absence of harmonic instruments gives Lloyd in this configuration.

Plus - the rhythmic combination between Harland and Hussain is so huge - it would almost be a shame to cover it up with chords.

If you won't have a chance to see this show - the live CD "Sangam" captures it's essence wonderfully.