My son Sam went to Fanshawe College’s Music Industry Art program few years ago. During one of his 3 years he asked me if I would come in and play bass on a track one of his classes was working on. I think I was more nervous on that gig than any before or since. We were both thinking, “I hope Dad doesn’t f**k up!” I remember doing a few takes including one where the headphones fell off in the middle of the take. I’m sure that was going to be the best take.
The song was written by Cat Clyde, one of Sam’s classmates, and I hadn’t thought about the tune until the other day when I was talking to Fred Lewis, a local guitar player in this part of Southwestern Ontario. He talked about a new artist that he really liked for her songwriting and mentioned that I was on the record. Surprise. I think this is the only video on YouTube that I have a connection to that has over 800,000+ views. The song was released in 2015.
I get to play with a few different singer songwriters. There is not a lot I like more than adding bass to song with an artist who has something to say in a song.
However my life goal as a musician is to play improvised music and make a coherent musical statement as a bassist. The Paul Aitken Trio or Aitken|Clark|Peacock is one of those groups where I can experiment and learn about this thing called jazz. This trio along with 5PGB and Mike Wood are some of the most satisfying gigs that I have. I often say that if all the other gigs went away but I could still play with these musicians I would be happy.
Here are a couple of videos from the first Trio show. Comments and criticism are most welcome. Stay tuned for future dates.
2018 was one of my busiest years since I returned to playing in the mid 2000s. In the lead up to 2018 there were some great gigs at venues like the NAC in Ottawa, the River Run Centre in Guelph as well as clubs like Hugh’s Room and the Cameron House. There were shows with symphony orchestras on Vancouver Island, Windsor and Stratford and pit bands for some great theatre bass books including Mamma Mia and Jesus Christ Superstar. There were summer shows at Home County Music and Arts Festival, Goderich Celtic Festival, Sunfest and Ottawa Bluesfest.
2019 was a quieter year with less travel. While there were opportunities to play close to home there were fewer opportunities to play bass with some artists who tour regularly. No doubt the cost of touring with a full band is part of the story. I tried to adopt the mindset that if I was playing a show I was happy but if I was at home on my porch I was happy too.
2020? There are certainly local opportunities to work on playing locally as well as work on my jazz-like noises. There are a couple of theatre bookings already including Fun Home. But now that I have had a chance to be around the house a bit more, what I’d really like to be doing in 2020 is travelling and touring more.
So with that in mind here are some details about your potential travelling (or local) bass player for your 2020 shows.
I play electric and double bass.
I’ve played everything from jazz to blues to country to indie pop/rock to theatre.
I have great time.
I can play for the song whether it needs whole notes or 16ths.
I can read quite well if you have charts.
I can prepare my own charts/cheat notes for gig.
I show up prepared.
I have a US and Canadian passport.
I can put you in touch with artists for references. I’m sure they would say good things.
I want to tour and travel.
Let’s chat. You can reach by email: email@example.com
I try to remind myself of this when I am offered musical work with new people. It happened this month when I was contacted to play bass for the musical Legally Blonde in Sarnia. I said yes even though I don’t consider myself a great reader. When I got the a copy of the bass part and started to look through it I wondered if I had bitten of a bit more than I could chew. I was relieved when I few more experienced theatre bassists chimed in with comments like “busy book”. I’m glad it wasn’t just me. Read More
There have been a couple of odd situations in the last few years that I am now trying to decide how to handle in the future. For example, I was asked to play with an artist at a conference. I learned the tunes, went to a rehearsal and at the last minute was informed that the bass player was available after all. As far as I know there were no concerns about my ability to do the gig. Read More
It’s closing time. Today I have 2 more shows at the Grand Theatre for Joni Mitchell – River. I’m glad I have a few gigs booked in November and December that I have to prepare for otherwise I’d be left with a big hole to fill. There’s nothing like an entire month of work for a musician. Especially when the venue is just down the street.
One of the highlights of my summer was playing the Home County Music & Arts Festival and the Kemptville Music Festival with Lynne Hanson as part of her band The Good Intentions. I’ve played the Home County Festival several times over the years so it was great to be back there again sharing a stage with Lynne and the wonderful guitarist Dan Artuso. Lynne writes some great music with Murder Ballads that are full of confessional lyrics and the tunes are great to play. I get to do a lot of different musical things but I would have to say my favourite musical experience is to work with songwriters who have something to say. There’s a new song we played that brought a tear to my eye on a couple of occasions. Read More
Recently I had the chance to add a double bass part to a mobile game. Big Blue Bubble’s game My Singing Monsters has literally millions of users around the world. My son, Sam Clark, has been working for Big Blue Bubble for almost a year as their in house audio engineer. As the commercial says it really is priceless to work on a session with my son for a game with as high a profile as My Singing Monsters. Read More
January was an interesting month. Compared to my productivity and practice in December it was almost a lost month. I know that’s a bit of an over statement but sometimes it can be hard to overcome my inertia and sit down behind the music stand, plug in and get things done.