Category: Steve Clark On Bass

John Dymond Interview (Part 1)

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John Dymond has collaborated with a who’s who of Canadian music.  If you’ve listened to artists like Bruce Cockburn, k.d. lang, Colin Linden and Blackie and the Rodeo Kings you’ve heard John.

I’m always interested in what makes bass players tick.  My questions come from my own curiosity as well as a bit of my own insecurities.   I asked John if he would be interested in participating in an interview.  Thankfully he agreed.   You’ll find some great insights and advice for life as a bass player who splits his time between Toronto and Nashville and points in-between while on the road.   John has been very generous with his time in answering my questions.  So much so that I’ll split the interview into three parts.

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Some Sound Advice from Leland Sklar

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I came across an article on written by Joe Bosso.  I’ve reposted it with permission from Joe Bosso.   I expect for many it’s not new information but it never hurts to hear from an icon like Leland Sklar.  What kind of person is Leland?  Years ago when I first had a website he came across it and took time to post in the comments section.  He posts regularly on Facebook.  He really seems like a genuinely decent human being.  That will be one of many reasons that he gets all the gigs.

Intro – Lee Sklar’s Top 5 Tips for Bassists

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Categories: Steve Clark On Bass


John Clayton’s practice routine

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10379560_548272301951341_2682430276530011947_oI came across this post via the Berklee Bass Department page on Facebook.   John Clayton posted his practice routine.  He says, “Tuesday Tip of the Day: It works best for me if I have a Practice Routine. They change, depending on my schedule, the current projects, etc. I stay open to editing the list—maybe working on something lead me to another thing, maybe I have extra time and can add to the list, or I may have listed more things than I can handle. Anyway, this is what I’ll be doing for the next couple of weeks…”

There are a number of comments following his post.  Todd Coolman sums it up nicely with his comment.  “Note to students: The “pros” are not busy practicing the, “secret stuff.” Instead, it’s all about the grits and gravy. Forever. Just do the work! There are no short cuts…ever. John Clayton…..are you copying off my routine sheet”

I should go practice!

Categories: Steve Clark On Bass

Road Trip to Northern Ontario

From time to time I play bass with ElizaBeth Hill.  She’s a First Nations artist originally from Six Nations in Brantford.  She’s travelled extensively with her music to places like Japan and Easter Island as well as time writing in Nashville.  I met her relatively early in my return to music.  Through ElizaBeth I’ve been able to experience First Nations culture through performances at different reserves, Pow Wows and even the National Conference last summer. Read More

Categories: Steve Clark On Bass

Anthony Vitti’s Forgotten Grooveyard.

Anthony Vitti is a graduate of the Berklee School of Music and now part of the faculty at Berklee.  He’s put together a series of videos he calls The Forgotten Grooveyard.  He’ll bring in a guest bassist who could be another faculty member or a student and they will play a groove together and improvise over the bass line.

There is so much to learn from each video.  Everyone’s sense of time and note placement while playing with a click is a workshop all on its own.  This is what bass players do. You can get a close up look at different players approaches to the bass line and their technique.   Occasionally we get to step into the spotlight and take a solo and there are lots of examples to listen to in the Forgotten Grooveyard.  

I’ll be spending some more time with these videos lifting the bass lines and solo ideas.  Hopefully I’ll write some out and post on the blog.  In the meantime go to Anthony’s YouTube page and watch and listen to some great bass playing.

Here’s a taste with Anthony playing with John Patitucci.  John lays down a tasty, funky groove.

Pattitucci and Sklar in conversation.

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If you are like me you are a fan of music and the musicians who make it happen.  I’m also a fan of shows that go behind the recording of a record where the engineer or  the producer take apart the different track and show you how the record was put together.

I came across this conversation between two icons of the bass. John Patitucci is one of the giants of both electric and double bass in the jazz world.  Leland Sklar is one of the most recorded session bassists in the world today.  Their discographies represent a who’s who of popular music and jazz.    It turns out that they are both really humble guys when they talk about themselves or each other.  If find most people who are established in the industry are all like these two.  There’s no room for jerks.  Lee Sklar even wished me happy birthday on my Facebook wall.

If you’ve got some time to listen there is definitely some good advice about the role of the bass player in music.

Categories: Steve Clark On Bass

Berklee says hello!

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From time to time the internet surprises me.   About 6 months ago I joined the Berklee Bass Department group on Facebook.  I didn’t go to that school but there were interesting posts by students as well as the faculty.  In particular Steve Bailey, using the name Berklee BassChair, was posting on a regular basis.   Steve runs the program these days and the faculty includes folks like Anthony Vitti,  Victor Bailey, John Pattituci and Lincoln Goines.  I’m also learning about other faculty members and grads.  Even Victor Wooten and Leland Sklar pop in from time to time to post. Read More

Michael League – Snarky Puppy

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A great bass line is the sum of all the parts that make a great bass player.

There is Technique.   If you haven’t worked on your right and left hand and the coordination between them you won’t be able to get that bass line out of your hands and onto your bass.  Your technique will let you put that note right where you want to.

There is Tone.  Yes, it’s partly the bass and the amp but mostly it’s your hands.  See technique.

There are the notes that you choose to play.  The notes are what you hear in your head.  The notes come from your knowledge of theory and harmony.  The notes come from every bass line you’ve ever listened to.

There is Time. You have to put the notes in just the right place.  Right on the 1? A push?  Ghost notes?  On an 1/8, 1/16  or another division of time.  Exactly where  you meant to play it.  Not ahead or behind but right in that intangible place that bass players call the pocket.   Can you hide the click and make it swing? Read More