The bass scholarship

We now take a break from your regularly scheduled sight-reading chat, to bring you a report from the London Bass Guitar Show.

When I was awarded this scholarship in April, I received a lot more than I ever expected. Getting a brand new Music Man bass was incredible, as was this column, but then to be told that I’d be demonstrating at the London Bass Show, it just blew me away (and made me wee my pants a little).

bass scholarship 1Over the weekend I played six 15-minute demos, which I know some of you came and watched. Thanks for coming up and saying hello. Hanging out at the Ernie Ball stand I met some great bassists and played some wonderful new Music Man items – I have my eye on a Reflex bass. The show itself was fantastic, with so many great new basses and toys to play with. Where else can you meet hundreds of bass players talented enough to make full-time music their career? I got to meet some lovely people including David Ellefson, Dave Swift, Dave Marks (apparently being called Dave gives you a leg-up in bass playing), Nate Watts, Steve Lawson, Sheldon Dingwall, Andy Irvine, Yolanda Charles… I could go on.

The masterclasses were the biggest highlight for me. I saw David Ellefson on Saturday morning – there’s nothing like some metal with your morning coffee to help wake you up. I wouldn’t class myself as a metalhead but I really enjoyed David’s class. He started with some incredible pick playing, spoke with experience and humility about his career, and offered essential tips such as making sure you play the bass-line for the song and not the other way round. I missed a lot of Guy Pratt’s class because I was playing, but the Q&A I saw was hilarious. That man is witty.

I sneaked into the Nate Watts concert. He invited his sister to sing, which made it less like a gig and more like a group sing-along – I could have sat there all night. Nate got the crowd to sing, invited three young guys up on stage to play with him and even took requests. I yelled out ‘Master Blaster’. I adore Nate’s lines and it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see him play. The party didn’t stop after the show closed; I went to see Albert Lee and Hogan’s Heroes. Wayne Lee, Albert’s son, also worked on the Ernie Ball stand. Albert is an icon in the country music scene, a 70-year-old legend who still tours like he’s 30. I want to be that cool when I’m his age. It was such a privilege to be at that gig and meet him afterwards.

The whole weekend was some of the best fun I’ve had in this cold country. I know I’m biased, but the BGM team did an absolutely incredible job, and I can’t wait for next year’s show.

‘Til next time, guys. Life’s waaaaay better at the bottom.

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