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Monday, October 10, 2011  

The Wedding Bassist

Many years ago, when I was still feeling trapped in the call center and my future professional prospects seemed bleak, Trash got a recruitment offer from some former clients who had always been impressed with her genius. They were starting a new company, and offered her a fat pay raise to join them. The catch was that the job would be in Jackson, Tennessee.

But I could see that working. Trash was a recent recipient of a Master's degree that she had worked hard for, and I wanted to support her. And as for myself, maybe this could be my chance to try and make it as a session musician.

Don't laugh, now. It seems a little silly today, but at time my bass-playing powers were at their peak. BuenaOnda's boyfriend at the time, a way better bassist than me, told me he thought I had what it took. And maybe relocating to a city halfway between Memphis and Nashville would be just what I needed to make it happen. Well, that and a willingness to play a lot of country music. With the money the recruiters were offering her, she'd be able to support me for a good while, and if I followed her to Tennessee, she'd feel obligated to.

Never happened, though. Trash decided to stay where she was, and had a long, mostly happy career at that company that lasted until two years ago, when she switched to her even happier current job. And I started a blog and became a professional writer instead. As for Jackson, I've still never been, but it's apparently been plagued by floods and tornadoes that we haven't had too much call to worry about here in Minneapolis. I won't say I never looked back, because see above, but it hasn't been often.

Last summer, when I signed my rusty ass up for a month of Rock Camp for Dads, it was on more of a lark than anything else. Best-case scenario, I thought, maybe someone at the gig would hear me and want me to join their band. I knew this was totally unlikely, of course. It's what happened anyway. We started practicing without a singer in the fall, found one in December, and started playing gigs in January. We've played more than a half-dozen since then, which I kind of can't believe (although those of you who have been putting up with me plugging those gigs on Twitter probably can).

The upshot is that my old powers have been coming back, almost to the level they once were at. And although I still don't have any intention of moving to Tennessee any time soon, I'm starting to remember why I considered it.

Last month, I got an e-mail from the Rock Camp for Dads maestro, saying a friend of his was looking for a bassist to sub in for a wedding gig. I've never done anything like that -- by which I mean subbing, not playing a wedding, because this would be my third wedding gig -- so I sent an e-mail offering my services. To my surprise, they accepted.

This was a pretty tight schedule, mind you. The wedding was on a Saturday. We had time for one practice together the Thursday before, which was also the first time I met all of them. Before that practice, I had a week to learn about three dozen songs (a quarter of which I had, fortunately, played before). I drove out to the western exurbs, plugged in my bass, and played about two dozen of those songs with them before we called it a night. We didn't get through the whole setlist, but we'd get to the rest of those songs in a couple of nights. In front of the audience.

At the wedding, there were some sound issues, and a song tossed in that I'd never played in my life, but I'd have to say it was a success overall. I got paid, at least, which has to be a good sign.

It was just a one-time thing. I made plenty of mistakes. It was my second gig of the day, after one with my regular band at a neighborhood festival that afternoon. But it's kind of amazing how much it made me feel like a real musician. The feeling has yet to wear off.

And I didn't even have to move to Tennessee.

posted by M. Giant 8:14 PM 1 comments

1 Comments:

My first gig in the professional music realm was one of those "baptism by fire" things as well. Few rehearsals, tons of music and then some of the worst venue conditions we've played in. But they liked me enough as a sub to become their full-time keyboard player and it's crazy how fulfilled I am doing it. Never thought playing Bad Romance would be what would save me from a life without music, but there you have it!

Linking over from the BlogHer ad! Thanks for sharing!

By Blogger Alise, at October 19, 2011 at 5:42 AM  

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