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Switching to Bass...


This story isn't quite as interesting as the others but I thought I would throw it in here.  If you have actually read the other stories you'll notice that I didn't start off on the bass.  Plaid Faction started off as a two guitar band with J.C. and I doing the honors and Big Bad Bill on bass.  Somewhere along the way, we needed another bass player.  At this point, I can't remember if we decided Bill needed to go or if Bill left dude to college or something; but for whatever reason, we ended up needing a bass player.

So we started auditioning bass players.  We wanted someone that could hang with the riffs that J.C. and I had written.  Some of them were a bit rhythmically tough to play on guitar much less on bass plus we needed someone who could lay down some funk.  What we found mostly was white guys that wanted to play in a straight ahead rock band or black guys that wanted to play in a straight ahead funk band, but no one that wanted to combine the two. 

I forget how it happened now, but for some reason I got the urge to play bass.  I already knew the songs, but my bass playing sucked and what's worse in my sense of time and rhythm were kind of crappy.  In retrospect, I was an odd choice because between us, J.C. is much more naturally bass minded than I.  While my guitar playing centered around chordal melodies and flowing legatos lines, J.C.'s playing was all about single line rhythmic riff and staccato lines which made him more of a logical choice to play bass.  But the chips fell as they did and the result is history.  J.C.'s bass like guitar parts and my guitar-like bass lines made for some interesting music.  This opposition turned out to be what gave some of Plaid Faction its arguably unique sound.   Anyway, back to the story... this needed to be done because were at a standstill until we could make this happen.  So I grabbed some of my guitar gear and headed up to Eugene's Guitars Plus.

(Side note: Eugene's was kind of the musician's shop.  It was a huge place that was half music store, half pawn shop located on Jefferson Avenue in Oak Cliff, Texas and for those of you who don't know that's the "bad part" of  Dallas.  So going to Eugene's was always a bit of exciting task.  You always tried to park close and not around back in the alley for safety sake.  Despite all that, Eugene was known as a guy who would help out a playing musician if needed.  He would do bad trades and loaners to help guys out and we all appreciated him for this.  Another cool thing about Eugene's is that you would routinely run into good touring musicians in there looking for gear.  I bumped into my hero, Eric Johnson twice in there and actually heard pre-released tracks from his albums there as well.)

So there I am in Eugene's with my guitar gear ready for a trade.  I found a 70's model Fender P-Bass that had some EMG pickups installed along with a beat up Trace Elliot head in a road case and a used Eden 4x10 cab.  All in all not bad gear to start off in the world of bass playing.  So now I have the gear and needed some lessons.  While at the Arlington Guitar Show which was going on around that time, I asked around and everyone was unanimous in the fact this guy in Arlington named Chuck Rainey was the guy to go to.  I had no idea who he was, but I signed up.

(Side note: Little did I know how lucky I was.  Chuck Rainey is literally one of the founding fathers of electric bass.  He was part of the classic Motown years and played with tons of great musicians including Aretha Franklin and Jimi Hendrix.  Of course none of this I knew going in, but learned over time how fortunate I was.  For more info on Chuck Rainey, check out this link: Chuck Rainey - Wikipedia)

After some serious woodshedding listening to players of the day like Flea from RHCP, Muzz Skillings from Living Colour, Stu Hamm and tutelage from the master, Chuck Rainey, my bass style quickly developed.  And Plaid Faction was moving forward once again...