Stories with Basses

I love stories. If you love stories, share one here! The only catch: it has to have a bass in it.

I’d like to share one of my proudest and - simultaneously - most humbling moments ever.

I had the good fortune to be on Jam Cruise 15 in 2017. The band I tour with - The Brothers Comatose - had, somehow, been booked for the cruise. (I was shocked because we - as a rule - do not jam.) Jam Cruise is a cruise ship loaded chock-full of jam bands, and fans of jam bands. It cruises around making music constantly for about 5 days. Hard to tell time on Jam Cruise.

The Meters were the headlining band in 2017 and I was on a mission. I wanted to see George Porter Jr. play Cissy Strut - one of the most iconic bass lines of ALL TIME - live. I wanted to watch it happen; see what finger went where and when and bring the knowledge of the music back to the people. I was - at the time - having a dispute with a student of mine over the last couple notes of the main riff. I thought it might be an A down there… my student claimed Bb.

Now - all of you are, clearly, experienced bass-learners-on-the-internet. You would have been able to solve this problem with a few clever search engine requests, or with a line to Josh in this Forum.
No, I decided I’d just see it in the flesh. Right?

Well, he didn’t play it at his duo set with fellow Meter’s / Dumpstaphunk bassist, Tony Hall. And the two headlining sets of The Meters conflicted with the sets I was supposed to play with The Brothers Comatose. I kept running out onto the main deck during our soundcheck one night praying, hoping, pleading to hear and see Cissy Strut. No luck.

The last morning of Jam Cruise dawned, and bleary, jammed-out people began to head for shore.

I had failed, I thought. My mission was a failure. Here I was, on the same boat as one of my bass heroes - with a question to ask! A score to settle with my student back home! And I had failed.

I went to the cafeteria and got my last free buffet of boat food. I ate. Did I weep into my cereal? I can’t recall.

When I was done I headed for the elevators. And there - there, fine people of BassBuzz - was George Porter Jr. and his wife. Suitcases in hand, ready to head home. Ready to escape this weird Waterworld, Jam-Music, floating mega-party.
I hesitated…
Would I be the guy that stops George Porter Jr. and his wife as they try and get to the elevator to ask him the question that he has - no doubt - been asked about 1 bazillion times before?

Yes. Yes I would.

Excuse me, Mr. Porter. Can I ask you a question?
He was polite, and did not tell me to go away. So I asked. Was it an A, or a Bb at the end of the Cissy Strut phrase? And I sang it to him.
He looked at me with a mixture of professional patience, disappointment and weary sorrow. “It’s a Bb!” - He said it the way you’d say “It’s a cow” if you were standing next to a cow, and some bass player came up to you and asked, “Is that a cow, or a giraffe?” Then, to further my joy and shame, he corrected my singing by singing back the correct bass line rhythm.
Then the elevator came.
I said thanks.
He got in the elevator.

Being corrected and schooled by anybody can be embarrassing or challenging or crushing… all of those things. But EVERY TIME you will walk away with more knowledge and wisdom than when you started.
And - you get much better stories.


Haha, I love talking about this tune! Do you mean the A part (the first riff in the song)? If so I’m confused by what George said to you at the end of the story. You can watch him play it here at like the 1:50 mark -

It’s most definitely C Bb G Eb C, G A C A C, and then the end bit (which here he adds an F# leading tone, which I don’t think is on the record, he usually plays a C there).

Does that jive with what he said, am I misunderstanding?

Also kudos for having the courage to bother George Porter Jr. with a Cissy Strut question. :stuck_out_tongue:



He most DEFINITELY corrected me TO the following: (I’d make a quick video, but I’m in the airport right now. Dammit.)
C Bb G Eb C, [NO G A] Bb C , Bb C

He specifically said “And it’s not Buh-duh-duh - it’s just duh-duh” as he corrected me from the A to the Bb.

I’m not lying.
I’m not making this up.

He may have been messing with me because I hassled him at the elevators. It may have been because Jam Cruise does strange things to a person.
Who knows!!
This song definitely has a bizarre X-Files nature to the ‘truth’ of its bassline. I love it.

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Haha, that’s crazy! That is so different than what he plays in the video above, and clearly on the record. I mean, I could take it chunk by chunk with some EQ and the spectrum analyzer in Transcribe and confirm, but the record and the video totally match up.

Is it possible he had a doppleganger/clone on the Jam Cruise so he could stay at home and cackle maniacally?

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I think you have to.
If you don’t, I will forever play it the way he TOLD ME TO.
Do it for me, Josh. Free me from his curse!!


That was a fascinating video. I downloaded your tabs for Cissy Strut. I’m going to mess around with it. Since I’m learning the drums, I’ve listened to Steve Gadd do the song, in an early film when he was in the Army Field Band. Also very interesting. I love this stuff!


Good on you for asking. He can’t kill you and he can’t eat you. He could have been messing with you though. I can totally see that.


Just 2 days ago I finished the 31" scale Bass by replacing the 13th fret due to buzzing, it wasn’t seated properly, and replaced the strings with a lighter set. Told my son I’m not starting anything else the shed was his. He’s been waiting to do a couple of things in there.
So contentedly I sat back and looked in the guitar bits bag. Set of tuning pegs, piece of bone for a nut blank, volume switch with tone and amp socket and a nice set of strings I just removed from the 31". Then it happened. My last 2 active brain cells decided to become friends and start planing against me. Next thing I know I’ve made plans for a 26" scale and ordered a bridge and pickups. I still need to choose the wood to make it from. I’m thinking dark wood for guitar body with light for the fingerboard. I’ve got to delay getting the wood at least till after he has started his project.
Most of the time it’s like my 2 active cells aren’t talking because I never seem to know whats going on around here.
Laugh at yourself, laugh at life, it’s better than crying. :slight_smile:


I have at least 3 active brain cells but they sure don’t know how to build a bass!

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@gmunatsi reminded me (thanks!) that I had a story to tell on the not-always-obvious dangers of going from 4 string to 5 string.

Here goes:
The Cautionary Tale of This One Bass Player I Saw One Time

I was at a concert because my lady love was singing in a gospel choir, and they were part of a 3 -all-gospel-band bill.

Since she was in the choir, I knew a few folks from the choir and band. I’d seen them before. They were great. Full of fire and energy and grooves. Fun times had by all.

They were going to be the last band of the night and their bassist had just gotten a brand new, beautiful 5 string. (I think it was an Ibanez, but it’s not important. Just imagine the most beautiful, tantalizing 5-string you can.) He was chatting with the bassist for the 2nd band about it. You could see this other bass player’s eyes goggling - you could see the drool from the corner of his mouth as he looked at this bass. He wanted it.

I had seen the 2nd band in soundcheck. They were super cool - tons of style and sophistication - some choreographed turns and snaps - a very nice Gospel-meets-4-Tops kind of vibe. And, in soundcheck, their bassist played a 4 string Fender. Classic, and wonderful.

Come concert time, when band number 2 takes the stage, lo and behold, he cruises out there with the new 5 string. The 5 string of band number 3’s bass player.

“Wha?” I say to myself. A bold move, says I. But, I give him the full benefit of the doubt. He’s a pro, and this is a legit concert, after all.

The band begins their set.

Throughout the 1st song, the 4 dudes in classy suits trying to sing keep throwing dagger-eyes at the bass player. I don’t know if the audience is in on just how many clams that bass player is dropping, but it is INTENSE! CLAM after Clam after Clam!! He has no idea what to do about this 5th string! His whole game is off! Everything is one string further away than he thinks!
They make it through song one, and go right into song 2, like a well-oiled machine… with a bass player who doesn’t know where his notes are anymore.

Song number 2 is a repeat of awful, excruciating on-stage-tension-and-death-by-glaring, until… they just stop. The singers just call it off. They stop the band, turn around, and the bass player - with a hung head and sagged shoulders walks off stage.

Oh my lord.

He comes back moments later with is Fender. His 4-string Fender.

The band starts again, and they crush the remainder of the set.

HOLY CATS, but I still think about this story any time anyone asks me what the difference is / what it’s like going from 4 string to 5 string.

Is it hard?
Not really. It just takes a bit of an adjustment period. Like, a longer adjustment period than 3 minutes before your band starts their set.

That’s the story I was supposed to tell a while ago. DON’T BE THAT GUY!! Don’t just assume that because you’re a badass player you can easily waltz your way onto that extra string, no-practice-necessary.

It’s an easy transition, it’s an easy adjustment, but it takes a bit of getting used to.


Haaaaaaa wow. Amazing. I have totally clammed in that manner from not being prepared to use a 5-string. “I’m just harmonizing up a perfect fourth like Slayer, guys!!!”


Josh -
I finally solved my mystery.

I’m playing an event at my kids’ school, and one of the songs that the band chose was Cissy Strut. The guitar player is playing a very (ahem) custom version of the tune, and it is not worth it to go in and correct the parts.

BUT!! The B section. The B section is the thing.

When I asked George Porter Jr. about the tune, he assumed I was talking about the B part, because it’s the part every player wants to add that extra low note. And it’s definitely a Bb.

You know the extra G I’m talking about.

B section starts: Bum - - buh-dah-dah - dah dah (hit hit) …

The guitar player wants to play (and does, every time):
Bum – buh-dah-dah-DAH - dah dah (hit hit)

It’s that extra G that George was warning me about. Oh, it all makes sense now. I’d never been in a group where it happened before. It is heinous.

I know this thread is a year old, but the myster for me was started in 2017, so this is a 3 year sigh of relief.

And, of course, it is definitely an A in the A section, as we had all previously guessed, heard, and seen from George himself.

Case Closed.

Guitar players - learn your damn parts.


EVIL GUITAR PLAYERS: “And we woulda gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling bass players!” :dog::sandwich::sandwich::sandwich::sandwich::sandwich::sandwich::sandwich:


hahaha… Being a former (and still) guitar player, I can totally relate to this statement!! Even now when me and my old guitar playing Navy buddy decide on which song we’re gonna work on next (most all the covers I make), he waits for me to finish my bass lines before he goes to learning his guitar parts… What I found out he’s doing is watching where I’m going on my bass and then playing over me…!!.. Damn!! Instead of him learning his own lines, he’s learning mine…