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.
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.