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Why I Had To Learn To "Walk" On The Bass....

....And Why I Only Had 10 Days To Do So!

Here's the skinny:

Back in 1990 I co-founded my first professional band. That band was set up to play in a French Ski Resort and indeed we did so for three ski seasons.  When we came back to the UK we did a mix of gigs ranging from weddings, corporate parties, private functions and rough and tumble bars in and around London.

At the end of 1993 that band broke up.  Two of the guys left to pursue other things.  And Jon and I decided to start a different band doing the same sort of thing.

Our reasoning was that we were getting well paid - around £300 to £350 a gig (20 years plus ago that was a freaking great fee for a young musician!).

There was one problem.........because we were a new band, we didn't have any gigs.

As neither of us had any other income, life was a real struggle - for 6 months Jon lived with his Mother in West Hampstead.  And I lived with an actor in Belsize Park.

The deal I had was that I did all the cooking for this guy who was attending LAMDA - and didn't pay any rent. One day Jon phones me all excited:"I've solved our problem.  We can get a flat. (he hated living with his Mum and I was starting to hate cooking 10 to 12 times a week!)

I say: "Slow down. Did you get some gigs?"'

Cos I'm thinking: how else are we going to afford to pay rent on a flat?

There's what they call a pregnant pause on the phone.


"I got us not one, not two, not three but FOUR residencies at different venues around London playing background music."

Now the money was not great - it was about 30 pounds each plus a 'staff meal.'  But that's a great start.  But I'm not excited.

He used the 'B' word.

As in Background music.

I ask: "When you say background music, you mean jazz right?"

He says yep.

Tells me the first gig is in 10 days...says he'll work out a set list of tunes.

On the one hand I'm excited - cos those residencies will be the start of achieving our goal.  (And indeed for a year they were freaking great.)

But I'm concerned.

Because I don't know the first thing about walking bass at this point from a playing perspective - it's never been a style I've played.

In the next article I'll let you know how I went about learning to walk and how I got through those first jazz and background music gigs...that don't forget were just 10 days away!

Click the blue CONTINUE button below to find out how I got through that first walking bass gig with just 10 days of learning and practice!

Paul Wolfe/www.how-to-play-bass.com