Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2008 9:09 am
Main Role: Performer
I'm with the band
So, kind of a funny story...
About 5 years ago, having gotten back into singing the year before, but without any outlet after moving, I asked my wife for a guitar for Christmas. What the heck, I thought, I'd enjoy learning an instrument (besides my incredibly meagre piano "skills") to toodle around on. So, we arranged to buy a cheap one online and I signed up for a January class through the park district. But then I got involved in a local theatre show -- my first in nearly 20 years. Then another, and another, and I had to cancel the class, and another and another and I never did take that class, but I did show after show, through a divorce and a new marriage. My new wife and I do all kinds of shows together and occasionally get called on to provide music for one thing or another, and as my guitar skills never progressed past about 5 chords I can slowly make, and my wife's a reasonably good player, I ... never really worked at it. A few months ago, a couple friends asked us to play extra guitars (and vocals) for a couple songs they'd been asked to do. And while, as the THIRD guitar, I could more or less keep up with the simplified chord progression provided to me, and had fun, I recognized that my embryonic guitar "skill" was essentially useless to me. I should find something else to do. In some cases, I'd gotten hold of a small percussion kit and provided that, but that's a bit unwieldy, what I wanted was an instument that:
worked well in a duo with my wife's acoustic guitar;
was relatively easy to pick up and get to a semi-competent place;
was mobile; and if possible
made use of my reasonably good music theory skills; and it would be nice if I
could make some use of my existing knowledge of the guitar.
piece of cake, right? I decided on the acoustic bass guitar. Found one relatively cheap online, got a cheap small amp to go with its optional mic pickup, and ... yeah, that worked. Played with our couple friends, at a couple other times we got caled on to provide music, and ... yeah. Not a virtuoso, but given a lyric/chord chart and some familiarity with a song, I could patch together a simple bass line. Whee. We went out to an open mic night run by the husband of a lady I did a show with (she was Gertrude to my Horton) a few years back, and had a good old time, jamming with the others. Then, a few days later, the fellow who was General vonSchmitz in that very production and is currently the MD for a production of Godspell that my Gertrude got cast in, was informed on FB by his drumer that the bass played they'd wanted was unavailable for the show. Gertrude sees this and pipes up "[Rorgg] plays bass, did you know that? Just saying."
So he contacts me. And... wow. Sure, why not? I could use the experience, I know a bunch of people in the cast and crew, and while Godspell's not my favorite show, the pit (well, okay, onstage in this case) band's commitment is far less, and wouldn't interfere with the next acting auditions I was planning. Sure. I informed the MD that my instrument was an acoustic, he told me I should probably borrow an electric bass for this. I'd been considering pit bands for a bit, and had decided that for those, I should probably get an electric, as the AEB is prone to feedback when stuff gets loud. Went to the readthrough and picked up my score and... huh. There were notes there below what my low string could do. Well, then. I'll just have to get me a 5-stringer to get those low ones. Found a reasonably priced model with fairly good reviews and put in my order, and a day later, MD vonSchmitz shoots me a line: the prior production of Rocky Horror was opening in two weeks, and they needed a bassist for the opening weekend. Was I available and/or interested?
Ummm... hey, why not? So, went to the 3 tech-week rehearsals, and ... yeah, that music was harder. Frankly, I played about 1 in 4 notes as written, but I kept the bass line going and inserted the essential bits successfully, I think. So, after being on the instrument for a whole 3 months, I had my first paid gig last weekend, with another upcoming. And I also learned it's far easier to go through tech with a cold in the pit (well, on a balcony in the castle) than on-stage.
On deck: Brian, Avenue Q