Last night, I travelled down to Eastleigh and played bass for blues-rock covers band 2Blue, allowing them to maintain a semi-residency gig with a local live music venue-cum-pub.
A quick look around this website will reveal that bass guitar isn’t one of my primary professional offers, and so I had put quite a bit of effort and perhaps an unnecessary amount of worry into preparing for this gig. The prep certainly paid off though, as the band were complementary about not just my playing but also my ensemble / variation work
Both the blessing and the curse of material of the nature of most blues songs is that there is no fixed arrangement or parts (ignoring real blues-rock standards and a handful of other songs where the riffs are expected to be reproduced note-for-note). This means even as a dep rhythm section player, having got beyond whether you keep up with the chord changes, you will stand or fall substantially on ability to produce / select riffs and figures, and to then produce variation in line with the rising and falling dynamics around you (which will almost certainly not correspond to those of whatever recording you learned the song off, since the placing of solos, verse repeats etc. won’t either). Equally though, while this might seem to make the musical, rather than technical, demands of playing any instrument rather similar, it doesn’t mean I can use the same bags of tricks as a bassist that I would as top-line melody instrument on violin (not on blues rock anyway; maybe on modern jazz). So I’m certainly going to be somewhat pleased with a regular band saying it’s enjoyable to play with a bassist who comes forward and drops back and varies the intensity of what I do.
This may be subject to the criticism of over-analysing. The short version goes: another evening that proved there is no oxymoron about the phrase ‘party blues’, and I think everyone had a good one.