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Reader Spotlight: Allen Cummins

Allen CumminsMeet bassist Allen Cummins, a musician from California who looks to be having a blast with his music. Allen is our player in the spotlight for the week of July 24, 2012.

Bio:

I have been a weekend warrior bass player since the age of 19, where I played Top 40 Rock for quite a few years. At 48, I find myself busier than ever, playing Top 40 Country/Rock, not just weekends, but weeknights too, with several bands, while still maintaining a regular day job.

I never learned how to read music, let alone theory. My forte has been clean living and an uncanny ability to listen and learn a song and commit it to memory. And not just the bass lines, but the vocals as well, be it lead or harmony. I am incapable of playing “fancy” bass riffs, but yet, I am still very much in demand and have a reputation of being incredibly solid, very much at one with the drummer and getting the job done correctly, accurately, and without ego-driven embellishments.

Location:

Santa Clarita, CA. USA

Day gig:

I am an Audio/Video Technician with the County of Los Angeles. I repair paging systems, intercoms, set up live audio for press conferences, meetings, occasional Concerts in the Park, as well as emerging technologies such as video-conferencing systems.

Years experience:

33 years.

Bands & Gigs:

My main band (the one I book) is called Dawson’s Gang, and we were formed based on a mutual idea that we were tired of playing all the old classic country music that most of the other bands played, and we were hungry to constantly learn new material all the time, to keep it fresh.

And, we, as old rockers, still wanted to kick ass onstage.

Gear:

I am some sort of closet German. I fall in love with everything made in Germany.

I have 2 Warwick Streamer LX5 Broadnecks (20mm bridge spacing) as well as an older MTD Grendel 5 string (Czech Republic)

I play through a TecAmp Puma 500 amp, and a TecAmp L410 cabinet, and for tiny venues, I have a Mesa Boogie Walkabout Scout 1X12 with a downfiring 10˝ passive radiator that just blows my mind everytime I use it, it is a 300 watt cab, I used a 500 watt amp, and it is so loud, and never farts out EVER!!!!

Why I play the bass:

Girls. Van Halen. Girls.

Oh yeah, and the strings on a guitar hurt my finger tips after several minutes (I never knew you had to build calluses).

My bass superpower/claim to fame

Playing simple, playing in the pocket with a drummer, as well as being able to reign in a drummer who is rushing or over-embellishing.

I have had drummers come up to me at the end of a gig and say “your playing made me play better, made me feel what being tight, as a rhythm section, is all about” I call it chopping wood, or just “playing for the song”.

My influences

Craig MacGregor (Foghat) kind of influenced me early on, showing you could add a funk element to your playing, and get things hoppin’.

Also, I am not really capable at all at slap bass, but I saw Tower of Power in Vegas at a NSCA convention, and I saw how you could get that same feel playing finger-style. That was when I learned about playing staccato and using double-stop technique, as well as 16th notes, when a drummer doubles up in time.

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