Meet Merl Middletown, a bassist whose motto is “from pocket to rocket.” Merl can be found rocking the bass in Florida and elsewhere, clearly loves the music, and doesn’t care about the crazy gear list either (and we mean that in a good way).
Merl is No Treble’s reader in the spotlight for the week of June 30, 2014.
I grew up just outside of Cincinnati where as an early teen I played bass in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal bands. At 14, I got an early taste of the fast Rock n Roll lifestyle playing originals with thirty-something year olds who taught me how to drink beer and play poker. With my perfect pitch hearing I was quickly learning Slayer and Megadeth songs alongside their originals and earned my keep with the older rockers. At 17, I moved to a tourist town in Florida where for the next 15 years I would struggle with dead end jobs and next to no original music scene. Finally, at around 32 after spending time in Panama City Beach and Orlando, Florida, and Athens, Georgia, I figured I had missed the bus on striking gold with an original band and touring the country, even as a “B” act. I then swallowed my pride and joined a cover band, which are kings in a tourist town. At 37 in 2014, I am well known locally for my head-banging on stage to even the most classy of Classic Rock tunes and still pick up a gig or two with an original band. Having settled down in Walton County, Florida, I still get to entertain thousands for Spring Break and Bike Week at Panama City Beach, it’s just not all at once in an arena with a Prevost sitting out back waiting for me!
Panama City Beach/Florida/USA
I do have a nine to five in a resort community, and like most musicians in a tourist town, I’m a cook.
I got my first bass when I was 12ish, so it’s pushing 3 decades now.
Bands & Gigs:
I gig somewhat regularly up and down the Emerald Coast, mostly in Classic Rock cover bands. I do a lot of fill in jobs, last minute calls, and event jams with other musicians. I am certainly for hire. Visit my website for the latest on what I’m doing.
- I play a $75 Squire Jazz Bass with EMG’s, and I love it.
- Peavey TNT Tour Pro 15″
- Hartke 4-10 Transporter
- Hartke 4-10 4.5XL
- Ampeg B2R
- Carvin 18″ cab
- Korg Rack Tuner
- Furman Power Conditioner
Why I play the bass:
I also played drums for some time and after lugging those things around a while I figured I’d just buy this cheap $75 Squire and stand in the corner.
My bass superpower/claim to fame:
“From pocket to rocket,” is the motto for Merl Middletown. I think my only claim to fame is closing the David Allan Coe show with a Hard Classic Rock band called Rock Creek in 2012. We received a lot of good press from it.
I had brothers who were ten years older than me, so when they left for the military at 18 I had access to all this killer music. Tapes and records, the whole nine yards, to which prior I was not allowed to touch or even see. Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, the good stuff. Then when I was 10 or so came Guns n Roses and I was all about that until I hit my teen years which introduced me to Slayer, Obituary, Pantera, and other Heavy Metal power hitters. Later as an adult I started jamming to more Alternative Rock like Tool, Kyuss, QOTSA, some Rollins Band, and other stuff. If you take all of that stuff and put it together, that’s my style. I’m not real fond of today’s music but I’m turning into a grumpy old man anyway. There is a band called Traverser I dig. I like the direction they are taking their music.