Steven Harrison brings us one of the more unique stories of this series. A long-time bassist, Steven doesn’t actually own a bass today (thanks to a series of life events). But he’s getting back into it. And that makes for one exciting story to us.
Steven is No Treble’s reader in the spotlight for the week of April 6th, 2015.
Poised. Knowing I have another great band still in me. Ready to begin again.
Does 48 mean pushing 50?
What does a middle-aged bassist / bandleader do when he hasn’t played in a band for over three years, all of which were 600 miles away?
Not a typical story?
I am re-building my life after raising kids and a divorce of 22 yrs of marriage, started my career / day job completely over in late 2011 (11/11/11 to be exact – on purpose… odometer turning). I ditched it all and moved from Sacramento, California to Portland, Oregon with one carload of belongings, most of which was music gear I had to sell on Craigslist to survive when my fledgling business failed after only three weeks, thanks to one of the main backers backed out.
Now after three years of re-defining myself and landing another day job, I am poised to begin again. Now… I better get a bass.
I pay the bills for a multi-million dollar international Heavy-Lift Helicopter operation.
Yes, a desk job. Desk jobs are great if you are a musician: lots of time to daydream, work on songs, and internet access (albeit monitored I’m sure, so save the real stuff for when you get home). Plus you have the ability to whip up a great flyer for your next show. Accounts Payable… I pay bills.
32 years, with a few off years raising kids in the 90’s.
Bands & Gigs:
Nope. Hard to gig when you haven’t formed your next band yet. (read: poised)
Circa 2006-08, I was in an instrumental progressive rock band, Mapping Dark Matter in Sacramento.
Circa 2009-11, was a part of the improv and jazz scene in the greater Sacramento area, including bands such as Nice Rug and 14 Ft. Clearance.
Great people, great jams, great fans and a totally unheralded scene that occasionally dipped its toes into East Bay Area, California.
I also dabbled in Sound Art / Noise – a fun excursion from reality and a network of “hobbyists” that is unparalleled.
I have no gear.
This is the tale of a bassist who sold everything to survive. I had to live out of my office for three months (2011/2012), keeping my beer and orange juice in the trunk of my car (cold Portland winter was okay).
I owned 3 basses (a 4 and two 5’s), three synthesizers, a combo amp, a head, a cabinet, and two boards worth of effects. I sold everything. I now have an acoustic guitar (yes, skinny strings) just to keep the spark going. (Note: I never learned to play the “guitar”, so this has been a good learning experience). (Hey what does “one per line mean”? did I break the rules?)
Why I play the bass:
My first instrument was viola, in the 3rd grade. I wanted to play cello, but had to walk a mile to school, so I didn’t want the hassle. I did not want to play the violin either, viola it was. Its own clef! Pretty cool.
I got 2nd seat in the Reading (Pennsylvania) Philharmonic Orchestra in 6th grade, but eventually rock and roll took precedence. I played a little piano, and even an Arp Axxe synth, but in my junior year of high school, a buddy had an extra bass and wanted to form a band. Geezer Butler? Yes indeed! Where do we rock? How loud can we get?
My bass superpower/claim to fame:
A good bandleader needs to be able to mingle, network, be friendly and know how to get gigs and leave a good lasting impression. My best ability shone one day when I drove to Fairfield (geez, I think – it was like the late 90’s or early 2000’s) to see Marcus Miller in concert.
I had never been to the venue before, so I got there early. I had on jeans and a suit jacket and thought I was pretty sharp. I parked and entered in what I guess was backstage and the employee of the venue thought I was with the band and said, “tell the band that the food is ready.” Hmmph, this is cool. I sauntered backstage and Marcus’s band was doing soundcheck. I stood on stage, by the backstage mixing board. They thought I was with the venue and the venue thought I was with the band. Ha! I rocked this for like an hour, totally fun playing both sides, then bailed and got in line to get my seat.
From Geezer Butler to Geddy Lee to Sting to Marcus Miller to Les Claypool to Chris Wood to Flea (later years)… and all still influences.
More on the web:
I experimented in a Sound Art solo project (that has nothing to do with bass) with a group of Northern Californians who loved to experiment with effects and sound: