Meet Erik Davenport, a bassist who started on guitar at first, but says bass is his “voice”. He recalls the very moment that happened, as you’ll see in his story below.
Erik is No Treble’s reader in the spotlight for the week of September 28, 2015.
I was born and raised in L.A. (strange, I know), and I grew up on The Beatles. I loved everything they did. I suppose you could say that Sir Paul was my first bass influence. My sister was taking piano lessons, and I took up the guitar at 14. After two years, I switched to bass, joined a band, and started gigging. I still play guitar, but bass is my voice.
Oh, some thirty-odd years. (Yikes!)
Bands & Gigs:
I play from time-to-time with various groups, but I’m currently seeking a solid project.
- Fender American Vintage ’75RI Jazz Bass
- Fender “Jaco Tribute” (AV ’62RI) Jazz Bass
- Alembic Élan (custom)
- Alembic F-1X pre-amplifier
- Alembic SF-2 Superfilter
- dbx 160XT compressor
- F-Deck Series III HPF-Pre
- QSC PLX-1804 power amplifier
- Korg DTR-1 tuner
- fEARful 12/6/1
- fEARful 15/6/1
Why I play the bass:
I was playing guitar in a high-school band, and we needed a bass player. I convinced one of my great friends to purchase a bass and amp with the promise that he could join the band. Once he did, we would practice at my house, and everyone would leave their equipment behind when they went home.
One night, while listening to Pink Floyd’s The Wall, I grabbed my friend’s bass (a no-name P-bass copy which he called “Betty”) and played along with “Comfortably Numb”. I was awestruck. The instrument just spoke to me, and I realized a certain power in playing bass that I had never experienced with the guitar.
The next day, I quit the band and became a bass player.
A year or so later, while I was digging deep into Pink Floyd to learn all that Roger Waters could teach, a friend came over one day and asked, “Have you ever heard ‘The Real Me’?” I hadn’t, so he spun it, and the world exploded. I had never heard – even dreamed of – a bass being played like that. The field was wide open, and John Entwistle was leading the way. Later, I was introduced to the playing of John Paul Jones, Chris Squire, and Geddy Lee – and my musical world just kept growing.
I spent the time from 1980 to ‘86 learning, practicing, jamming – just absorbing everything I could. In 1983, I was working at Pacific Stereo, when one of the salesmen asked me if I’d ever heard of Jaco Pastorius. “No.” “Come in here, and watch this.”
We entered the LaserDisc Home Entertainment Room where a new concert disc called Shadows And Light from Joni Mitchell was playing, and Jaco’s solo was just beginning.
It’s difficult to describe the moment. I felt like I was seeing something impossible… like I was watching a man fly. It was the most amazing musical expression I’d ever seen on a bass. He was Coltrane and Hendrix; he was soulful and inspired; he was amazing, and I studied him like I studied no other.
My bass superpower/claim to fame:
Well, I “made it small” with a band in the ’90s – big gigs, producers, lawyers – but we never quite made it to the top. I have, however, managed to perform and record Bach’s “Little Fugue in G-minor” on a fretless 5-string, and as far as I’ve been able to determine, I’m the first person to do so… does that count? :-)
My major influences are: John Entwistle, Jaco Pastorius, Paul McCartney, John Paul Jones, Geddy Lee, James Jamerson, Pino Palladino, Verdine White, Dougie Thomson, Paul Chambers
There are, of course, many others, but I feel compelled to give “honorable mention” to Prince… not only for his bass playing, but for the fact that he is the greatest musician who has ever graced this wonderful little planet.
Five videos from a show last year:
…and some miscellaneous videos (including “Little Fugue”):