Meet Rachel Rhodes, a musician who started life in Austin, Texas and now lives in France playing music and working on mobile games. While she started on other instruments, she credits her dad with showing her the way, with plenty of James Jamerson, Chuck Rainey, David Hood, and others in rotation.
Rachel is this week’s No Treble reader in the spotlight (you could be next!) Here’s her story…
I’m a bassist/composer/singer originally from Austin, Texas. I was raised by opera singers who preferred T. Rex when they were off the clock. I am also terrible at writing bios.
I am currently a narrative designer at a mobile game company.
I have been playing bass on and off for 30 years. Sometimes paid. Mostly not.
Bands & Gigs:
Playing solo mostly these days, but I do have a jam duo and a jazz practice trio going.
Basses and Amplification:
- Lakland 44-02 (Dunlop Super Bright Steels)
- Cort SJB5F Fretless (D’Addario XL Nylon Tapewound)
- Cort Action VI-A (Dunlop Super Bright Steels)
- MTD Kingston Z6 (FL) (Dunlop Super Bright Steels)
- Aguilar TH350 and SL112
- TC Hall of Fame
- TC Ditto x4
- MXR Bass Chorus
- Dunlop DVP4
- EHX Micro POG
- GruvGear Fret Wraps
- Gruv Gear Duo Strap (I note this because I wouldn’t be able to play at all without this invention!)
Why I play the bass:
I started playing the violin at three, alto sax at 9, then moved to cello/classical guitar at 10. But I always loved the bass parts in songs. My parents must have picked up on that because they taught me a lot about pocket, backbeat, feeling the pulse in complex time signatures. Lots of dancing in our house. But the deciding factor for playing was John Entwistle. When I was 11, I heard a Who retrospective on the radio, and that was that — had to have a bass guitar! The minute I got one in my hands, my fate was sealed. I started upright when I was 13, but am way out of practice! From 17 on, some serious health issues forced me to stop playing from time to time, but now I’m back for good.
My bass superpower/claim to fame:
My inner hearing isn’t too shabby. And somebody once told me that my pocket could hold an elephant (a rainy day compliment I will cherish forever).
Mostly it’s what I grew up listening to. My dad made sure I heard plenty of James Jamerson, Chuck Rainey, David Hood, Aston Barrett, Stevie Wonder (and Nate Watts, obvs)… My mother loved Percy Heath, Cachao, and Johann Sebastian Bach. Around age 13, my favorite mixtape from a guitarist friend included the Cannonball Adderley Quintet (Mercy, Mercy, Mercy Live at “The Club”), NoMeansNo (Wrong), John Zorn (Spy vs. Spy) and Fugazi (13 Songs). But I also listened to “Quadrophenia” every day at that age, so…
Two major inspirations for doing what I am doing these days: Steve Lawson and Rich Brown.
I am also super inspired by the global bass community in general. Bassists are the best-est!