Ask Damian Erskine: Best way to Shine?

Q: When you are presented with an opportunity to play with people you look up to, what is your approach? To you try and blow everyone away?

A: Great question! The first thing I would say is to be yourself! Don’t try and play like this guy or that guy you’ve seen them with, don’t try and do anything that you wouldn’t do if Joe Blow was playing that same song with you.

Especially if I’m a bit nervous or on edge, my tendency is to lay back! Err on the side of being too reserved rather than trying to fill every space with every lick you know! I’d rather someone ask me to be more aggressive than to please tone it down!!

As bass players, our role is that of foundation and support. We sometimes forget this when practicing soloing chops and tricky scaler patterns, etc… most people want us to play BASS.

At the recent NAMM show, I was honored enough to play with some amazing musicians and many of whom, I had never rehearsed with or played with before! My favorite was Marko Djordjevic and Jeff Ellwood. Very difficult odd-time stuff. I focused on keeping it solid on the quicky rehearsal before two gigs. He knew I could hold it down, keep my place and be a good bass player. He asked me to feel free to interpret the music and fill in more harmonic space with chords, etc. (sax trio) basically be more aggressive with it. The next two gigs were a blast and he is now talking about doing more playing!

I firmly believe that if I had come in blazing and overplaying, he would have been much less impressed. Producers are definitely that way. Most people want their bass players to be work horses who can run when necessary, not race horses discontent with plowing the field.

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Have a question for Damian Erskine? Send it to [email protected]. Check out Damian’s instructional books, Right Hand Drive and The Improviser’s Path.

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  1. gigiherrera

    thanks Damian.very informative,let all bass players play bass!

  2. gigiherrera

    thanks Damian.very informative,let all bass players play bass!