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Reader Spotlight: Paul Vienneau

Paul VienneauMeet Paul Vienneau, a bassist from Nova Scotia, and our player in the spotlight for October 5th, 2010.


I come from a musical family and started bass at 12 years old, after playing drums for four years. My older brother introduced me to jazz, fusion, funk, etc., while my friends and I listened to AC/DC, Rush, KISS, etc.

I’m mainly self taught, though I went to St Francis Xavier University for Jazz Studies 1988-90, then moved to Toronto to pursue my career. While cycling, I was hit by a tractor trailer… two years in hospital, 35+ surgeries, lost my left leg, and I now use a wheelchair. I took two years off playing, then went full time again, touring, recording, gigging across Canada. I came home to Halifax in 2001 and now teach privately and perform/record.


Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Day gig:

I play music and teach bass. After looking at my career differently, I have a great jazz duo house gig in Halifax and odd gigs. I’m setting up other house gigs and starting teaching at the local community college this week.

Years experience:

31 years

Bands & Gigs:

Jazz duo with a fine guitarist Russell Brannon. I play with a great Salsa band, Salsa Picante. I play country with Mark Cameron. I sub in with several Halifax artists.


  • 6-string fretted F-bass
  • 6-string fretless F-bass
  • 6-string Yamaha TRB-6P
  • 1969 Fender Prescision
  • Fender Jaguar
  • small rectangle of pink sponge I cut from a kitchen sponge, as a mute
  • Markbass 1×12 combo
  • Boss Loopstation
  • Boss octaver
  • Danelectro octave pedal
  • Boss bass overdrive

Why I play the bass:

Literally, I always “heard” the bass. When I was a baby, I sat on the floor when my dad’s country band rehearsed. I think I have always felt an affinity for the type of “melody” the bassist uses to subtly influence the audience’s experience of the song.

My bass superpower/claim to fame

I have been very fortunate to get to play with and learn from musicians from different genres, and the ability to “get inside” the styles and play them authentically. I have had a few Cubans say I play their music like a Cuban, which is very flattering to me.

I would like to think my “claim to fame” is being a rock solid bassist with great internalised time and a great groove.

But we are all works in progress.

My influences

In no order, Jaco, Stanley, Victor Wooten, Jeff Berlin, Bach, Jimmy Garrison, Dave Holland, Paul Simonon, Aston Barrett, Oscar D’Leon, David Young, Charles Mingus, Gene Simmons, Geddy Lee, Elvin Jones, Paul; Chambers, Ron Carter, Pino Palladino, NHOP, Steve Swallow, Anthony Jackson, Billy Sheehan, Bootsy Collins, James Brown, Alain Caron, Mark King, Marc Johnson, Joni Mitchell, Frank Sinatra, Scott Thunes, Norwood Fisher, Jack Bruce, Chris Squire, Rocco Prestia, Sir Horace Gentleman, Scott LaFaro, and just about anyone I’ve ever seen live or heard on album.

More on the web:

I am a guest teacher on Play Bass Now


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Paul, you are a awsome bass player and a true example of overcoming adversity.