"....take solace in the fact that no one else sounds exactly like you do, and make that your most attractive quality..."
So it's been nearly 16 months since I first arrived in Vancouver and I now have just under a week to say my goodbyes and prepare for my next adventure.
It has been a memorable period of time in my life on many fronts: I've made new lifelong friendships, I've travelled many thousands of miles across this great country playing music with some fantastic musicians, I've been inspired, demoralised, lost, found, fulfilled and emptied. But most importantly I have came out the other side a better musician and a stronger human being.
As this is my musical portal to the world, I will try and keep this blog entry focused on my growth and experiences as a musician, but inevitably it's hard to separate the music from the soul.
I'd say the biggest thing I have learned from my time here is the realisation that I do actually have something that people want. That is, people value my skills as a bass player and want to make music with me. This may sound somewhat naive or like something I should already be aware of, but it's taken 16 months of plugging away in this Canadian city for it to finally become something I'm convinced of. That feeling of security in what I have to offer as a musician is incredibly liberating and comforting. Knowing that I'm able to fulfil most of the musical situations I find myself in to such a level as to eventually be THE bass player that people would want for that gig is a very rewarding feeling.
I'm NOT saying that I am the baddest bass player in town, or that my chops blow all other bass players away, or that I'm gonna be getting a call from Prince for his next tour.... All I know is that I'm finally able to draw on such a wide array of experiences that I can quickly arrive at the best musical solution for most of the situations I will find myself in at this point in my career.
Aside from the continued development of my musical abilities, I've realised that possibly the most important (and overlooked) skill for this industry is being able to 'hang'. My good friend Steve Leske pointed this out to me many years ago and I finally realise the importance of it after spending more than half my time in 'musical situaitions' not actually playing. Canada is a big country....like, mind bendingly big. And as such, an 'out of town' gig can mean anything from 1.5-14hrs driving. That is a LOT of time spent in the company of your fellow bandmates and if you are the one causing tension, farting in the van and generally not pulling your weight, it really doesn't matter what you do on stage because you will not last long in that gig. Being able to make people laugh, know when the right and wrong time to talk about things is, offer solutions to problems outside what you've been hired for and turning up on time (that means early!) with good gear that looks and sounds the part, go hand in hand with nailing the gig and making the band leader sound good. Be the guy who buys the first round, does the late shift behind the wheel, skips date night to make that rehearsal you don't need but the new drummer does, and you're well on your way to being the best bass player those guys have ever had, regardless of your chops.
So, I guess to sum up what I've been drivelling on about is this: keep your chops up, your head down, your ears, mind and eyes open and learn when to speak, to listen, to stand up and to walk away.
Next up: The Cruise Ship..... Thanks for reading!!