I’ve mentioned here before that I play bass guitar. I’m a self-taught musician and have been playing as a hobbyist since my teens. My dad has played acoustic guitar for as long as I can remember, but I started on a portable Yamaha keyboard. Once I borrowed a friend’s bass back in my college days I was hooked. At the time I was totally into Rush and Geddy Lee inspired me to make the bass my instrument.

I built up a collection of gear through college and played along with my favorite CDs to learn. Eventually I hooked up with two other guys at UB (Chris and Daryl) who played guitar and drums and wanted to play Rush, too. We called the band “Desert Ice”, jammed nearly every Friday for a few years, and played the occasional party. We were driven to be good enough to entertain, but never had any illusions about making music full-time. I was the only one who sang, for the most part, so that part of our act was never high-quality. 😉

Fast forward to now. My guitars (Ibanez SR1205, Hamer Slammer Chaparral 5, Ovation Celebrity 12-string, and Fender Gemini 6-string) and bass stack (ADA MB-1 & B500B, custom-made 2×10″ and 1×18″ cabs) are played occasionally, but now they’re seeing a bit more use. There’s a new muse in town. For the last two months I’ve been playing bass in the contemporary choir at our church, St. Catherine Laboure.

We had occasionally attended the 7PM Sunday mass, and I’d always admired the group that played then. Mrs. Kelly, the regular organist and music teacher at the school, whom Melissa and I met before she played at our wedding, was on piano. She was joined by a guitarist, bassist, and vocalist, and everyone sang and harmonized. It reminded me of the “folk groups” at the churches I’d belonged to (both called “Church Of The Resurrection”) in Memphis and Fairport. I always wondered if I was good enough to play in a group like that.

At the end of August, we attended a 7PM mass and the group was down to just Mrs. Kelly and the guitarist/vocalist I mentioned before (who happens to be Mr. Kelly). Melissa showed me an ad in the bulletin that said they were looking for a bassist, among other musicians, and that they practiced before the mass. After thinking about it during that mass and asking Melissa if it was alright to regularly attend the evening mass, I spoke to the Kellys and was welcomed to join the group.

We’ve played on and off these last two months; I believe it’s been five times now. It’s fun. I learned to read music in grade school but have never applied the discipline to sight-reading (I’ve relied on tablature to this point). However, I can learn the hymns pretty quickly and I “cheat” by using the chord charts and key. I’m working to develop my eye and wake up my musical ear. It’s the first time I’ve played with people I consider “real” musicians and it’s been very validating. It’s also given me a reason to invest more time in my playing.

I’m also going to invest a little time in my equipment. My ADA equipment is still doing fine, but my 2×10 cab needs to be sanded, painted, and have corners & grilles put on. And my 18″ cab has developed a buzz. As opposed to going out and getting “professional” cabs (and spending a few hundred bucks), I’m going to see if I can make the ones I have work for me. Luckily, there’s a bass amp at the church, so I’ve only had to bring my bass with me. But if I start playing out at all, I want my equipment to be ready.

Working with the Kellys (John and Joreen; go check out their band) and the other new member, Lily (who sings), has been challenging fun and I look forward to continuing to play with them.