Review: Touching All the Basses
One decades-old controversy in bluegrass has been all about that bass, to coin a phrase. Specifically, shalt thou play electric? Some fantastic musicians like Nick Forster of Hot Rize and John Cowan of New Grass Revival lent legitimacy to the electric bass despite getting booed for daring to violate the bluegrass code. I’ll confess that I am passionate about the big wooden double bass that anchors the classic bluegrass or classic jazz band. They make a sound like no other instrument. And this Wednesday at the Factory, when we reached the Nashville Jam on a dreamy all-bluegrass night, the upright bass player from all four bands (Jon Weisberger of Chris Jones and the Night Drivers, Alan Bartram of The Travelin’ McCourys, Mike Barber of The Gibson Brothers and Ethan Jodziewicz of Sierra Hull’s ensemble) assembled like an orchestral section and laid down a groove behind “I’m A Roving Gambler” that shook the stage and subjugated the subwoofers. It sounded huge and delicious. It was merely one of many thrills and smiles we enjoyed in a stellar show. But perhaps because the bass players of the world often receive the least attention, I was motivated to address this week’s Roots from the bottom up.