Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Nickel Creek at the Ryman (or...To There and Back Again)

This past weekend, I drove from Chicago to Nashville, TN to see Nickel Creek at the historic Ryman Auditorium (dodging tornados and severe thunderstorms all the way down). I am a huge fan of the band (and its individual members) and never cease to be amazed at how many people are completely unaware that this great band even exists. While I know that the group is not necessarily a "pop trio", probably doesn't get much Top 40 airplay, and is not part of MTV's video rotation, they are regularly nominated for Grammy awards and are some of the most talented and accomplished musicians and songwriters to come along in decades. They have managed to create a form and style of music that is uniquely their own, and they consistently put on the most unique, inspired, and downright FUN live performances of any band that I can think of. You are guaranteed great music, great fun, and great memories at a Nickel Creek concert...hands down, every time!

While I have thoroughly enjoyed myself at ever Chicagoland Nickel Creek show that I have attended over the course of the last five years or so, I just had a feeling that this particular show at the Ryman was going to be a special one. I had only been inside the building as a tourist (the Ryman Auditorium is the original home of the Grand Ole Opry), and had never seen a show there. I figured that there might be a special guest or two (Bela Fleck played banjo on a couple of tunes during the encore), and I was excited to see some of the new material from the group's latest album played live. Needless to say, it was an amazing evening, and that evening will probably go down as one of the more memorable concert performances that I have ever seen...and I've seen a LOT of great live performances.

So...what does this have to do with bass playing and Blueberry Hill Bass, right? First, I was a bit disappointed to find out after the show that the band will be taking a hiatus to pursue solo projects once their commitments to a spring tour in 2007 have been fulfilled. I bring this up because I want to encourage everyone who loves great songwriting, acoustic music, and outstanding musicianship to see Nickel Creek when they come to your town next year. It might be your last opportunity for quite a long while.

The second reason why I decide to write about THIS topic, of all topics, is to bring some deserving attention to Mark Schatz. Even though I am not an upright player, and even though Mark is not particularly known as an electric player (or as a user of the type of high-end, hand-crafted instruments that Blueberry Hill is known for), we bass players as a group are notorious for supporting one another. Bass players and bass enthusiasts all over the world have been extremely supportive of Blueberry Hill and my efforts to bring the best gear and the best service to my customers. I am a big fan of Mark's playing and his musicianship and wanted to shed some light on his musical endeavors. While playing around on the internet and gazing at photos of fancy, high-end basses can be a lot of fun (I do a lot of that myself), it's also important to remember to get out and support our bass-playing brethren. Listening to different players with different playing styles, different influences, and different approaches is a great way to broaden your musicial vocabulary, and it's a great way to find musician inspiration.

If you have a chance this spring, get out there and check out Mark with Nickel Creek. And even if you can't, or if you're already familiar with Mark's amazing upright skills, make an effort to check out another bass player with another band who you might not ordinarily listen to. Supporting each other, and the bass playing community as a whole, is what makes bass players so unique!


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