Tribal Basics

On my way to the bass guitar show in London I felt a sense that this might be the place where I find my tribe. I am, to all intents, a tribeless person. I’m a middle class white man, which doesn’t help. My mum and dad’s families come from two very different places, neither of which are the places where I was brought up, or where I live now. I’m happiest in a multi-cultural environment but live in a village where everyone looks and dresses the same (not exactly the same – that would be weird – but you get my point). My paternal family, and hence my name, is from Kent. Although I feel at home when I visit Kent I don’t feel a massive urge to move there. Not now, at least. My parents made our immediate family more important than our roots so I wasn’t brought up feeling I had anywhere to connect with.

So, in a half-arsed way, I look out for tribes to belong to. This may sound trivial, but bass players are people I identify with, because playing the bass is the most consistent thing in my life (other than being someone’s son). I picked the instrument up in my teens and can’t imagine not wanting to play it, or learn more about it.

So, I was full of bass playerness when I got to the show at Olympia. When I finally arrived in the space where it was held though it dawned on me that:

  1. I’m not part of a bass player tribe. The sense of individualism felt stronger than the bond.
  2. Being predominantly a fretless bass player meant I’d have to think about belong to a tribe within a tribe – that was just too needlessly complicated and narrow.
  3. There really is such a thing as too much bass. The combined mush of sound when thirty or more people are playing basses is just overwhelming. I needed to hear someone playing the flute to balance things out.

As it was, on the journey home I bumped into the Chapman Stick player, Bucky the Busker. While talking to this interested, engaged and passionate musician I knew who my tribe was.


nmj said…
I enjoyed reading this, Will, you have a way of expression that is quite unique.

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