Play that Bass

Rick Shaw is the bassist for Johnny Mathis and Gordon Goodman’s Phat Band

Music is food for the soul and therapy for whatever ails you, and lung disease is no exception. Listening to music and learning to play an instrument has been an enjoyable and sanity-saving hobby for me. Learning new tunes is just as important to me now, as taking my morning nebulizer treatments.

Ive always had a fascination with music and sound. As a child I would tinker on the piano trying to figure out how harmonies and chords were constructed. I played trumpet in elementary school and messed around with acoustic upright bass briefly in my teens. I didn’t pick up a bass again, or learn how to actually play it until I was 57 years old. This time the bass guitar.

Playing an instrument like the bass can be quite challenging at times, because the medication I take causes painful muscle cramps in my hands, making it hard for me to bend my fingers. But just like everything else in my life, I find ways to adapt.

I love all kinds of music styles, but being bass oriented I tend to lean more towards jazz, swing and pop, or anything with a good beat to it. Im not very good at slap or fancy acrobatics on the instrument, but I can read a chart and pound out a pretty decent walking line.

Below are a few videos of me playing along to various big band backing tracks, even some Christmas tunes. Many of these were written for, and performed on upright acoustic bass. I do my best to emulate that sound with my electric bass.

Once again, this is just a hobby for me, so I’m totally allowed to screw up. A special thank you to Rick Shaw, Gordon Goodwin, Kris Berg Jeff Jarvis, Victor Lopez, Paul Clark, Alan Baylock, Doug Beach, Alfred, Kendor and Barnhouse publishing, and many many others for their musical talent and educational contributions.

If you suffer from a chronic illness, I encourage you to seek out a hobby for yourself. One that brings you joy and one that sets you free from your health struggles….at least temporarily. There are times when Ill start a song feeling like pure crap, only to get lost in the music and feel pretty good again.