As the world continues to recover from the Coronavirus, we're all finding ourselves in unfamiliar territory given the subsequent lockdown that is keeping us off of stages and confined to our homes. Luckily, there's comfort in the fact that we're all in this together, and that there are still many outlets for us musicians to keep us active and sane throughout this quarantine. We're checking in with bass players from all over the world to see what they're doing to stay entertained, healthy, productive, and safe during this trying time.
Bass Player: Michael Visceglia
Bands & Artists: Suzanne Vega, John Cale, Bette Midler, Christopher Cross, Then There Were Two, Middle of Somewhere, Strange Land, Kinky Boots and Escape to Margaritaville on Broadway
Home: New York City
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I’ve been passing my time up in the Catskills at my country house. I’ve set up a studio, learned Logic X, and have been doing remote bass recordings on a lot of diverse projects. I’ve also spending more time with my wife and our dog than I’ve been able to do in a very long time.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
Regarding bass practice, I've taken it back to basics: Mostly fundamentals; working on time, tone, and execution. I’ve been doing some recordings and videos of my drummerless trio, Then There Were Two, with Fiona McBain on vocals and Gary Schreiner on piano and chromatic harmonica. The bass is very exposed in this band and I have to be even more observant of my time, tone, and touch. The videos of those recordings are up on my youtube channel.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
I've been into the Berklee Bass Seminars on Zoom that Steve Bailey has been hosting. He’s had an array of diverse superstars talking all things bass and even life philosophy. It has been very enlightening and somewhat poignant to hear how all of these cats are dealing with this trying time and knowing that we're all in the same place with this. I’ve been listening to a lot of vocalists. Especially the two ladies from Lucius. They’re killing singers who have become the go-to for many live bands and sessions. They’re from Brooklyn, based in L.A., and their records are great. I've also been listening a lot to Sara Niemietz, a fabulous singer in L.A. She posts a lot of online performances. A beautiful and soulful alto voice. Everything she does is full of feeling and nuance.
Mike Visgelia’s Then There Were Two:
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I've been sticking with my Lakland Joe Osborn Jazz Bass with Fralin pickups. I've been experimenting more with pedals and I’m digging the Eventide H9 Harmonzier Effects Processor. It’s full of amazing, very rich sounds. I first heard it when I saw Percy Jones use his at a show, and I was immediately sold. A lot of greatness in a reasonably priced pedal.
What non-music activities, books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?
I’ve been spending a fair amount of time watching great TV and movies. All of the premium channels have wonderful shows and, between that and Pay-Per-View, it has been a gold mine of terrific writing and acting. I've also been reading a fabulous book by the physicist Brian Greene, titled Until the End of Time, where he walks the layperson through the latest science and philosophy of the origin of the universe, time, and consciousness. It's a beautiful book!
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
I can’t wait to get back to some semblance of normalcy. Aside from my three personal bands, which I miss performing with, I was just about to organize, play, and musically direct an all-star concert of the songs from the musical Hair, when the world of live performance came tumbling down. I will get back to that as soon as I’m able. There were also gigs in the book for me to play shows with the Meatloaf band. I was deep into learning their 90-minute show when everything crashed. That’s supposed to be back up and running next spring.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
My advice to my fellow bassists during this troubling time is to use it wisely and productively, and try to exercise all aspects of your life: artistic, physical, emotional, and spiritual. Even though things are sad in the world right now, take this extraordinary time to center yourself, through meditation, exercise, spending time with your loved ones, practicing, and listening. Most likely, you won't have this sustained amount of time to devote to these parts of your life for quite awhile, if ever again. Also, it’s very important to limit your exposure to the news and treat yourself and others kindly. Peace!
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All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi