Friday 1st June was my debut gig as bassist with the pop/fusion group – ESP (Eccentric Sound Productions) Band. I remember seeing ESP Band live for the first time somewhere during 2008. I remember feeling insanely excited at how skilled they were, and wondered whether I would ever achieve the level of playing that such a great band demanded. At that stage I’d been playing bass for all of a couple of months, and the thought of ever sharing a stage with them must’ve been furthest from my mind. I remember getting into bed that night with jazz licks and RnB grooves bouncing around in my head; while the insatiable thought of one day being able to play bass like my teacher and ESP Band’s resident bassist; now manager Heinie Jack. I suppose this post then; is somewhat a coming of age, a homage to where my journey began all those years before.
The gig was at Rietenbosch School in Cloetesville – a ‘coloured’ neighbourhood just outside Stellenbosch central. Billed as a ‘Comedy Meets Jazz’ event, the show was headlined by popular Capetonian comedian Wayne McKay; whose jokes about ‘swirl-kouse’ (an elaborate device that coloured women use to straighten their hair) and Jacob Zuma’s head that looked like an external hard-drive; had me in stitches. I could tell that Wayne’s 13 years of comedic experience had paid off for him in a big way, as he acted his way through his 50 minute skit.
ESP Band featured Ramon Alexander (keys), Lou-Ann Stone (alto sax), Neville Arnolds (drums), Sima Mashazi (vocals), and Ricardo ‘Twakkie’ de Ruiter (vocals). My personal highlight was playing Jamiroquai’s ‘Too Young To Die’ with its iconic bass groove. I also enjoyed playing Chic Corea’s fast paced ‘Spain’, which was sung by Twakkie in the style of some otherworldly incantation.
The sound on the night wasn’t too hot and I could hardly hear any definition on my bass half of the time. I suppose this had to do with the poor acoustics of the school hall we performed in, the loud front of house sound, and the fact that I had gone straight into the mixing console without the use of a bass amp. As such; my bass sounded dry and flat, and I had little control of my tone.
I guess dreams can come true, but nothing in real life is as peachy as the movies. At least I can say, I did it!