“I don’t play bass, I just fill space!”
The late, legendary Richard Clare Danko helped forged a timeless canon which sounds as fresh today as it did when The Band officially burst upon the scene under their own banner with the stunning Music From Big Pink (1968).
Danko’s phrasing was unmistakable. He defied convention – yet his artistry was steeped in the tradition of country, blues, folk, and jazz – passionately weaving its way through an ensemble of pure virtuosos. Akin to Johnny Cash and Billie Holiday, you could decipher the weight of the world in Rick’s vocals – which directly translated to his bass playing. Adept on guitar, mandolin, upright, cello, accordion, trombone, banjo, piano, and fiddle, everything Rick recorded with The Band is essential. Ditto his work with Bob Dylan on Planet Waves (1974), Before the Flood (1974) and the various archival Basement Tape collections from 1975 and 2014.
As composers, instrumentalists, and recording artists, to my ears, every Americana artist owes a debt to Rick Danko and The Band which can never be repaid.