Bettina Cataldi

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A “newbie” on the fertile New York City -Hudson Valley – Woodstock music scene, bassist Bettina Cataldi worships at the altar of warm hypnotic grooves and motifs which move a song in the manner of pocket progenitors Carol Kaye, Billy Cox, Duck Dunn, and Geezer Butler. However - she can furnish the flash ala Vulfpeck’s Joe Dart when the situation warrants! 

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Akin to many young players, Cataldi honed her chops at the School of Rock - in her native Long Island, playing shows as a bassist and vocalist covering artists spanning Frank Zappa, The Ramones, and Black Sabbath.

With only two weeks instruction on the instrument, Cataldi made her stage debut at the age of 8, rendering “Iron Man.” Bettina considers her first instrument voice and boasts a husky bluesy retro swing disposition much like her idol Amy Winehouse. 

Cataldi works extensively with guitarist / recording artist / composer Sal Cataldi – noted for his acclaimed electro-blues-jazz fusion-indie folk Spaghetti Eastern Music ensembles.

Bettina is currently waxing her new yet unnamed project, drawing inspiration from Winehouse, Arctic Monkey’s Alex Turner and Mac Demarco to name a few. 

Sal Cataldi, Dirk Drazen, Bettina Cataldi - photo by Deborah Kammer

Sal Cataldi, Dirk Drazen, Bettina Cataldi - photo by Deborah Kammer

Jonas Hellborg

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An instrument designer, prolific recording artist, studio and label owner, collaborator, producer, composer, and bass guitarist – Jonas Hellborg has been at the forefront of the jazz fusion / world fusion movements since the 1980s.

A dexterous player who draws from Western, Indian, classical, jazz, rock and permutations thereof, among Jonas’ high-profile gigs have been with the Mahavishnu Orchestra, The Word with Tony Williams, PiL, Ginger Baker, and Michael Shrieve among many others.  Since 1979 Jonas has waxed nearly thirty albums as a bandleader! 

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Bill Laswell

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Producer, recording artist, label head, composer – and a bass player, Bill Laswell is a giant of American music. Spanning pop, new wave, no wave, punk, dub, avante-garde, jazz, rock, reggae, electronica, techno – and permutations thereof, there is nary a genre Laswell has not excelled in.

As a bassist, his rhythmic vocabulary is stunning – and his association with players such as Jah Wobble, Bootsy, Jonas Helborg, among others has expanded the language of the instrument.

Laswell’s innovative production and collaborative efforts are the stuff of legend, he’s worked with everyone from Iggy Pop to Herbie Hancock, from Nine Inch Nails to Sly and Robbie….

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Jeff Berlin

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Yet another influential player from Queens County New York, Jeff Berlin is not only a master bassist, recording artist, music journalist, and composer – he is an acclaimed educator whose missives (books, lectures) are essential for serious bassists.

Berlin exemplifies everything that is engaging in jazz fusion – his supportive passages, improv, and melodic prowess have inspired players for generations.

For those of you keeping sideman score, dig a sampling of Jeff’s collaborative credits which include Patrick Moraz, Patti Austin, Ray Barretto, David Liebman, Bill Bruford, Passport, Allan Holdsworth, Janis Ian, k.d. Laing, and Ritchie Kotzen, to cite a very select few. 

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Rick Wills

Rick Wills commenced his remarkable career as a bassist with British blues rockers Jokers Wild in 1965 which featured future Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour. 

Among the most sought after recording and touring bassists in the classic rock era who plies his craft with a decidedly rhythm and blues disposition, check out Rick on David Gilmour’s self- titled debut (1978) wherein he utilizes flange and chorus effects and melodic harmonic extensions to augment the guitarist’s best work outside of the Floyd.

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Steve Bingham and Slim Chance: Life is Good on New Cross Road!

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The year was 1975 and I’d just returned from what would be the final Faces gig in Long Island, New York. Under the banner of Rod Stewart & The Faces – the performance was a decidedly over-the-top Roddish affair with almost the entire set list consisting of selections from the rooster haired rocker’s solo slabs, save for rollicking renditions of “Memphis,” “Miss Judy’s Farm” and “Stay with Me,” all from the classic 1971 Faces platter A Nod Is as Good as A Wink…  

 By this juncture, The Faces’ heart and soul and most gifted songwriter – Ronnie Lane – was long gone. Frustrated with the trappings of stardom, Ronnie went solo with a new band – aptly titled Slim Chance. In his place for that tour stood bassist Tetsu Yamauchi. A competent player, as his history with Free and other studio work proved, but no one could replace our beloved Plonk. And even Ronnie Wood had an understudy – Jessie Ed Davis – another great player, but not of the Faces musical ilk.

 No Ronnie Lane meant no “Stone,” “Richmond,” “You’re So Rude,” “Last Orders Please,” “Debris,” or “Glad and Sorry,” among others. Sacrilege!

 By then Ronnie’s solo slabs, Anymore for Anymore (1974) and Slim Chance (1975) were staples on my turntable. And they were hard discs to come by in the States, available only as imports at import prices at Bleecker Bob’s in gritty New York City. But a fan’s gotta do what a fan’s gotta do!

I’d say that a select few of us among the nearly sold-out show in the middle of suburbia would have preferred an intimate Slim Chance gig to the rock star showboating of Stewart and then-new Rolling Stone Woody. However there was slim chance of that happening, as Ronnie’s rootsy ensemble, though an artistic triumph, was not commercially viable in the burgeoning days of punk, prog, and rock music’s transformation from a niche artform to a bona fide segment of show-biz.  

 Fast forward to forty years or so to The Half Moon in Putney, London. Mark Preston, Derek Hanlon and I are filming Know Your Bass Player. I’m interviewing Slim Chance bassist Steve Bingham whose lines I’d learned as a teenager. With Lane singing lead and playing rhythm – Ronnie needed a bass player with character. Enter Bingham!

Mark Preston, Steve Bingham, Tom Semioli at The Half Moon

Mark Preston, Steve Bingham, Tom Semioli at The Half Moon

In 2010, years after Lane’s passing, Slim Chance reformed. Their goal was “to create a show which celebrates the range of Ronnie's later music: to take this show to people in village halls and clubs, festivals and theatres at home and abroad; and eventually, joined by numerous friends, to resurrect the Passing Show itself.” Mission accomplished.

 New Cross Road is the “newly reformed and unrepentant” Slim Chance’s third release on their own Fishpool imprint.  Once again the lads – bassist vocalist Steve Bingham; Charlie Hard on vocals, fiddle, accordion, and keys; Billy Nicholls on vocals, mandolin, acoustic guitar; drummer Brendan O’Neill; the always nattily attired Steve Simpson on vocals, guitar, mandolin, and fiddle; and Geraint Watkins on vocals and keys – render a few Ronnie Lane gems, along with newly composed songs, and a Who number “Squeeze Box.”

Check your album credits and concert memories and you’ll discover these local legends alongside Eric Clapton, Rory Gallagher, The Who, Ian Dury, Frankie Miller, Geno Washington, Carl Perkins, Van Morrison, Eric Bibb and Pete Brown, Colin Blunstone, to cite a few. More on that below!

As Steve Bingham is among my bass heroes, I put his name in the headline, and conversed with him about Slim Chance’s latest offering. I love talking to my record collection!

Slim Chance has been reformed and unrepentant for nearly a decade: how has the band evolved since Charlie and Steve Simpson decided to give Ronnie's ensemble another shot?

Since Charlie Hart and Steve Simpson first decided to get Slim Chance back together nearly 10 years ago it has evolved in many ways. The core original members of Charlie and Steve together with myself and keyboard/vocal legend Geraint Watkins have remained the same but there have been quite a few changes of other personnel over the years. It's a long story why various members have come and gone but the most important thing for us is that the band is now the best it's ever been and very settled. Key factors are the addition of Brendan O'Neil on drums who spent 10 years working with the legendary Rory Gallagher and Billy Nicholls who spent many years as the Who's director of music and is also a highly respected and hugely successful songwriter. 

Comment on the dynamic of Slim Chance in that no single member is the focal point - the lead vocals, solos, are all shared among the band! How do you thrive sans a sexy, strutting lead singer!

One of the main factors with Slim Chance is that there is no one member of the band who is the front man as we all take turns singing lead vocals and share backing vocals, solos etc. which at first prompted comments about us having no focal point but over the years people have come to respect us for what we do and it's worked to our advantage as it makes us hugely flexible with loads of different options to suit every occasion! 

New Cross Road is self-produced with help from Pat Collier - how do six geezers agree on anything! Or was it a matter of whomever wrote the song takes control over the production?

Our latest album New Cross Road was produced by the band along with studio owner/engineer Pat Collier who is incredibly talented and had a huge impact on the recording. Of course it's difficult with 6 different opinions sometimes ringing around the control room but we quickly realized that it was all sounding so good that the small details were not things to argue about and Pat's sound advice always seemed to shine through making the whole process hugely enjoyable. 

Once again New Cross Road sounds like Slim Chance playing in my living room - were most of the tracks cut live? Certainly you worked them out on stage as the tracks swing and have a warm resonance. 

All of the tracks on New Cross Road were recorded live with us all in the studio having lots of fun! Most of them were first takes as we'd spent a few days in a rehearsal studio before the recording sessions and of course many of them had been played live several times so we were all really familiar with the songs and there was such a good atmosphere in the recording room that it was almost like playing a live gig! Many people have already commented on the fact that it sounds like a band having fun and really enjoying themselves and we're all really pleased with the spirit and vibe of the album. 

I dig the unison lines on "Flossie Lane"- what horn part inspired that lick? Where is Flossie Lane? Does it really exist? What's the story behind this song?

“Flossie Lane” is a song I wrote all about a pub landlady!! The pub in question is the Sun Inn in Leintwardine Shropshire and it's one of only a handful of "Parlour Pubs" left in the UK. The landlady of the pub was Flossie Lane -no relation to Ronnie- and she was Britain's oldest publican when she died aged 94. The pub has now been extended but originally you walked in and Flossie's room was to the left with the drinking room to the right...basically her house!! Amazingly the new owners kept her room and the bar room exactly as it was when she died and they were kind enough to allow us to film a video of “Flossie Lane” there recently which will be released to social media soon! 

The main unison line which is played by everyone was composed on the bass over a number of months as I wanted a really good riff to hold the song together. I just had to write the song about Flossie after my wife and I visited the pub some years ago and I thought then what a wonderful story it would be for a song. It did take a few years to materialize but it's been well worth it and to hear it with the video is amazing because all of a sudden the lyrics come to life in the very room where she lived. 

 Interesting that Slim Chance chose to render "Chicken Wired" and "Annie" from Rough Mix - what inspired the band to remake those two Lane gems?

“Chicken Wired” was a song that first appeared on Ronnie's first solo album "Anymore for Anymore" which I played bass on and I also played it live with him many times in 1974 when I toured the country with RONNIE LANE'S PASSING SHOW. We tried in the set some years ago but for some reason it didn't work. However, when Brendan joined on drums it became a barn-stormer so it had to go on the album! 

Billy Nichols does a fantastic job on "Annie" and sounds to my ears, a bit like Ronnie with his pitch and timbre - thoughts?

“Annie” is a lovely song sung beautifully by Billy Nicholls who was a good friend of Ronnie back in the day and he has a very similar voice with an incredible range so he was the perfect match! 

 Do you have any plans to play Daltrey and Townshend the Slim Chance version of "Squeezebox" - terrific rendition - it's a real rave up - superior to the original to my ears!  What prompted this recording?

“Squeezebox” is a song we've played on and off live for a few years now and we chose to record it this time around as we wanted a bit more punch to the album and it really came out great with the very first take! Billy Nicholls played it to Pete Townshend who absolutely loves it and he's said really nice things about the album as a whole.  

When I saw Slim Chance render "Debris" at The Half Moon - it brought the house down - how did you approach cutting a song that is such a classic? Let's review the "Debris" bassline - Ronnie cut it on fretless with the Faces and it sounded like an upright - our man Bingham renders sweet upper-register counterpoint, and a grooves mightily in the pocket - talk about your approach to the bass track - very, very soulful! Did you cut that on the Mustang with flats?

“Debris” is a classic Ronnie Lane song and we've been playing it live for a few years now. It always goes down a storm and Geraint Watkins delivers a superb vocal performance along with a very soulful track which we are all very proud of. We approached it exactly as we would on a gig. The structure of the song is always the same but we all have total freedom in how we play it and it's wonderful to play the bass on this one because I never play it the same way twice and the last few choruses are really wild! I often think of the great James Jamerson when I play this and there are definitely influences of his wonderful playing on what I do. I'd like to think he's listening with approval somewhere!! The actual bass I used on all of the recordings was a 1961 Fender Precision owned by Charlie Hart. Heaven only knows how long the round wound strings have been on it but they still sound great! It's prompted me to have my own 1963 Precision restored which I should get back in the summer! 

Ian McLagen and the Bump Band covered "Spiritual Babe" - tell us about the Slim Chance version.

“Spiritual Babe” is a lovely song written by Ronnie in Austin Texas when he was very ill. It's a lesser known work but a beautiful song with heartfelt lyrics which we decided needed to be on the album. It's one of those songs that you have to sit down and really listen to but if you're prepared to get into it then you won't be disappointed. The vocal was a first take which I only intended as a run through but the band and Pat Collier wouldn't let me do it again as they all thought it was perfect and in hindsight I'm glad we left if how it is! 

Despite the fact that digital technology permeates every aspect of our lives, folks still yearn to hear real voices and acoustic instruments - why is the sound of Slim Chance more relevant in 2018 than it may have been back when Ronnie started the band in '74?

One thing that has kept the band together and continues to be inspirational is the reception we get when playing live. We are not there to be pop stars or posers as our only aim is to play great live music with heartfelt soul and to give the people who come to see us something to smile about. Our gigs usually end with one big knees up and everyone is happy at the end of the show which is why we continue to do it! 

Explain the significance of the album title New Cross Road.

New Cross Road is a road that runs between the Elephant and Castle and New Cross in South East London and it's where we rehearse!! We were all sitting on a hot summer’s afternoon debating what to call the album and nobody could agree on a title until somebody (I can't remember who!) came up with the idea of calling it New Cross Road which we all immediately agreed on and the meeting was finished allowing us all to go to the pub! 

We had a great time making New Cross Road and it shows in the recordings. We laughed all the way through it and I think the years of playing the songs live make this album our best to date and we're now looking forward to promoting the album on live gigs and doing what we do best which is enjoying the thrill of being in a fabulous live band. 

Tom Semioli interviews Steve Bingham for Know Your Bass Player

Tom Semioli interviews Steve Bingham for Know Your Bass Player

New Cross Road is out now on Fishpool Records.

For all things Slim Chance check out:

 Watch Steve Bingham on Know Your Bass Player On Film:

Huffington Post: Tom Semioli Slim Chance: And the Band Plays On The Move (2016)

Huffington Post: Tom Semioli Ronnie Lane and Slim Chance Are Alive and Well (2014)

STEVE SIMPSON vocals, guitar, mandolin and fiddle, has worked with Frankie Miller, Eric Bibb, Roger Chapman, and played on Ronnie Lane's Slim Chance, One for the Road and See Me.

CHARLIE HART vocals, fiddle, accordion and keys, has played with Pete Brown, Ian Dury, Eric Clapton and worked on Ronnie Lane's Slim Chance, One for the Road, Rough Mix, See Me, Rockpalast.

STEVE BINGHAM vocals and bass, played with Geno Washington, the Foundations, Colin Blunstone, worked on Anymore for Anymore, played bass on The Poacher and toured with the Passing Show

GERAINT WATKINS vocals and keys has played with Carl Perkins, Nick Lowe, Van Morrison, released his own albums and joined Slim Chance for the 2004 Ronnie Lane Albert Hall concert.

BRENDAN O'NEILL, drums, has worked with Rory Gallagher, Nine Below Zero, Glen Tilbrook to mention a few. Brendan knew Steve Marriott and is highly respected for his all round musicianship.

BILLY NICHOLLS, vocals, mandolin and acoustic guitar, knew Ronnie well as he and the Small Faces played on each other's records back in the Sixties. Since that time Billy has been a prolific and successful songwriter and singer and has also worked extensively with The Who.



Jeff Ganz by Tony Senatore

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Jeff is a longtime friend of mine, because we relate on many levels. We both have a thing for Gibson EB series bass guitars, cheap but great Japanese bass guitars, Marshall amplifiers used for bass, and multi string basses( Jeff often plays an 8 string, double course bass, and I play a 12 string, triple course bass). The foundation of our connection is that while we are well versed in many styles, we are both rock and roll players at heart, and we both have great admiration for Jack Bruce and Felix Pappalardi.

Another layer to our connection is the fact that he often worked with my late father on as far back as I can remember. Back in those days, 150 to 200 club dates per year was the norm, and my father used to always tell me that Jeff Ganz is " some bass player'. That was the highest accolade he ever gave anyone, and he didn't give praise often.

Jeff has recorded and toured with artists ranging variously from Johnny Winter to Gerry Mulligan and Dr John. As his website illustrates, his resume reads like a who's who of popular American music. Last night, all of that diversity was on display as he navigated through an incredible array of genres with Acid Cabaret, which proves to be a perfect vehicle for his immense talent. Jeff will be moving to Florida next week, and I was glad to get the chance to see and hear him, and get a big hug too! He will be back next month for a show at the Cutting Room with the Hit Men, and I'm hoping to make the show.

It was great to see you last night Jeff. I'm wishing you all the best in Florida.

Paul Webb

Amid the barrage of keyboard synthesizers, drum machines, and other digital wizardry, many a bass player in the 1980s pop music medium had to further explore the instrument to maintain its relevance. Enter Talk Talk’s founding bassist Paul Webb who worked the fretted and fretless, abetted with effects, rendering counterpoint and soulful grooves aplenty in the service of Mark Hollis’ compositions. A producer, writer - nowadays Webb works under the moniker “Rustin Man” with two slabs to his credit. 

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KYBP Remembers The SideWalk Cafe


February 2019

We weep when any venue which affords a stage to performers goes dark.

This deceptively humble setting, however, was a venerable non-stop circus of poets, crooners, rockers, bikers, folkies, freaks, attention seekers, winners, losers, jazzers, avant-garde 'aven't got a clue artistes, flakes, floozies, boozers, bohemians, loners, bon vivants, rappers, painters, pouters, shouters, raconteurs, and writers of every conceivable genre and permutations thereof - among others - who celebrated the fringe - and perhaps not realizing that they too were a part of the show! It was my de facto Huff Post hub, and the site of scores of interviews ranging from Vh-1 to Amplifier Mag, Shout New York, Pop Smear, Spin, No Depression, and its ilk.

Aside from the gigs, my most treasured wee hours of the morning memory here was in April '97 dining next to the Spice Girls, still in uniform and at the apex of their fame following an Saturday Night Live appearance. No one fawned over them other than their waitress, who was decidedly non-plussed! New York City is a much, much poorer metropolis with its absence.

Godspeed Side WalkCafé!

Photo of (L to R) Tom Semioli, Dirk Drazen, Kathena Bryant, and Tim Champion by Mark Polott

Photo of (L to R) Tom Semioli, Dirk Drazen, Kathena Bryant, and Tim Champion by Mark Polott

Doyle Holly by Graham Maby

By Graham Maby

I knew Doyle Holly as the tour bus driver. He was a good driver who kept the bus fastidiously clean. He could be kinda grumpy, but I liked him.

It was around 2001 and we pulled up outside a college somewhere in the Midwest. There was a fan standing with a 12” album cover and a Sharpie, and as I got off the bus this guy asked me if Doyle Holly was on board. I was confused and curious. Doyle got off the bus and graciously signed the cover. It was an album by Buck Owens and the Buckaroos. That’s how I found out about Doyle’s illustrious career and impressive history. Over the ensuing weeks I hung with him a lot, we became chess buddies, and he shared a few stories. I wish I could remember them all.

Originally from Oklahoma, Doyle Holly held it down on bass during the heyday of Buck Owens’s Buckaroos, progenitors of the “Bakersfield Sound,” who had more than 30 Top Forty singles on the country music charts in the 1960s and early 70s and were a hugely influential band of fine musicians. During Holly’s tenure, the Buckaroos won the Academy of Country Music’s “Band Of The Year" award four years in a row from 1965-68, and won as "Instrumental Group of the Year" twice, in 1967 and 1968. Holly himself was nominated several times as "Bass Player of the Year” by the ACM, receiving the award in 1970.

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The band recorded a live album at Carnegie Hall in 1966, which Holly said was his favorite recording as a Buckaroo. It is widely regarded as one of the best live albums in country music history. The Beatles famously recorded one of the Buckaroos’ hits, “Act Naturally,” on their 1965 album “Help!” Wikipedia states that “while on tour in London in 1969, Holly, Owens and (guitarist) Don Rich met up with John Lennon and Ringo Starr.”

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However, Doyle himself told me a different story: Owens had told the band that the Beatles wanted to meet them during a day off on tour. Doyle and Don Rich had already planned to rent motorcycles and go riding that day, so that’s what they did. They weren’t so impressed by the Beatles that they were willing to miss out on a day’s riding!

After he finally left the Buckaroos in 1971, Holly formed the Vanishing Breed and recorded two albums and some of his own songs, such as "Woman Truck Drivin' Fool,” “Queen of the Silver Dollar,” and "Lila,” which reached number 17 on the country music charts in 1973. Holly continued to record throughout the 1970s and scored a minor hit with "A Rainbow in My Hand" and a jukebox hit, "Richard and the Cadillac Kings."

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Holly is honored in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and in 1980 received a block in the Walkway of Stars at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Tiring of the road, Doyle opened “Doyle Holly Music" in Hendersonville, Tennessee in 1982, finally selling the store a few years before his death in 2007. He also continued to play a handful of gigs across the United States and Canada, and as Wikipedia states, “for a time Holly even drove tour buses....”

That’s when I had the good luck to meet him and know him—thanks to that fan with the album cover. But dang, I wish I could have seen and heard him play.

Graham Maby, New York City, 2016 - Photo by Joanne H. Preston

Graham Maby, New York City, 2016 - Photo by Joanne H. Preston

Donnie Nossov: The End Is Finally Here (No Depression / 2018)

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"The End!' Well, it started as kind of a joke - the project was taking soooo long, I thought it was going to kill me!  It's called 'The End' - as if this is going to be the last thing I ever do! Of course, the alternate meaning of that name is that 'The End' represents a goal..."  Donnie Nossov 

You don't meet many humble folks in the music business however Donnie Nossov is that rare exception.

Though the name may not resonate with individuals outside the recording industry, his work as a side-man and session bassist is legend: Cher, Pat Benatar, John Waite, Lita Ford, and Genya Ravan, to reference an extremely select few. I hereby put forth the declaration that in the past forty years and counting - Donnie Nossov's bass is being heard nonstop somewhere, anywhere on internet and broadcast radio, streaming services, via various formats including vinyl, CD, cassette and 8-track; on bandstands, and DJ turntables.

Some dude wearing a Hawaiian shirt is playing Donnie's basslines in a classic Top 40 band right now. Another cat with a backwards oversized Ed Hardy baseball cap is sampling Donnie for the dancefloor. Tuxedoed pros on the wedding, Bar Mitzvah, corporate event circuits render Donnie Nossov basslines every day and every night amid Kosher chicken-fingers and horseradish.

And that's not counting his work on film and television soundtracks as a composer and performer.  If there is ever a time when Donnie Nossov's bass playing is not being heard or replicated; life as we know it on planet Earth no longer exists. Scratch that, even after humanity is destroyed - and we're getting close - whatever life form exists will find a copy of The Graces' Perfect View and dig Donnie's bass parts.    

At present Mr. Nossov is the composer/ producer / bassist / multi-instrumentalist / and occasional lead vocal mastermind behind The End and their remarkable debut - Imaginary Life. "It wasn't intentional, I didn't say it's time for me to make my own record - let me write all these songs…" laughs Donnie from his Los Angeles home. "I'd been writing songs for a long time - and I'd be recording them as I go." 

Experience counts for everything in Imaginary Life. "I’ve worked with great people in my career, but it was also my coming of age period where I was steeped in all the great bands and writers of the 1960s and 70s - from Brit rock, American folk rock, blues - those influences permeate everything I do."

Waxed at his home studio and various locales at his own deliberate pace, Nossov enlisted vocalist extraordinaire Gia Ciambotti to carry The End to the finish line. 

"One evening my wife Nancy and I were just sitting around and she asked me ‘why don't you play me some of the songs you recorded?'  I played her five or six songs in a row and she said 'you know, why don't you make this into an album!' It was kind of a cross between 'what are you f'n crazy - and a light bulb moment! I thought, ‘yeah well they do kind of fit together…so then I started to listen to them in that context…and I came to the realization that 'yeah I can do this."   

Classic rock fans will dig the diversity of Imaginary Life - which, in the classic rock era, was the way things were done. Every track is unique with regard to tempo, feel, and execution, however it all hangs together perfectly. The acoustic and electric guitars meld ala Petty / Campbell, the melodies soar, the song-craft is timeless, and the rhythm section swings. And it’s a song-cycle that won’t ever sound dated as long as there is an audience for human musicians playing “real” instruments. Scratch that again, even if you remake these songs on computers, the hooks will still shine through the bleeps and boinks. Note to Beyonce, Taylor, Rihanna, Madge, Nicki – call Donnie Nossov! 

And Imaginary Life is no mere collection of tracks. Playlists be damned! Nossov’s all-important album track running order takes the listener on a journey. Tight cuts, no filler. The band and the album have a unique character – much like the artists Donnie has anchored. The End sounds like… The End!    

"The process started out with me and a basic musical idea; and building a track from the ground up. I would get a basic drum feel, throw on acoustic guitars, add bass and get it to 'feel right' - and then call Gia as early as possible so I could really hear the song! Largely I asked the other musicians 'what do you hear?’ Unless I had a really specific idea, I trusted them!"  

Soulful and sensual, among Gia’s most riveting performance appears on the opening track. Notes Nossov “she came in to do the vocal on ‘Like A Drug’ and seemed distracted.  She nailed the vocal and told me she felt like she was coming down with something.  She later told me that she had bronchitis.  She was able to not think about it and connect with the song.  I think it may be the most emotional vocal on the record, for a 40 second bit!”

For the record, pun intended, Nossov's extended posse aka “The End” is quite impressive: co-writers Lorraine Feather (acclaimed jazz writer and artist), Eddie Arkin, Chrissy Shefts, Laura B.,  Mark Aaron, Julia Goode, Risa Duff, and Gia; guitarists Gary Myrick, Storey Scheinberg, Ritchie Fliegler (“the only guitar player to have played with both Lou Reed and John Cale”), Brian Ray (Paul McCartney’s touring band), Marc Daine Dannenhirsch; keyboardists Michael Skloff, Daniel Crawford; and percussionists Dame Crawford, Rudy Richman.

Nossov would like to bring a touring version of The End onstage in select cities, however, at the moment, plans are up in the air.     

And in an age wherein most album art affords the impression of a mass transit ad, Nossov brings back depth to the format: "that's a photograph I took in a hotel room in Paris about five years ago. I was searching for a cover when I decided to call it Imaginary Life. There's a certain loneliness to it. If you look at the chair, it appears as if someone sat in it! But they're not there anymore…there's an imaginary person - and I had the ends flipped on the graphics just because I liked the way it looked."

Even the self-producer's chair suited Donnie Nossov quite well.  He boasts "I never had any arguments with my client!"

Imaginary Life by The End is out now and available here:




Apple Music:

Google Play:






Photograph of Donnie Nossov and Gia Ciambotti by Christopher O’Brocto.

Coda: And on the topic of bass player royalty, Gia’s late father is another icon of the instrument: you’ve heard John Ciambotti on Elvis Costello’s My Aim Is True, Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, as the bassist in celebrated Bay Area 70s ensemble Clover, and on slabs by John Prine, Nick Lowe, Norton Buffalo, Carlene Carter, and Jim Lauderdale, to cite a few.

Joe Dart

Joe Dart darts up and down the fretboard with flawless fluidity in the service of fun funksters Vulfpeck – who prove that bands can actually reach the masses in the post album era. Inspired by Michael Peter Balzary, EWF’s Verdine White, Francis Rocco Prestia, and the immortal Jaco – Dart, with his treble tone dominating, is a dexterous player whose passages quote Motown / Philly soul classics whilst pushing a harmonic and rhythmic envelope or two. In fact all the ‘pecks are clever instrumentalists- and they support each and their frequent guest collaborators with old-school expertise.

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Samuel Kiszka

Bollocks to all ye naysayers! Head-up-their-arse geezer rockers (yes, you!) and indie snobs (are there any other kind?) incessantly grumble over Greta Van Fleet’s hearty homage to their influences however amnesia sets in with regard to the obvious factoid that the omnipotent Beatles, Stones, Yardbirds, Sonic Youth, Oasis, and Led “We Can Afford the Best Lawyers” Zeppelin – all pilfered heavily from those that came before them.  Refer to Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Velvet Underground, Stooges, Little Richard, and Buddy Holly among others who wuz robbed, and in Page / Plant’s case: their contemporaries Spirit, and Moby Grape. Akin to his mentor, the former John Baldwin, bassist / keyboardist Samuel Kiszka is a fluid, soulful player who serves the almighty song. Nice to see a bona fide rock band piss folks off in the 21st Century. Long may they infuriate and inspire a new generation. Note to Robbie Williams, play “Highway Tune” loud enough for your neighbor to hear!      

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John Illsley

Bassist, pub-owner, singer, painter, band member, solo recording artist, TV presenter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist John Edward Illsley anchored Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ensemble Dire Straits for the entirety of their extraordinary career which spanned 1977 to 1995. Given the presence of world class guitarist, songwriter Mark Knopfler, Illsley deftly worked the pocket with a trad tone in support of his bandleader – and they managed to sell over 100 million albums.    

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Joe Iaquinto “A Tale of Two Basses”

I have owned countless electric basses in the 48 years that I've been playing, which is weird, since I'm only 25 😐. 

When I left New York City in 1978, I sold all but one bass: a 1966 Fender Precision Bass that I bought from Manny's Music, which is where I was working.

Me in 1978, with the '66 Fender….

Me in 1978, with the '66 Fender….

The bass was white that had become yellowed over the twelve years it was around, and it had a rosewood board and a beautiful tortoiseshell pick guard. Being the knucklehead I was, I stripped the paint off of it (lighter fluid, matches, and a scraper, and I caught my drapes on fire. Knucklehead). I was a huge Peter Cetera fan so I wanted my bass to look like his, which was natural with a maple neck. One of the guys I worked with at Manny's happened to be selling an early-70's maple Fender P-Bass neck so I bought it and installed it on my bass. Voila! It looked great and sounded even better than it did before. That was the bass I moved to L.A. with. It was my only bass until I bought a back-up at the end of 1978. At that time, I was the bass player in a magnificent original band called "Hit N Run." We were right there at the flash point of the whole "New Wave" scene in L.A., playing all the iconic clubs in town. We were mainstays at Madame Wong's, The Starwood, The Whiskey (BEFORE they made you pay to play!), The Troubadour, The Roxy, and many more. We were always doing gigs with bands like the Bus Boys, The Motels, 20/20, The Pop, and a lot of other L.A. greats.

After my Fender started having issues at one of our gigs, I knew I needed a back-up bass so I went to a music store in Santa Monica and fell in love with a bass made by a company called S.D. Curlee. I had never heard of them but out of all the basses I tried, it was the winner. The bass looked like a cross between my old Gibson EB-3 and my Fender, and it had a medium-scale neck, which was very comfortable and easy to play. I bought the bass and it immediately became my go-to, leaving the Fender as the back-up.

Me with the S.D. Curlee, in 1980

Me with the S.D. Curlee, in 1980

I did a lot of gigs and recording sessions with that bass and it rocked! Right around this time a friend of mine had gotten into a car accident and her bass, a Music Man Sabre, was destroyed. She was playing with a couple of very cool bands and needed an instrument, so I sold her my Fender, which I had painted red, sanded back to natural, swapped out the original pickup for a DiMarzio, added a Jazz Bass pickup to, and then removed that pickup and filled the hole with wood putty. Being an old Fender, it still sounded great and was unbeatable.

I sold her the bass for next to nothing because she was my drummer's girlfriend and she was a wonderful person and a fantastic bass player. Her name was Mickey Steele. She wound up becoming the bassist for the Bangles, where she used the name "Michael Steele," and I was blown away to see her using that Fender, with its wood putty scar and everything, in the band's first MTV video!

Michael Steele with the Bangles, with the '66 Fender

Michael Steele with the Bangles, with the '66 Fender

She even used it for the Bangles reunion concert years later! So there I was, with my S.D. Curlee and my new back-up bass, a modified Gibson G-3 (which we don't need to talk about). Long story short, I sold the S.D. Curlee to my friend, Franklin Odel and he used it in his studio and that was that.

The Fender got famous with the Bangles and the Curlee had a new home. Life happened, years passed, etc., etc. Fast forward to today, February 3rd, 2019. I see a post from the daughter of the lead singer of Hit N Run, whose name is Linda Stevens. Her daughter, Molly Tentarelli, who is a phenomenally talented singer-songwriter, is sitting and playing an S.D. Curlee bass which looks exactly like the one I had. After several back-and-forth posts, I find out that it is, in fact, my old S.D. Curlee Bass. Linda got it from Franklin and now Molly has it. Me = Mind Blown!!! After four decades, it does my heart and soul good to know that this beautiful bass that was an important part of my life and that I made so much great music with, is alive and well and in the family, so to speak.

Molly Tentarelli with the S.D. Curlee, today.

Molly Tentarelli with the S.D. Curlee, today.

Thank you, Franklin Odel, Linda Stevens, and Molly Tentarelli for making my day. My face hurts from smiling so much. And everyone needs to check out Molly Tentarelli on Facebook and make sure you buy her music, which is fantastic! ✌️❤️ 

Pictured: Me in 1978, with the '66 Fender, Michael Steele with the Bangles, with the '66 Fender, Me with the S.D. Curlee, in 1980, Molly Tentarelli with the S.D. Curlee, today.

Jorge Casas

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A producer, arranger,  composer and contemporary of mine at the University of Miami, where to begin with Jorge Casas? A true giant of the instrument, he was among the most versatile players to pick up an electric / upright bass, with a resume that spanned a career long Musical Directorship with Gloria Estefan & The Miami Sound Machine, and record / touring credits including Jon Secada, Laura Branigan, David Coverdale & Jimmy Page, Madonna, Ricky Martin, Luciano Pavarotti, Dave Grusin, Frank Sinatra, and Julio Iglesias to cite a select few.

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Chris Brubeck

He is from the “First Family” of American jazz. Chris Brubeck, son of Dave, is a Grammy nominated composer, multi-instrumentalist, recording artist and electric bassist who has worked stages and slabs with a remarkable array of artists spanning The Brubeck Brothers, Chris Brubeck’s Triple Play, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, Gerry Mulligan, Bela Fleck, Bobby McFerrin, Stephane Grappelli, Patti LaBelle, Larry Coryell, and Bobby Womack to cite a very select few! Plying his craft on a fretless Rickenbacker – Brubeck is a multi-genre master who was quoted in Bass Player opining that “composing is selective improvisation!”

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Eric Haydock

“Eric was a bad-ass bass player and a very funny man," recalled Graham Nash upon learning of The Hollies’ founding bassist’s passing in early 2019. Commencing his career with Tony Hicks in the Manchester ensemble The Dolphins; Haydock was among the first to adopt the Fender Bass VI six string. Considered one of the premier UK players in the early 1960s and revered by rockers including Edward Rogers and Sal Maida; Haydock, according to the press clips I’ve reviewed, was prevented from writing songs for the group, and consequently left and/or was sacked following a dispute with management.  Regardless, that’s Eric anchoring the lads’ early hits “Just One Look,” “Look Through Any Window,” and their first chart-topper “I’m Alive.”  Following his departure in ’66 Eric formed Haydock’s Rockhouse – a rhythm and blues outfit which was a commercial flop, hence Haydock left the music biz.    

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Tin Machine

The masses just didn’t get it in 1989, however David’s Tin Machine, to my ears, ranks among his greatest works. As I have been witness to many a Bowie ensemble over his career, including TM on their final concert trek; the triumvirate of Reeves Gabrels, Hunt Sales, and bassist Tony Sales were incendiary on stage and on record. Tony works the pocket and often renders brilliant counterpoint with legato phrasing and a sharp tone to balance his mates, who took off into the harmonic and rhythmic stratosphere and then some. The live slab, titled as U2 spoofery, offers a glimpse of how remarkable they were on any given night. Of the entire Bowie canon, these three releases warrant re-evaluation. And they were funny in concert too, jibing each other between songs.  

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