Monday, December 04, 2006

New CD from Dawayne Bailey

Click to visit!My old friend Dawayne Bailey has a new CD out called Joyland. Dawayne's a fantastic guitarist, and has, over the years, enhanced the bands of Bob Seger, Chicago, Veronique Sanson, and many others. He has also just been named a 2007 inductee into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame.

I would highly recommend you check Dawayne out, and give his new CD a listen.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Gigs in September

Just a couple of quick notes: I'll be backing up pianist Ted Clifford most Sundays in September at what has become a pretty regular gig for us -- the Jazz Brunch at LV's Uptown. Details HERE. Check my Yahoo Calendar for exact dates.

And, Since I'm on vacation this week, I'll be able to play the role of "house bassist" at the regular Tuesday night jazz jam at Mississippi Pizza on September 5th. These jams draw some of the best players in Portland and are always great fun. You never know who's going to stop by and sit in. Details are HERE.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Is summer over already?

Well, my bursitis ("Bass Player's Elbow?") is finally better, after taking steroids and other anti-flam type meds. It did not affect my playing much, other than not being able to do octave down-slides. It did affect almost everything else I did with my left arm, however, so I'm very glad to be feeling better.

The semi-regular gig I've been playing at LV's Uptown has been going well. It's a very nice room, I get to play in the daytime instead of late at night, and the food is excellent. And the best part is that I get to play with Ted Clifford, who is an excellent jazz pianist. It seems like every week we find new connections through the music, and take new paths through the tunes. For me this is what it's all about.

I'm always learning something new, too. Last week, I discovered a sweet spot on my E string for plucking with my right hand. By plucking with the side of my fingertip, an inch or so closer to the bridge from my usual position near the bass pickup, I get a very upright-like growly tone that works very well on long sustaining notes in ballads. I had been playing near this spot, but I luckily found the exact place last weekend. It will probably change when I change strings, but now I know what I'm looking for and how to find it.

Oh yeah -- the subject line. Summer is almost over, and I'll be glad for the return of the rain. We've had more 90-degree-plus days this year than I can remember since we've been here. I know some people consider hot & sunny to be the perfect weather conditions, but you just can't take that kind of attitude in Oregon. This weekend is going to be 90+ again, and I hope that will be the last of it.

Hey guitarists -- Funtwo is awesome.

And finally, R.I.P Maynard Ferguson.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


OK, I'll admit that I did not really know what bursitis was. That was before I got it in my left elbow. I had noticed a kind of dull pain right behind my elbow joint for a week or so, but hadn't paid much attention to it, but then last Wednesday night it started swelling and hurting like hell. It was even red and hot to the touch. My doctor prescribed some steroid pills, which I did not really want to take, but I went ahead and toke them like a good patient. They do seem to be helping my elbow, but the side effects are horrible. I'm hungry all the time, alternately jittery and mopey, trouble sleeping. I don't think I could endure a long period on steroids.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Ted Clifford and Steve Pinkston at LV's Uptown

UPDATE: We've been extended! Ted and I will be back at LV's this Sunday, July 23rd. All the other details are the same (see below). We had a great turnout on the 16th, so the manager invited us back. We will probably be invited back (or DIS-invited) on a week-by-week basis for a while. Many thanks to everyone who came out!

I'll be appearing with the fine jazz pianist Ted Clifford this Sunday, July 16th 10:00 AM to Noon at LV's Uptown. We'll be playing mostly jazz standards, with the unique flavors and spontaneous twists that Ted and I always create together.

If you're looking for a pleasant activity for a Sunday morning, please come out and join us. LV's Uptown is a very nice venue to listen to jazz, and they serve a delicious and decadent brunch buffet-style for 16 bucks, with smoked salmon, blintzes, fresh fruit and pastries, and much more. Details are at:

310 SW Lincoln
Portland, OR 97201

LV’s Uptown is located adjacent to the University Grill at University Place, Portland State University’s conference center on the site of the former Doubletree Hotel. The address is 310 SW Lincoln St, which is on the south side of Lincoln street between First Ave and Fourth Avenue, about 5 blocks south of the PSU Campus.LV's features free parking for patrons – that rarest of rarities in downtown Portland.

We hope to see you there!

Monday, May 15, 2006

A Place Called The Bla-Bla Cafe

A remarkable book has just been published, titled A Place Called The Bla-Bla Cafe.

I performed many times at this venue on Ventura Blvd. in L.A. with singer/songwriter Lisa Nemzo, both as a trio (with Marylee Tyson on cello) and as a full rock band. It was a very magical place, sometimes frustrating as hell and other times simply sublime. I have very good memories of the place, which provided a place to be heard for many rising stars in the 1970s.

And yes, there is even a mention of yours truly in the book, in a funny anecdote written by Lisa Nemzo.

For more information, or to order your own copy, go to

Bye-bye Fireside Jam

Well, the Fireside Jazz Jam is no more. Apparently, a combination of factors has led to the owner of the establishment cancelling the regular Saturday jazz jam that I've played at regularly for quite some time now at the Fireside Coffee Lodge at 12th & Powell. This is still a very nice, mellow place to hang out, have a cup of jitter juice, and access the internet; they just won't have a bunch of jazzbos and their friends hanging out on Saturday night anymore.

The good news is that Portland Jazz Jams is sponsoring a new weekly jam session at Proper Eats in the St. Johns area of Portland. This will be on Thurdays, and will have acoustic bass players only, so I'm out of luck on both counts. But it should be a good session and I'd encourage all jazz fans and players to come out and support this new venue. More information HERE.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Xeno's on April 14

New date added! I'll be playing as a duo with the fine pianist Ted Clifford on April 14th at:

8527 N Lombard St
Portland, OR 97203
(503) 735-9125

We'll start at about 7:00 PM. This should be a fun gig; Ted and I play together frequently at the Saturday night jazz jam at the Fireside Coffee Lodge, but this will be our first chance to play as a duo.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Steve on TV

Now, I know this is really no big deal, BUT, a local public access cable show featured footage of yours truly this weekend. You can see the program online at:

It's the show called "PJJ-TV #7 - Fireside Jazz Jam - 01"

You'll probably have to update your QuickTime player to the most recent version to view it.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Performance Schedule

I will have a light schedule at the Fireside through the end of March. I'm playing tomorrow night (Feb 25th), then again on March 11th and 25th. On March 4th Dan Presley (of Tall Jazz fame) will be filling in the bottom end, and on March 18th Brian Lowe will be sitting in. Two Saturdays off in a month -- wow!

Monday, February 13, 2006


I'm sick.

I don't get sick often, but this is for real, and I hate it. I think one of the guys at my day job brought a virus into work with him, and now I have a stinking cold.

There are benefits, of course. Sympathy is one, although that wears off pretty quick when your spouse is emptying wastecans full of damp, infectious Kleenex. Rest is another -- you're supposed to get a lot of sleep. But I always feel like I should be getting something, um, updating my blog.

NYQUIL! Now yer talkin' some fun! Since I don't drink alcohol, Nyquil is one of my little guilty pleasures. That little shot of booze you get, along with the witch's brew of god-knows-what and the green color and horrible anisette taste, make it my party-drug of choice when I get my annual cold. And man, does it put me to sleep. At least for about 4 days, until I get habituated to it. June says I should just save money and take a shot of tequila at bedtime, but that would be wrong.

Along with this is a side problem that is actually more long-term and worrisome. My arthritis has started showing up in my finger joints. So far, it has not directly affected any of my primary bass-playing fingers, but that may be inevitable. The best thing I can do is to keep moving as much as I can, and take anti-inflammitories when I need to.

Our health is precious, and can be taken away at any time. I think of those people I've loved, who I've lost too early, and I feel very lucky to have lived so long. I realize that there are many who would gladly trade my little aches and pains for theirs. I try to appreciate each day, and those people in my life that make each day a joy.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Tall Jazz

A fine local jazz group is Tall Jazz. This group consists of Dan Presley on bass, Mike Horsfall on piano and vibes, and David Averre on drums. Check them out at

I had the pleasure of watching Dan Presley (and yes, he is tall) doing his bass thing up close on Saturday night at the Fireside jam. He had sent one of his students down to get some practical experience (he was quite good, by the way), and then he decided to sit in for a few numbers himself. It was quite a treat. Dan's playing is strong, fluid, and he's always in control. Plus, his intonation is excellent even in the upper register, which is one of my pet peeves with many string bass players.

That's one of the joys of an open jam -- you never know what's going to happen, or who's going to fall by.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Professionalism on the stand

Here's today's question: What does it take to be a professional musician?

Chops? You bet. You need to practice regularly, listen to those who have gone before and established their voice in the music world, and strive to develop you own voice as a musician.

Good looks? I sure hope not. I am reassured when I look up pictures of Albert Collins, Keith Richards and others. Of course, Chet Baker started off beautiful and ended up looking like 50 miles of bad road. Which brings me to...

Health? It certainly helps if you can stay healthy as long as possible. this may take some effort if you are traveling a lot. Road food and long hours spent on buses and planes do not make for easy good health. If your muse is summoned by ingestion of chemicals, well, that's for you to decide, but I'll say that even though I've met some great musicians that were drug users and alcoholics, I haven't met very many old musicans that were.

But that's not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about professionalism. I am here to tell you that professionalism is the one trait that can keep you working even if your chops are not the hottest in the county.

I recently met a young bass player whose playing impressed me. I thought I might do a few things to help move his career along -- at least to the limited extent I could. I lined up an audition for him with a working band I knew about that needed a bass player. He showed up for the audition, but failed to bring an amp, assuming that one would be provided for him. Oops - strike one. I also arranged a 3-session gig for him. Not much money, but again, a chance to build his reputation and make valuable contacts. For all three gigs, he showed up late, no call, no apology. Oops - strikes two, three, and four.

The funny thing is that this fellow probably does not even realize what he did. Perhaps he figured, "no money, so no big deal if I blow it off." Later he may wonder why some guy that doesn't play half as well as he does is getting more work.

What is professionalism for a musician? Here are some thoughts. Bear in mind that this comes from the perspective of a bass player:

1. Show up. Plan to arrive at the venue early. Really early, like an hour or two. So, if you get stuck in traffic, or get a flat tire, or can't find parking, or can't find the venue, you'll still have time to get there, load in, tune up, and kick back while you watch the others straggle in.

2. Have your gear together. Do you carry extra strings, reeds, sticks, batteries, picks, cables or whatever your tools are? Why not? These are important components of what you do for a living. Keep your axe and amp in good repair. If you can afford it, have a backup for your axe and amp. If it's a jam or a casual, bring all your fake books, a stand, and a stand light.

3. Learn to read. Yes, many great musicians did not know how to read music. But reading music is like reading in your native language. You will be better for it, and you will work more. If nothing else, learn to read chord charts and rhythmic patterns.

3a. Learn to write. This may sound silly, or even too simple to mention, but you must must MUST bring a pencil with you. Particularly on big-band gigs or commercial gigs where there is sheet music, you will need to mark cues, key changes, imoprtant dynamics, and other things on your page. Of course you should always ask the owner of the music if it's OK to mark it up, and always mark in pencil, not in pen. If the owner says it's OK to use highlighter, go ahead. You did bring a highlighter, didn't you?

4. Pay attention. You are not the only player on the stand. Listen to what the other cats are laying down. Find a way to make the soloists sound good. Involve your ears with their playing, and find where you can fit in. Is the leader or soloist calling for "fours" or "eights" or "stop time?" These things only work if the whole group understands them and responds.

5. Be kind. Not every musician has fully realized their skills and talents yet. You may work with players whose abilities are less than yours. Do your best to help these players do their best. If they are having trouble hearing the chord progression or finding the beat, simplify your playing -- maybe down to quarter or half notes, roots and fifths. Help them find the music going on around them, and they may find the music within themselves. By the way, you will work with musicians who are better than you. I guarantee it. How do you want them to treat you?

6. Know when to shut up. There is a time to make noise with your instrument. That's when the song is being played. And there is a time to be quiet. That's in between songs. Noodling or riffing between songs -- whether on the stand or at rehearsal -- is very unprofessional, and makes for chaos. Don't do it.

7. Don't be a snob. Are you a "jazz player" or a "rock player" or a "bluegrass player?" Do you absolutely HATE some genre of music that is currently popular? Well, it would be to your advantage to get over it. You may love jazz more than anything, but if you're going to be a professional, you need to learn how to play the characteristic styles of many kinds of music, and play them well. There's a reason there are so many genres -- people like different kinds of music. For myself, I HATED disco, and refused to play it. Guess what -- I lost a lot of work.

8. Keep your word. If you say you're going to be there, be there. If you said you'd back up that young singer at her showcase for $10 and a slice of pizza, and then you get an offer of $200 for a corporate gig, what do you do? You keep your word, play the showcase, and enjoy the hell out of that pizza. Because once you get the reputation that your "yes" means "maybe," you won't be first-call anymore. And that young singer -- she might be Diana Krall next year. Wouldn't it be nice to have a friend like that, one you kept your committments to?

I'd be interested to hear how other musicians define professionalism. E-mail me if you'd like to discuss it, or point out how full of baloney I am. That's all for now.