Monday, January 23, 2006

Country Bass Players

Jerry Ward: Great country bass playerJerry Ward: Great country bass player
Jerry Ward is the first guy to come to mind. These are the only pics I could find: at left from The Strangers first instrumental album, and at right from here. Jerry did really cool stuff on Merle's recordings from 12/65-12/68. This period pretty much includes every GREAT song Merle ever recorded. He may have continued; info on this guy is a little hard to come by. He died in early 2002.

Chuck Berghofer played standup on The Fighting Side of Me and electric on Workin' Man's Blues. That was 1970. His electric stuff sounds like he uses a pick. Very tasteful choice of notes; both of these guys get away with chomatic runs, particularly b7-7-tonic. The b7 seemed off limits to me for strict country until I started checking out Jerry. Hey folks, I've only been playing bass since November.

I just remembered something echoing my last blog I thought of in a Nyquil haze. Merle Haggard and Buck Owens are still alive. They won't be much longer. Though they aren't able to perform with their youthful vigor, and no, they haven't really reinvented themselves as Cash did, we as fans of country music, should honor the living legends somehow. The heroism that mainstream America gives to Johnny Cash should have been delivered well before now. Oh well, if a movie doesn't get made, most Americans won't know about it. But shit, I got into country music in 1992 (that is to say what the hell do I know). The first stuff I bought was Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and Buck Owens. Each of them remain mainstays for my music listening, and I dare say, Merle and Buck offer something that Johnny Cash does not (besides drums, he he). They have not been marginalized by mainstream culture. Get 'em while you can! Here's the NPR archive on aired in honor of Merle's lifetime achievement award from the recording academy.Merle is still on tour. Maybe check out a show. Buck performs frequently at his Crystal Palace.


Doyle Holly was the Buckaroos bassist from 63-71. This my favorite period of Buck Owens. It was a long run. Seems to me his standout contribution is really creative walking. The 1-5 songs, well, he does just that. Looks like he's still around; here he is at Buck's 75th birthday party in 2004.[web image lost] He is 68 himself, and looks like he's playing a newer Precision Bass.
[image no longer available:http://rhof.blackmill.net/baker/Doyleonthebass.jpg]

Henry P. Strzelecki is on Waylon's Honky Tonk Heroes sessions and probably many more. Don't know if I like this guy all that much, but that Waylon beat is linked with this guy. He seems to use a pick and a lot of 1-1-1-1-1-1-1 to drive the song.

Dennis Hromek also was a Strangers (Haggard's band) bass player in the mid 70's. Have to check into this some more.

Bob Moore may have the title for most recorded appearances. I love his older standup stuff, like White Lightning, and am looking forward to checking out some of his electric stuff.

Man, oh man, a little postscript. I am so glad I looked into Jerry Ward yesterday. I went out and bought a brand new Fender Jazz bass. Not because he had one, but it felt and sounded the best. No surprise since what sounds the best in country is Jerry Ward.

I put Fender flatwounds on there and also got a Peavey pro 500 head, with a 12ax7 tube pre amp stage. It was the best bass sound I've heard in a long time. We'll see if the Pyramid Gold flatwounds add even more.

We had a great crowd and a great time. Onward to see Willie Nelson tonight and play with Johnny Fingers and Leroy afterwards!

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