This time of year, a little over 20 Years ago, my life changed forever.
I'm not guaranteeing this will do the same for someone else but ...I have a perfectly good electric bass that I want to give away - for free.
This is why...
20 years ago I was handed an upright bass in my grade 9 general music class in Birchwood. I didn’t want it. I hadn’t thought of it previously. It just happened. But then music entered my life. If someone told me that day that “you will become a professional musician and eventually teach upright bass at a university level”, I would have exploded with laughter in that persons face. If someone on that same day told me “If you stick with music and study it at a university level this is where you will eventually meet your beautiful wife that you will have 3 beautiful children with”, I probably would have listened, but still not believed.
You see, I hated myself. I had zero self esteem. Probably like a good portion of my classmates but I always felt I was alone. “I’d never amount to anything” I always thought. The biggest dream I had was becoming the first NHL goalie that didn’t skate (I still can’t skate) and I knew that wasn’t going to happen. But then yes, music entered my life and for the first time something felt right. It was a month after this that I found myself on stage at an orchestra festival in St. John, NB. I performed…as a musician. The lights, the audience, it was terrifying and wonderful. If someone told me that day that I would spend 3 years as the recording and performing bassist for the ECMA award winning Jive Kings and tour the Maritimes, Quebec and Ontario, and then eventually become the bassist for the Confederation Centre of the Arts for several years, record on several more CDs, work with hundreds and hundreds of amazing musicians, and be considered one of Sonny Caulfield’s favourite go-to bassists… well, this time I would have most definitely listened. Because I finally had some confidence and saw a light at the end of the tunnel for the first time in my life. I was hooked on music. I …. was a musician.
Immediately after picking up the upright bass, I learned about something called an electric bass. I had to have one. I found a picture of one in a Sears catalog, I cut it out, and I stared at it for hours. I imagined what it would be like to hold one. I wondered what the knobs were for. I didn’t even know you could plug it in. When I found out you could amplify it, my mind was blown. I begged my parents for an electric bass. But I knew we had almost no money. My eventual brother-in-law knew a guy with an electric bass that was kept under his bed, unused. I didn’t care what it looked like. I wanted it. I offered to sell my original Nintendo and with that cash I helped subsidize the purchase. I was the proud owner of a shiny red Harmony electric bass with a black pickguard. It was seriously the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Finally to hold one, an electric bass. It was amazing. It didn’t come with an amp so my very handy father figured out a way to hook up my new electric bass to one of those old grey “ghetto-blasters” and this was my gear for over a year. I spent countless hours playing it and learned every Guns and Roses song from Use Your Illusions I which had been released just months prior. I was in heaven. I had purpose. My parents encouraged me every step of the way. They obviously saw a light in my eyes that was missing.
I could tell you the story of every instrument I owned since then, they all have great stories (the next Christmas when my parents surprised me with a brand new bass and amplifier, my first Fender acoustic guitar, my first electric guitar, my first several professional electric basses including my fretless, my first new upright bass, and just this month my lovely Fender Stratocaster purchased in memory of my parents) but it would take too long.
I do want to tell you of one instrument I didn’t mention there. My black sheep. It has a bad ending (so far) that I hope to change with your help. I’ll get to that in a minute.
In spring of 1998 I was finishing my 3rd year of university and for a summer job I was going to do dinner theatre in Summerside, where I knew that instrument sharing was common – my fretless would be unusable. At this point I no longer had a fretted electric bass in my possession (I sold my original Red bass #fail and had ripped the frets out of my 2nd bass to make it fretless #win) and I needed one to do the show. I had no money to buy a new one so I went to a local music store and traded a $900 Fender guitar amp for an old used black Yamaha electric bass, a beat up case, and a set of cheap strings. I knew I was on the end of a bad deal but I was desperate. The bass did the trick but it never felt right mostly due to its birth into my life. It didn’t have a great beginning story for me. Aside from using it in dinner theatre for 2 summers, this bass has laid dormant in a closet. Unused. Shunned for years. Sad. But after regretting selling my original 2 basses, I swore I’d never sell another instrument, as I knew I’d regret it. So there it sits as I write this in my office closet in my basement.
Sound familiar? An electric bass sitting there unused. Waiting. Waiting for anxious and excited hands.
I want you to help me find those hands. I want you to help me find a current version of me 20 years ago – desperately wanting an electric bass. Desperately wanting change. Something to get up for. Something to run home after school for - besides the usual TV shows, computer games, social media, or walking to just plain boredom and lonesomeness. Someone willing to sell their Playstation, Wii, or iPod for it. I want this bass to find its true owner who will love it like the beautiful musical instrument it really is.
If you know of someone, send me a message to firstname.lastname@example.org – tell me your story. If I don’t find the right person it will sit in my closet until I do. I don’t want to just give it away to anyone. I want to give this bass to the right person. For free. On top of that I’d be most willing to give some lessons too – for free. If it’s the right person.
Help turn this black sheep into a black beauty.
Spread the word.
** Update **
- The response to this has been overwhelming - both in the number of stories/replies I've received and also the amount of support I've received in sharing this story and my desire to give away this bass. Again, this will not be an easy decision. I will be making my decision early next week ( Dec 19th or so ). Stay tuned. It will be up to the recipient whether they want their name to be released.
- Matt Rainnie from CBC Radio asked me to drop by to tell this story. I did so earlier this week and had a nice chat with Matt. The interview aired on Thursday morning and can be found online here http://www.cbc.ca/islandmorning/episodes/2011/12/15/finding-a-home-for-his-bass/
- A couple hours after the interview aired I got a call from Compass :) - we worked out a time to meet at my house and again I was able to share my story, this time on camera. Very cool. Lindsay Carroll and cameraman Steve Stapleton were great to work with. http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/Canada/PEI/1305552999/ID=2177178787 it's on about the 9:30 mark
- My bass found a home: http://derylgallant.blogspot.com/2012/01/bass.html