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Autobiography by Band

September 28, 2010

I picked up my first electric bass when I was 13, less than a year later I was playing in my first band and have been playing in bands ever since. Being a jazz musician I haven’t really played as many bands (in the traditional sense of the word) as other musicians. (Jazz musicians just hire other guys who they feel like playing with or for who they think is best suited for a certain venue, style of music they’ve been writing, etc. A regular, rehearsing band is kind of rare in that world). But I’ve played in my fair share. I was looking at some old fliers on FB of Indianapolis bands from my youth and I started reminiscing about all of the groups I’ve played with. I thought making a chronological list of all the bands I’ve been a part of would be fun. So here we go:

Rattletrap

Style: Hard Rock/Metal
Instrumentation: bass, drums, lead guitar, rhythm guitar/vocals
Sample Covers: “Tattoo” Faster Pussycat, “Bad Boy” The Beatles, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Nirvana, “Livin Lovin’ Maid” Led Zepplin

Bio: Exactly what you would expect from a middle school garage band in the late 80s/early 90s, we grew our hair long, we worshiped Guns N Roses, we would practice for hours in a hot, stuffy garage, go swim in the above ground pool, then practice some more until the drummer had to leave to have dinner with his parents. I like to think we were above average for a bunch of thirteen-year-olds. For as much as we practiced, we didn’t have very many gigs: a friend’s 13th birthday party, the clubhouse of a trailer park (not joking, and there is VHS evidence of this somewhere), and a Battle of the Bands sponsored by a local record shop where we were horribly outclassed. By the time we got to high school the band was no more.

Outward Bound

Style: 90’s Alt. Rock
Instrumentation: bass, drums, 2 rhythm guitar, vocal
Sample Covers: “Skulls” The Misfits, “Would” Alice In Chains, “State of Love and Trust” Pearl Jam, “Rain King” Counting Crows

Bio: Looking back I have to say that Indianapolis had a very healthy indie music scene for kids in the early 90s. We would hold shows in kids backyards, community centers, and hole-in-the-wall clubs. There was a great amalgamation of music; everybody loved Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Cure, Sonic Youth, and Slayer equally. Everything had this melodic hardcore sound Straight Edge and Emo was huge (in my day kiddies Emo was a term used to describe melodic and moody straight-edge hardcore music, not teenagers with eyeliner and Pro Tools). One the bands on the scene actually became pretty well-known in underground hardcore circles; Split Lip (later changed their name to Chamberlain). Anyway, Outward Bound was a lot of fun. We would try to cram all different sorts of music together into one heavy sound. Our singer Josh (who was also the singer for Rattletrap) was amazing, he and I were the only constants, the band went through quite a few different lineups until I went off to college and had to quit. But I had so much fun at those shows and practicing with those guys, probably my favorite band experience. Check out the FB page of this local club we often played, there are some great pictures and fliers posted: The Sitcom

Noodleboy Stout

Style: Funk, Rock
Instrumentation: bass, drums, guitar, alto sax, tenor sax, trombone
Sample Covers: “Pass the Peas” Maceo Parker, “Cissy Strut” The Meters, “Go Down Gamblin'” Blood, Sweat, and Tears

When I got to college I quickly discovered jazz and funk and was lucky enough to fall in with a group of fellow music majors who were like-minded. There was a bar in my college town of Muncie, IN where all of the good regional bands played and we were lucky enough to score a gig playing there on Sunday nights. A local singer/songwriter started sitting in with us and we started doing some rock covers as well. This caused a rift in the band between the guys who wanted to play more jazz and the guys who wanted to rock out. I was only in the band for a few months as I was soon asked to join local Jam heroes Cootie Brown.

Cootie Brown

Style: Jam Band
Instrumentation: bass, drums, guitar/vocal, Rhodes/harmonica
Sample Covers: “You Enjoy Myself” Phish, “Cosmic Debris” Frank Zappa, “Pow” Beastie Boys, various Grateful Dead

I’d never listened to the Grateful Dead or Phish let alone play in a jam band, so when I was asked to audition for Cootie Brown I didn’t know what to expect, but after our first rehearsal I was hooked. I was already a big jazz fan and now I was in a band that was 50% improvisation but without all of the restrictive chords in jazz (of course, jazz harmony isn’t really restrictive, just seems that way to a novice musician). I had a blast in Cootie Brown. I was kind of in awe when I first joined, the guys had gigs booked at some of the biggest venues in Indianapolis, places I had dreamed about playing when I was a kid. (I’ll always remember in one of my first gigs at The Vogue in Indianapolis I got physically thrown out for drinking since I was only 20 at the time, it was crazy. Luckily we would play there again.) We recorded a demo (I have still have that cassette tape) and had a large following around Ball State University. Soon we were traveling regionally playing frat parties all over Indiana and clubs in Chicago and Ohio. Things got ugly for a bit when we kicked out our rhythm guitar player/singer. He stunk but was very popular and a lot of our fans didn’t come see us play anymore. We bought a large P.A. with a loan from his parents and he broke into some of the guys’ home and stole it after he was kicked out. We got served with a lawsuit for the remainder of the loan. Luckily everything was worked out with letters between lawyers and it never went to trial, all we had to part with was a mic and mic stand for the departed member. But we foraged on and continued to play all over. Some gigs stand out: a marijuana festival, “Heavy Metal Night” at a bar in Ft. Wayne where despite our best efforts to play old Rush covers and our heavier stuff we were hated and booed, playing an outdoor music festival where I saw two girls make out for the first time, and opening for The Why store a jam band from Indy who were actually signed to Atlantic. If you’ve ever heard my “hanging out and jamming with George Clinton” story, it was with these guys. Alas, I got my degree and headed to grad school in Michigan and my days as a Cootie were over.

The Butterfat Trio

Style: Funk/Jazz
Instrumentation: bass, drums, organ (and various vintage keyboards)
Sample Covers: “Full House” Wes Montgomery, “Here, There, and Everywhere” The Beatles, “Loo-Ka Py Py” The Meters

After moving to Kalamazoo, MI I quickly got a weekly jazz gig playing at a local dive bar where I met my good friend and keyboard player Rob. Soon after Rob introduced me to Jeff and we formed one of the most fun bands I’ve been a part of. We would play MMW style funk, jazz standards, whatever. We had enough energy (and volume) to play rock clubs but could also play dinner music at local restaurants. It was great, so much fun personally and musically. Once again, I graduated and moved away this time to Los Angeles and had to quit the band. They got another bass player and continued to play. About a year and a half after I moved they recorded a CD and asked me to play on half of it. Even though that was about eight years ago it remains one of my favorite recordings I’ve been a part of, there are a lot of great original compositions and tons of vintage keyboards. Great sound, great record, great memories.

Lyman Medeiros Bossa Nova Project

Style: uh, Bossa Nova
Instrumentation: bass, drums, guitar, piano, vocal
Sample Covers: “Flor de Lis” Djavan, “So Tina de Ser Com Voce” Jobim, “Samba do Brande Amour” Jobim

Me and my guitar player friend Steve both have a love of Bossa Nova. We know this fantastic singer that speaks Portuguese and decided to form a band. We recorded a demo and were working pretty regularly. But when it comes to the business side of being a bandleader, I’m pretty unmotivated. I still love playing this music and hope to work more with the band in the future.

Gerry Gibbs and the Thrasher Band

Style: Jazz
Instrumentation: bass, drums, piano/keyboards, 3 saxophone/mulit-instrumentalist
Sample Covers: “Giant Steps” (in 7/8 time) John Coltrane, “Festival in Bahia” McCoy Tyner, “Don’t You Worry Bout A Thing” Stevie Wonder

My good friend Gerry is a phenomenal musician with a wonderful free jazz aesthetic. As his second record with the band was being released he asked me to join and we did quite a few gigs around L.A. that year. Unfortunately the band never quite developed the following it deserved and Gerry moved to NYC.

Chloroform Days

Style: Electronic Folk
Instrumentation: bass, DJ, guitar/vocal
Sample Covers: “Sea of Love” Phil Phillips

My good friend Cory’s project and the first ‘rock band’ I’ve been a part of in a long time. Good songs, funky beats. Hopefully many more shows to follow.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. khm permalink
    October 1, 2010 8:50 am

    I knew most of this, of course. You’ve always been determined to play and you’ve always been better than most and fearless about playing for others.

    I laughed about the early gigs you played. Our next-door neighbor family has a 17-year old drummer that has been playing with the same two other guys (living behind us and across the street; this has caused some consternation in our neighborhood) in a band called “Medow” for five years or so. They were AWFUL when they began and played nothing but Nirvana covers. Over time they’ve improved and written some of their own tunes, developed some chops. They play every year inside their garage for the neighborhood sponsored yard sales (for real: 10 AM to noon, no cover), friends’ parties and they’ve had their hearts broken at some local battles of the bands. The terrible thing is that of the three boys, the lead singer is actually the worst vocalist. But he won’t let anyone else sing much and he owns all of the sound equipment…

    I think they’re about to be derailed by the drummer’s new and very adventurous girlfriend. We call her Yoko.

  2. Mary M. permalink
    October 8, 2010 5:49 pm

    Bassists and Bass Players are the best! GO TEAM!

  3. Carrie permalink
    October 11, 2010 8:11 am

    This is a nice synopsis. We should make a book together- you know how I love to make books. We just need to scan some old pictures. Do you think you can get your hands on some for each band? Milo and your Mom and Dad would love it.

    • October 11, 2010 10:47 pm

      I would really have to ask around and dig to find any pictures, if they exist …

      • khm permalink
        November 5, 2010 3:54 pm

        god knows there was an age when you had very well articulated desires to be photographed. I’m sure a modest family effort would do the trick.

    • khm permalink
      November 5, 2010 3:53 pm

      Capital idea, Carrie! When my kiddles were smaller I found myself wanting to make lots of books, too.

  4. Kelley M. permalink
    October 14, 2010 5:49 am

    Glad to see cuz is still busy and rocking… Will be following to keep updated. And Mary is biased…

    • khm permalink
      November 5, 2010 4:00 pm

      I’m not so sure Mary IS biased. Drummers, bassists, pianists… their rhythmic instincts? Well: those can act out in other ways. Similarly, if you don’t already know, bari horn players and trombonists can translate the embouchures for maximum appeal.

      In case you wanted to know 🙂

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