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FDP Forum / Fender Bass Guitars and Bass Amps / Any Phil Lesh fans here? yes? no?

digiboy

New York City

Jul 22nd, 2016 06:51 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I was a Dead fan back in the 60's 70's but not much beyond, not a serious Deadhead.

I got hired to sub for a gig with a local popular Dead cover band. I told them up front I'm not gonna sound much like Phil Lesh, they say that's OK.

Studying the tunes I have to admit I've gained some new respect for them and for Phil. Rhythmically and melodically, he breaks many of the "bass rules" I subscribe to...but it somehow works.

There are some things I can do to try to emulate Phil here and there. I'm used to more of a P bass sound but my current main axe is a Dano. I think I can tweak the tone on it reasonably close to his, but it ain't no Alembic. His playing style is so unique, I'll be lucky if I can get any of it. Not difficult, just very unusual.

He does favor the major 3rd and the higher octave a lot. I'm working on it. I do love some of these tunes so I'm enjoying it.

Anybody else doin the Dead thing on bass?

(This message was last edited by digiboy at 03:38 AM, Jul 23rd, 2016)

digiboy

New York City

Jul 25th, 2016 11:42 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Wow... I guess no love for Phil Lesh. No one want's to even chime in and dis' him?

I always thought of his bass style as being controversial if nothing else.

James Jamerson and his disciples are my biggest inspiration. Him and McCartney. I never "got" Lesh but I respect that he makes what he does work.

JackL
Contributing Member
**********

Chico CA

If you rest, you rust.
Jul 25th, 2016 01:01 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I agree that Phil "breaks" the conventional rules of bass playing in a rock band, but his style is so integral to the band - just as is JG's guitar style - that it wouldn't be the same with someone else.

Last year I subbed for six months in a "deadgrass" band doing only GD or Jerry band songs. Of course, that's a heck of a lot of songs from which to choose. Bluegrass ala the Dead! The tunes often led to jamming/improv, but trying to emulate the Lesh approach on upright was not happening...had a great time tho!

Taildragger
Contributing Member
********

USA

"bald to the bone"
Jul 25th, 2016 01:11 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I've never really given Lesh a fair hearing because, a couple of songs excepted, I have a really hard time listening to the rest of the band. The vocals and guitar phrasing are just not my cup of tea.

As far as that era/genre goes, I'd much prefer to listen to Jack Casady and The Airplane.


digiboy

New York City

Jul 25th, 2016 02:09 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"Bluegrass ala the Dead!" Yeah I would think trying emulate Lesh on an upright would be very tough, but I'll bet it could be done. An electric upright in the right hands, might sound pretty good.

I have a background in bluegrass too, but only on bass guitar. I see traces of bluegrass in the chord progressions of some Dead tunes. Not in the rhythm or feel, but in the way the chord changes sometimes take unexpected twists from where you might expect. That's the fun of some of the more challenging bluegrass tunes.

Taildragger
Contributing Member
********

USA

"bald to the bone"
Jul 25th, 2016 02:31 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I think Garcia was big into jug band music before the Dead formed, wasn't he?

JackL
Contributing Member
**********

Chico CA

If you rest, you rust.
Jul 25th, 2016 03:30 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Yes he was, as well as being a banjo player...Old and In the Way was a formidable bluegrass band in its day.

Raymundo2.0
Contributing Member
*****

USA/Nashville

Jul 26th, 2016 12:47 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

A fan, yes. Any takeaways for my own playing, not really.

As others have mentioned he doesn't adhere to a lot of conventional bass playing ideas.

My teacher was of the opinion that part of what made his style work was really good PA support.

For Jack Casady fans, the Country Joe and the Fish Live Fillmore 1969 album is a must have. Terrific jamming with a bunch of bay area musicians including JG and Mickey Hart from the Dead.

Taildragger
Contributing Member
********

USA

"bald to the bone"
Jul 26th, 2016 01:12 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I saw Casady sit in with the Hendrix Experience at Winterland around October of '68 (if memory serves).

THAT was pretty interesting.

Like so:

digiboy

New York City

Jul 26th, 2016 04:06 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I play in another group where we do Hot Tuna's "99 Year Blues". It's kind of an open ended 1 chord jam with some shifts in the rhythmic feel. I don't think we've ever played it the same way twice but it always seems to work and goes over well. Jack Casady is really the driving force behind the original. Fun to play.

I don't hear much similarity between Casady and Phil Lesh. Casady has much more rhythmic energy in his playing. Lesh certainly plays in time but rarely provides as much drive and groove. It's fun to try and cop his style. I'm a very melodic player too but he really goes places I would never think of.

Taildragger
Contributing Member
********

USA

"bald to the bone"
Jul 26th, 2016 04:46 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Sorry, digiboy: didn't mean to sorta hijack your Lesh thread in a Casady direction!

digiboy

New York City

Jul 26th, 2016 05:07 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

's OK Td. I mean the gotta be about the same vintage and there are definitely many parallels between both of them and their history coming from that west coast scene.

I certainly have learned more about Phil Lesh's playing in the last few days of studying Dead tunes than I ever knew before. For example, at jams I have always found Franklin's Tower to be one of the most boring, coma inducing tunes for bass. Have to admit I never listened all that carefully to the Dead versions. Lesh actually does some gorgeous playing on it, very funky in fact and much tighter than I expected. Worth a listen.

Taildragger
Contributing Member
********

USA

"bald to the bone"
Jul 26th, 2016 09:05 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

FWIW (or isn't)...these two are GD songs I've always liked, though I can't exactly explain why (could be something as simple as being linked to a nostalgic memory of some now-forgotten event).

This first one usually seems to be played at a much slower tempo in later, live recordings, which I don't particularly car for.

"Cold Rain & Snow"

Taildragger
Contributing Member
********

USA

"bald to the bone"
Jul 26th, 2016 09:09 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

This is the other. Again, I can't say why I like these two when most other GD songs don't really do anything for me.

"China Cat Sunflower"

Taildragger
Contributing Member
********

USA

"bald to the bone"
Jul 26th, 2016 09:24 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

One more older one.

"St. Stephen"

dg27

Long Island City, NY

Jul 27th, 2016 04:03 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Not a GD/Lesh fan at all, but have always been a big JC fan.

Taildragger
Contributing Member
********

USA

"bald to the bone"
Jul 29th, 2016 02:59 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

dg27,

Then you might enjoy...

...this:

Deep

K..K...K...Katmandu!

That's really really where I'm from!
Jul 31st, 2016 11:32 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

To cop Phil Lesh play with a plectrum. Using a pick helps to get considerably close to his tone. He almost always plays with a pick.

I play some of the tunes mentioned above on my P-bass with flatwounds thru an Ampeg SVT sim in Apple's Garageband with a pick and can get very close to Blues for Allah tones.

zeprin
Contributing Member
**********
**

These days Common

Sense Is A Superpower
Aug 3rd, 2016 10:42 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

As a classically trained musician with an interest in Jazz, Lesh had never played bass before joining the GD.
Strange things happen in the muzic biz.

z


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