I recently played a gig subbing for an ailing Tim Shia with his group, "Worst Pop Band Ever". It's a great band including Adrean Farrugia – Piano, Chris Gale – Sax Dafydd Hughes – Keys, and a dear friend I met at McGill many moons ago, Drew Birston on bass. Now, I wasn't super familiar with their repertoire but I also knew they were a strong enough unit that they would be able to play with whatever I was doing and accept it. So, we get to the first tune, it's counted off, and we begin to play. What happened next was incredible. From behind me (where Drew was set up with his bass and amp) there was this beautiful sound, feel and energy. From note one (both literally and figuratively) Drew had my back. Everything i played was so supported and complimented. Drew and I have played a lot in the past, but for the last 15 years or so, have ran in slightly different musical crowds. So, getting to play with him again was like returning to a super comfortable home I had forgotten I had lived in! I was just blown away!
What created this feeling? Well, as I mentioned before, Drew has a great sound that compliments as well as provides bottom and foundation for any band he plays in. He also has great time, that he takes complete responsibility for, thus making it very easy for a drummer to play with him. He has great taste, and always provides the music with just what it needs. Above all , he is always LISTENING!
All this adds up to a musical relationship between he and I that can withstand long absences, yet still grow and improve as we both gain more experience and knowledge. I am fortunate to play with many talented, team-player type bassists, but sometimes it takes these long absences for me to appreciate how special these relationships are, and how lucky I am to have them. The really cool thing is that anyone who is willing to study, listen, practice etc. can also have these relationships, and they are one of the great rewards of being a musician!
To conclude, I'm embedding a couple of instructional videos that Drew did for one of his many projects, Sultans of String. It not only provides some great information on the acoustic and electric bass, but is also a glimpse into his unpretentious manner and sweet personality. :)