Bubala, Mumi & Max

Sunday, June 04, 2006

An Evening With World's Greatest Bass Player

Tony Levin BandOn Friday night, we went to the Ram's Head Tavern in Annapolis to see the Tony Levin Band. Tony Levin might just be the world's best bass player. Yeah, I know we all have our favorites and could say that about a lot of bass players. Only, in Tony's case, so many people around the world feel the same way as I do, and he is in such constant demand to play on so many people's records that it could just be true. In fact,if you have bought any records at all in the last 30 years, then chances are that you have heard him playing bass somewhere in your collection. Here is a discography if you want to see for yourself. He only started keeping track of his recordings about 10-15 years ago though, and a lot of the recordings have gone out of print. Tony is primarily a session player, but he is also noted for his permanent spot in Peter Gabriel's band and with King Crimson. He is not only a bass player, but he is also known for his work with the Chapman Stick and he plays cello, piano, tuba, sings barbershop quartet, takes a lot of photographs, writes and publishes his own books, paints, and runs his own record company called Papa Bear Records.

Playing Bass
This was the second time for us seeing the band on their current tour for his newest album, "Resonator." The first show was about a month ago at Jaxx in Springfield, Virginia. Then, in a few weeks, we will go up to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and catch him open up this years NEARFEST which should be a great weekend of Prog Rock for us old geezers. The Tony Levin Band comes pretty much from Peter Gabriel's 70s/early 80's band. The band is made up of drummer Jerry Marotta who has worked with people like Paul McCartney and Suzanne Vega, keyboardist Larry Fast who is known for his Synergy electronic music, keyboardist Pete Levin (Tony's Brother) who is a session player as well and guitarist Jesse Gress who plays in Todd Rundgren's band when he's not driving for The New Cars. With the exception of Larry, all of the band members come from Woodstock, New York.

Funk Fingers

Things You Should Know About Tony Levin:
  1. He is the master of the bottom end.
  2. He worked on the last John Lennon recording sessions.
  3. He is a biker.
  4. He was the co-inventor of Funk Fingers. While working on the Peter Gabriel song "Big Time", Tony and Jerry Marotta came up with a playing style where Tony would finger the notes on the bass neck and Jerry would hit the strings with drumsticks. Since this was a very effective playing style, Tony modified it some and cut a couple of drumsticks in half and velcroed them onto his fingers. After a few more minor modifications, Funk Fingers were born, and Tony manufactured them and sold a bunch on his Website. But, now they are all sold out. Occasionally, you can find them on Ebay for some $$$.
  5. His dog Lilly thinks that he is a god.
  6. He really loves espresso.
  7. He taught me everything I needed to know about hairstyles.

Will the real Tony Levin please stand up...

Here is a set list from the Ram's Head show:

Tony Levin Band Barber Shop Quartet
Pieces Of The Sun
Break It Down
Sabre Dance (A rocking reworking of the classic)
What Would Jimi Do?
Shadow land
Sleepless (King Crimson song)
Belle
Beyond My Reach
Places To Go
Crisis Of Faith
Phobos (a TLB version of the Synergy piece)
Utopia
Back In NYC (the classic Gabriel/Genesis tune)
Fragile As A Song
On The Air (Peter Gabriel song)
Elephant Talk (King Crimson song)
Don’t Give Up - barbershop quartet version (Peter Gabriel song)

Playing Cello

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