Confessions of a Sideman:
My First Gig With Bryndle
The Base Basic Basis of a Bassist
A Brief History
Fast forward a couple of weeks. I come home to a blinking Code-a-Phone light (Oh, the promise implied! Oh happy LED!) "Hello, Matt, this is Kenny Edwards..." Woh, DUDE! I know who that guy is! "We've got a little band together, and we're looking for a bass player. The engineer you were working with last week referred you..."
Bass player? Why me? The closest thing to a bass anyone in this town had ever seen me with was caught off of a charter boat near Santa Barbara and ended up as curry. Well, if there's one thing I've learned from however many years of living in this musical viper's nest they call El Lay, it's that when someone calls to offer you a gig you say yes first, and then figure out if you can pull it off. "Bass?" I said, "Sure! I LOVE the bass! Never get enough! Anything more than four strings is a shameful waste. Notes in the treble clef are best played to dogs! I live for the bass!"
That afternoon I found a cassette at my apartment door. "Bryndle", it read. I popped it in. Hmm. Cool. Nice stuff. Sounded almost familiar. I know those voices from somewhere... I listened to the tape and made a note to call Kenny back the next day. A note that was promptly buried under a stack of old newspapers and "Mailbox Valu-Coupons" never to be seen again. It was several days later that I managed to get Kenny's number back from the engineer and leave him a message: "Great! When do we start?"
Later that week I was at the Village Recorders in West LA working on singer/songwriter Phil Cody's album. Also on the date was former Brother Figaro and noted multi-instrumentalist Bill Bonk. "...and then we're going to Japan for two weeks..." I caught the tail end of his discourse. "...they're amazing songwriters..." I heard the gongs of foreboding clang in my head as I asked the name of the band... Bryndle. Of course.
Fast forward: one year. Wandering aimlessly from gig to gig, writing a cartoon here, doing a musical score there... roaming the earth bemoaning my lost opportunity. I could have played with Wendy Waldman. I might have harmonized with Karla Bonoff. Oh, that I might have faked bass behind Kenny Edwards! I could have talked Beatles with Andrew Gold! What a bummer. Then came the mighty email:
I'm playing with Aimee Mann until May and may need help covering
some gigs. I gave Wendy your email address.
Subject: Information That Will Influence Your Summer
And so it began. An email (from Kenny). A phone call. A CD this time. A quick tryout at Wendy's house (where it became quite apparent, at least to me, that faking the bass wouldn't fly around these parts). Much to my surprise, I got the call from Kenny: "You're in."
A week of rehearsal. Was introduced to Karla, Scott and Andrew. Met Mason (Unabomber) Wilkinson, Bryndle's road manager. Met manager Jeff Heiman. Borrowed Kenny's excellent '64 Fender Jazz bass. Drove up to the first date-- the Strawberry Festival in Ojai, CA.
I'm playing with Aimee Mann until May and may need help covering some gigs. I gave Wendy your email address.
At least so far...
To be continued...
(second from right)
Onstage for the first time with Kenny, Wendy and Karla
at the Strawberry Festival
May 16th, 1996
Photo by Jena Hendrix