Send a Message to Kelly Marsh

The Kelly Marsh Homepage

My 5 string fretless...and apparently my right foot...

Back again! :)

I was born in 1958, so I guess that makes me an old fart to many of you out there.

For you gear heads, let me get this out of the way, and spare you the trouble of reading further. My main bass is a Godin BG-V. My secondary bass is the lined fretless you see pictured here. On both basses I use a high C, instead of a low B. I find this allows me to play normally, while getting the higher notes without changing hand position. It's also great for double stops.

My main bass rig these days is a Hartke Kickback 12, which of course I run through the PA. My "bullet proof" rig, which I use for outdoor gigs and the like, consists of a GK800RB, supplemented by a BBE unit (I can't remember the model number, it's the many years old mono unit), run through a Sunn 1812. (18 for the bottom end, 12 for the top) I know Sunn stuff isn't exactly fashionable, but it's worked for me for many years; give me a break, huh?

I recently bought a new Samson Airline wireless for my bass; really cool, runs on an AAA battery, is UHF, and is louder than my old one. I also use an AKG wireless headset unit for my vocals. Well, that's about it. Gear Heads, tune out. (Well, after the pics, that is)

I always knew Id Hit the Bigtime! Me at a local watering hole. Oh, and I'm not really this shade of pasty green.

My Godin BG-V Main Bass.

My Regal Dobro Bass.

My Fender Mutt w/ EMG PJs, Wilkinson 5 String Conversion, Hipshot Drop-D Tuner, and (anonymous) Mahogany, Padauk, and Maple body. Really heavy, and an absolute sustain Monster! It was what first caused me to buy a volume pedal, so I could end at the same time as the other guys when the tune ended with a sustaining note. Oh, and by the way, If you want really pretty tortoise celluloid, buy WD. For some reason, which I cannot fathom, their stuff is consistently the best. And Wendy, who is the "W" in WD is a hoot! The "Smear" on the upper horn is Bobby Bare's signature, from when I played with him in 1990. It is still actually quite clear, on the bass.

The Rest

For the rest of you who are really interested...I started taking piano lessons when I was three, and have played piano ever since, so I've always played piano, as far as I can remember.

I started playing brass in the fourth grade, in a private school under a very strict teacher who was a Russian Jew, and who claimed to have been forced during the war to be Hitler's private violinist.

Not exactly Mother Theresa, but a very good player who got results from his students. (Also, there is the factor that corporal punishment was allowed in those days, and he was pretty scary at times)

I picked up guitar the summer before my sophomore year in high school. I guess I really upset some people at that time. I was working at this camp, and that was back in the days of hippies, and singing around the campfire, and all that. I had been somewhat interested in playing the guitar before that, but couldn't afford one myself, and hadn't pestered my parents enough to get them to buy me one at that point.

I got somebody to loan me a guitar, and got a few pointers from a couple of the people there, and pretty soon began bringing the guitar to the campfires. Soon after some of the others stopped bringing theirs, which puzzled me until several years later, when a friend who had also worked at the camp finally told me it was because they were upset with me. When I asked him why, he told me that it was because many of them had been playing for years, and I had surpassed them in ability in a couple of weeks.

After I got to high school, I soon began playing the bass in that school's version of a jazz ensemble. As by that time I had been playing tuba for several years, it came pretty naturally to me. I played bass (and tuba)throughout High School.

I went to college briefly and played tuba there as well, but as I didn't want to be a music teacher, or a symphony orchestra player, or something like that, I didn't stick with it, and soon dropped out. I've always regretted that.

Soon after, I got some (primitive, can you say Mini Moog?) keyboards, and began playing in a fusion band. This band had the unusual distinction of having two keyboard players. I was into all the ELP, Yes etc. stuff back then. We were pretty terrible at first, but soon hooked up with some actual players, and wound up recording several albums worth of material, and played the Paramount Theater in Seattle, which was a pretty big deal back then. Well, soon after that, the band decided to go on vacation, as we had worked very hard for that gig. We're still on vacation; maybe I should call those guys

For a while after that, I pretty much forgot I was a musician, until I was at a party at the house of a high school friend of my (then)wife. Her husband to be was a drummer, and he and this guitar player kept saying to each other "I wonder when Paully's gonna get here?" When I asked them who "Paully" was, they said he was a bass player, and that they were going to jam.

I told them I played, but they blew me off, at least at first. Finally, after an hour or so of this, I said "Give me the damned bass", and they, reluctantly, did. We played for several hours, and I'm sure it was horrible, but we were the hit of the party.

Soon after the drummer booked us at a local Naval base, mainly because he didn't know any better; we weren't near good enough for an actual gig. I thought we were gonna get killed, but the Navy boys actually liked us, and we kept that gig for some time.

Well, that band went on for a number of years after that,through several incarnations, and became fairly successful, on a local level.

The things I learned from that band are priceless to me. I learned how to be diplomatic with club owners, drunk patrons, and how to deal with large crowds. I also learned the fundamentals of my own playing from what many of you may think is an unlikely source: a local steel and electric guitar player by the name of Pat Rowe, whom I stood next to on the stage for many years, and who is still one of my heroes.

He was very much more experienced than the rest of us when he joined the band; I still have no idea why he joined in the first place, but I'm glad he did. I learned much more from his quiet, patient tutelidge and his playing than I had in all those years of music lessons and school.

I learned from him that in order to play in a band, every player must listen to every other player, and play his part in a way and with the desire to make all the other players sound good. If he wants to play in a good band, he has to do his part to make that band good, and that is not by being the star, that is by making all his bandmates sound as good as he can. If everyone in a band adheres to that philosophy, if you are a four piece band, you've got three other players trying to make you sound good. Everyone in the band does. That's a lot better than every man for himself, in fact it's three times better!

Well eventually that band broke up, as they all seem to do, and I found myself at loose ends. Soon, however, I found myself getting calls to sub for other players, and so began my career as a sideman. I did this for several years, often keeping busier than I wanted to be.

This culminated in a house band gig I kept for quite awhile, and was the single greatest factor in the training of my ear in my entire life.

One of my former bandmates was the bandleader for this local theater, which as I recall, they called the "Auburn Opry" This was a full production theater; you would expect them to put on fairly large production plays there.

What they did there, instead, was run twenty or thirty singers through every Saturday night; each would do two or three songs. The catch was, we'd get a tape on Thursday, have a partial rehearsal (sometimes) on Friday, and do the full show on Saturday.

The gal that ran the place always demanded that we smile, always. I still remember looking at my buddy, and asking through the clenched teeth of a big smile "Where the hell are we?" (I know that in an answer to another person's question, I said we did the show on Friday as well, instead of the rehearsal, sorry. This little trip down memory lane has refreshed my memory. It was a lot of years ago.)

Anyway, this was truly a trial by fire, sink or swim situation, and I'm happy to report I swam and didn't get burned.

After that gig ended, I did some more sideman stuff, and played in a few more bands along the way.

Then I joined the band I am currently in, and have been for the last fifteen years. With this band, I am the bass player, the principal harmony singer, the music director, and the sound man.

We initially started as a country band, as country was quite popular around here at the time, but now are a "Variety Dance Band", by which I mean if it is a 20th century American dance beat, we play it. (excluding rap- I'm talking about actual music) Rock, Country, Reggae, Blues, Cha Cha, Funk, Waltz, R&B, Swing, and everything else I forget at this point.

Along the way, I've backed Bobby Bare and Patsy Sledd. (a few of you other old farts might know who I'm talking about)

I've also backed a few almost was's, like Johnny Counterfeit. (If you get a chance to check his act, do. He's a musical impressionist, and he's a hoot!)

I've also recorded, as a session player, many albums along the way, mostly for hopefuls, and mostly things I would never care to play for you, not because of bad playing, but because they were recorded at the studio of the lowest bidder. Ask me sometime, and I'll tell you why that is bad.

I also do all my own repairs and maintenance, always have, always will

Oh, and a few years ago, I was in the presence of true greatness. I was at the NAMM show, and a guy I knew at Dean Markley introduced me to T.M. Stevens, Will Lee, a few other guys who are famous, but the coolest thing was I got introduced to Chuck Rainey. Chuck is as much the father of motown bass playing as James Jamerson; I guess since he's a nice guy wihout a lot of problems he doesn't get a lot of press. Anyway, Chuck's a great guy, and well worth knowing.

Well for those of you you that wanted to know "what I am about", all I can say is "Be careful; sometimes you get what you wish for" Let me also add: I believe in my opinions strongly; I also don't form them without a lot of thought and/or experience. I also am willing to learn from anyone with an opinion which proves to be more valid than mine.

Kelly

P.S. This will be new to many of you out there, and I haven't mentioned it before because I didn't want to get the inevitable requests for freebies and so on from some of the less scrupulous people who frequent sites such as these. But now that I am retired from the industry, I can say that I spent many years as the buyer for a major chain of music stores. I worked my way up from a sales position to upper management in the company, and along the way did just about everything that needs to be done in such a corporation, from instrument repairs to piano moving, delivery truck driving, warehouse management, and so on. Oh, and I also hooked Patrick Pfeiffer up with Hal Leonard Publications for his first deal with a major publisher. At the time I asked him not to say anything, for the same reasons I listed above. If you don't believe me, ask him, or just look in the "thanks" section of his last two books. :) So, if I seem opinionated and sure of myself at times, it is because of my background.

I've also gotten some feedback (read "crap") about the "In My Own Little Corner.." thing. I'm going to stand by it. I was only about three at the time, and I was struck by the fact that the chord progression started on the one, then went down a whole step, instead of going up to the five where it "should" have gone. Although at the time I had no concept of scale degrees, or intervals, I still wondered "Can they do that? I have never forgotten that moment of revelation, and I am not ashamed to admit it.

In addition to the stuff listed below, I also like the Bulgarian Womens' Choir, Queen, Alice Cooper, The Andrews Sisters, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, The Hellecasters, Jethro Tull...

Musical Influences

  • Eclectic- Classical to the present
  • Anything I hear, no matter what the instrument
  • The first thing that caught my attention was Rodgers and Hammerstein, "In My Own Little Corner in My Own Little Chair"

Favorite Recordings

  • Almost any ELP, except "Love Beach"
  • Chopin Preludes
  • Most Pink Floyd, Paul Simon, Lots of other stuff.