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Here in Spain when I go out to play live I'm known better by my stage name of Terry Roberts. I've been in and out of several bands since I've been here and equally many bands back in the UK going right back to my schooldays in North London.
You could say I've been around a bit and that'd be true - I certainly have a fair bit of experience under my belt playing both guitar and bass in many different styles and in quiet a few different bands.
Below, I'll take an individual look at the three main styles of playing that I tend to incorprorate in my fairly long although not unfortunately famous career (if you can call it a career - more like a fun hobby, really!)
I'm not just a pretty face!
I'm also a musician offline and play in both a blues band and a rock covers band here on the Costa del Sol in Southern Spain.
My main instrument is the guitar, although I generally tend to pick up more live work playing bass, which is what I'm well known for here in Spain. My vocal talents are pretty fair as well, so I'm a decent backing harmony vocalist as well as a lead vocalist when I need to be.
In the current blues band I'm in, the "Tinshack Blues Band" (see photo below), which has been up and running since the 1st June this year I play bass and handle the lead vocals too, which is quite a rare thing amongst bassists - most tend to be so busy they can't double up and sing and play at the same time. Of course some can, lets not forget some of the very high profile lead singing bass guitarists that we've had the pleasure of both in the past and in more modern times.
Jack Bruce from Cream is a very well known bassist-vocalist as is Paul McCartney (so many people tend to forget he played bass!).
The incredible vocal acrobatics of Geddy Lee (Rush) were perfectly matched with his incredible bass playing in the Canadian three piece outfit.
More recently there is Mark King from level 42 - one of the truly innovative bassists who held his own as the band's lead singer too.
That's just naming a few - there are plenty more!
But for my own part, I find playing bass and singling only slightly more difficult than playing guitar and singing - often it comes down to the complexity of the song.
With blues, the bass can hold on the root while I sing, or I can walk up and down the blues scale while singing. It doesn't faze me at all as I tend to play those types of bass line on auto-pilot while concentrating more on what I'm singing.
I'm also in a four piece rock band called "So Far So Good" that plays every Tuesday night in a bar in La Cala de Mijas, playing bass with backing vocals. This is a a lot of fun as well and gives me the chance to play several different styles between the two bands.
Update 2014: Still playing and gigging in a band I've been the lead vocalist and bassist for since 2010 called Karma. You can check out our video below and also have a look at a related website here: http://webmusicstar.com where the band has its site tacked on at: http://webmusicstar.com/karma
Latest Live Appearance by Me and the Band
Music in Motion
Acoustic guitar for me is a real pleasure to sit down and play and sing along some of my favourite songs, or songs that I wrote myself. There's plenty of them - in my many years as a musician I've written around 200 songs more or less (I never made an exact count).
Just over a year ago, I was playing solo in a little bar near to home. Just me and my electro-acoustic. No backing discs or accompaniment of any kind - that's something I look upon as cheating and not what you'd call truly LIVE music, because when a big part of your musical accompaniment is coming from a CD, then its not live, it?
Well, my own solo set included a lot of numbers that are pretty well known but would never have suited a solo acoustic guitar and lone vocalist, so I modified them quite a bit to fit my style. It went down very well and I got quite a good regular clientelle visit the bar each week I was on. I'm not blowing my own trumpet too loudly here - I don'¡t rate myself that highly and I know I'm no perfectionist when it comes to performance.
Well, I believe a live performance should be about producing good music with passion and life, not over produced perfectionism that lacks any kind of soul that seems to clog up the radio ariways these days. I love playing live, mistakes and all if it means I can put my own heart and soul into what I'm playing. People in the audience pick up on your own vibe, so if you're playing and singing with passion and to hell with making sure every note is in the right place, then they're going to have a much more enjoyable experience.
Well, thats my own feelings on live music, anyway.
Keep it live!
Oh, yes - I've had some of my most enjoyable times spent playing lead guitar in a number of rock and even heavy metal bands in the past!
One band I joined around 1990 was called Steel Grey (oooh yuk!) and while pretty basic to begin with, got better over time as we started writing our own material. There were two guitars, myself and Phil, a young feller from the emerald isle. He learned fast and was getting better all the time. The bassist Vince, was the band's originator and I think he styled himself a bit on Iron Maiden's Steve Harris! The original drummer was not really up to it and left soon after along with the original singer. My brother Dave came in on drums and transformed the band's sound. He's an ace drummer by the way! We got a new singer called Tim and the band went out and started playing local gigs in London.
All was ok, except I wasn't that happy playing with a two guitar set up. The main problem was that Phil didn't read the song well enough and failed to drop his volume when I solo'd. A guy on an SG banging out power chords at full volume sort of drowns out a guy on a Strat trying to play melodic and inventive solos! It was never a problem the other way around as I had the experience and the ear to know when he was soloing and I always dropped my own volume, do you can imagine how irritating it could be.
Since then and to this day, I've never liked working in a band with two guitars even when I'm on bass - I've come to the conclusion that guitarists have egos that are way too big and there just isn't enough room in any band for two egos that big!
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and the band split about a year later with personality clashes etc. With a choice of musical instruments to play professionally now, I switched back to bass and joined a 5 piece rock covers band who were gigging regularly around east London and Essex called Diamonds and Rust, which was also my first experience with a female vocalist. But that's another story...
Back on guitar here in Spain, I started teaching both guitar and bass at The Music Factory, a private music school in Fuengirola. I also teamed up with another bassist, Steve Silva and drummer John Lloyd and formed a great rock three piece outfit which we named Dutch Courage and played a few small gigs which was immensely satisfying, being able to play lead/rhythm guitar and lead vocals. There's nothing quite like it and it suits my musical character which has a great affinity with being front of stage and taking the lead!
Now there's a story attached to the name Dutch Courage as its not a new thing.
Back in the late 70s I was a member of the original Dutch Courage,a five piece rock/soul band that gigged around London back then. Of course I was still a teenager but it was a lot of fun and we played one or two bigger venues, like the Ruskin Arms in East Ham (that of Iron Maiden fame) and the Royal Standard in Walthamstow (a venue used by many bands both before and after they were famous). After we disbanded in 1979 I found out that another band had taken the name. Nothing to do with us, of course...
So I rightfully claimed the right to use the name Dutch Courage for my band here in Spain. The great shame was that Steve had to return to England and the band dissolved.