Last night I played bass with a "band" for the first time since May of 2002. Outside of playing on a few recordings with my old band (for which I played guitar and never found a suitable bassist), I'd hardly touched the thing in seven years. It turns out that I'm still somewhat capable. Playing with two superb musicians certainly helped. It was also the first time I had played with my good friend Max since that last L.A. show in 2002.
The studio had the appearance of a run down wreck. A sign posted on peeling drywall spoke of renovations to bring the place from "your last resort to your first choice". No matter - the gear was actually quite good for a rehearsal studio. At one point Max was extolling the virtues of my Les Paul (he didn't have a guitar in NYC, so I brought mine), prompting Alan to ask, "Are you mad at it?"
Anyway, Alan had not even heard the songs before. So Max took out his little internet/phone gadget and played the songs streaming live from his website. Pretty high tech. But the phone isn't too loud, so he held it up to a microphone and played it over the PA. Pretty low tech.
So what were we playing? Max has a new project, Max and the Marginalized where he writes a topical song every week and posts it up as a political blog entry on The Huffington Post. It's more of a band now, since he has two other guys in California that he plays and tours with. The songs have Max's typical tight arrangements and sharp lyrics along with his signature style of guitar abuse. We worked on three of those: Rope (a semi-straight up hardcore tune about the glorification of lynchings in the South), Free Evenings and Weekends (a jaunty tune about the complicity of phone companies in illegal wiretapping practices), and Hounds (I had never tried playing reggae before, but I can see why people like it).
So what were Alan and I doing there? We're sort of the East Coast ringers. If there's some shows over here and not a full tour for the West Coast band to come on, maybe we'll play those. It feels good to be playing music again, especially on great songs that have something to say. But more than anything it was a hell of a lot of fun.