Bass Strummit in 2010

Mountain Heart bassist Jason MooreWe posted yesterday about ResoSummit, a three-day clinic for resophonic guitarists. Similar events for banjo, fiddle, mandolin and guitar have been held for years but co-host Rob Ickes felt the need to create something for his reso-buddies as well.

Also neglected in this area are upright bass players, the unsung heroes of the bluegrass band. A new event scheduled for January 2, 2010 is a step towards remedying that, starting with a one-day workshop in Roanoke, VA.

Billed as the Bass Strummit, it will feature instruction from Jason Moore, the celebrated bassist with Mountain Heart, assisted by co-host Mike Conner, along with instrument set up tips from bass repair specialist, Jerry Fretwell. Conner tells us that they are starting small, but have plans to expand if the first Strummit is successful.

“We can take up to 20 students in January. If this one goes well, we’re probably going to schedule something quarterly in different regions of the country, like DC, Nashville, and the northeast.”

Moore tells us that they will cover basics like left and right hand technique, practice habits, tuning and pitch, instrument setup plus more advanced skills like percussive sounds and hand positioning for certain tones and effects. He was also unwilling to accept credit for inventing something new.

“I don’t know of an all bass event being held before, but I am sure somebody has done it. There is no way Mike and I have come up with a new concept. : )

I really haven’t been teaching long but I do enjoy it. It has made me look at what I do instead of just doing it. I never really paid attention to myself until I had to explain something. It has made me a better musician and it is always good to have your bass in your hands.”

Jason did, however, credit Mike Conner with the idea for the Bass Strummit. Conner is the promoter for FiddleFest, an annual two day festival on the campus of Hollins University, near Roanoke.

“Mike was instrumental in this. I started giving lessons a while back, and after Mountain Heart played the Fiddlefest in Roanoke, Mike asked me about lessons. I told him to just come down to the house and we would see what we could do. He worked it out to be here all day and we covered a lot of ground. He did well and said he had an idea to try to get more people involved in the learning process. One thing led to another and here we are.

I consider this a great opportunity for myself. If I can help one person get better at something they enjoy, I have done something important. Music is a gift and I along with a lot of other people tend to forget that and turn it into a job. That is not always a good thing.

Music is meant to be enjoyed and if I can help people get more enjoyment out of it, I feel very good about that.

Many thanks to Mike for all of the leg work too. He is the best, and is a good bass player in his own right.”

The site is Mill Mountain Theater Atelier, an historic restored hotel in downtown Roanoke. Registration and accomodation details can be found online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.