Great American Vintage BassFest at SPBGMA 2024

This report is a contribution from Alan Tompkins with the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation in Dallas, TX. It originally appeared on their web site.

The Bluegrass Heritage Foundation was proud to help facilitate a friendly, educational gathering for players and collectors of vintage American upright basses such as Kay, American Standard, King, Alcoa, Gibson, and Epiphone at the annual SPBGMA (Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America) Convention at the Sheraton Music City Hotel in Nashville on Friday, January 26, 2024.  Alan TompkinsKyle Perkins, and James Condino worked together to coordinate the gathering, with generous assistance from SPBGMA. 

While players of other bluegrass instruments easily carry their instruments (often more than one) to a festival or on a plane, bass players don’t have that luxury because of the large size of the instrument. The opportunity to play, examine, and compare great basses side-by-side was a rare treat.

Dozens of basses were on display around the Evergreen Room at the Sheraton all afternoon, including rare 1930s Alcoa aluminum basses from the collections of James Condino, John Fogleman, and Alan Tompkins (one polished, one with painted woodgrain finish, and one with original clear-coat finish). 

Several excellent American Standards from the 1930s (including serial #23 from 1936) were available for inspection, courtesy of players and collectors including Russell Rollo, Kyle Perkins, James Condino, Alan Tompkins, Wes Horton, and “Superman” Kent Blanton. The room was crowded all afternoon, with prominent musicians including Mike Bub, Mickey Harris, C.J. Lewandowski, Jasper Lorentzen, Clay Hess, Lenny Nichols, Liz Patton, Gerald Jones, and Zach McLamb stopping by to enjoy the glorious world of the bass clef.  

Plans are in the works for a Second Inaugural Annual Great American Vintage BassFest at SPBGMA Nashville in January 2025, so plan to join us.