Randy “Grazy” Gray

One-on-one conversation with the man who organized the first-ever Canadian Rockies Bass Bash!

Exclusive interview with FBPO’s Jon Liebman
April 5, 2010

Randy Gray is the founder and organizer of the Canadian Rockies Bass Bash.

FBPO: How did you develop your passion for the bass?

RG: In my family, it was work and school, with no time for anything else. I always had an ear for music and was always being told to turn it off when I was working. I played a little stand-up bass in junior high school and high school in various music programs, but not much. I always liked music that had a lot of bass and seemed to be able to hear bass lines in songs where other people couldn’t. It just seemed to jump out at me.

I got out of school and joined the army. Even then, I was always listening to Motown and funk and some rock, too. The more “low end,” the better. After discovering the Funk Brothers, I became even more bass crazy – James Jamerson, Bobby Babbitt, George Porter, Jr…well you know the story.

The day of reckoning was about ten years ago, when one of my best friends, Dwayne Keen, handed me his homemade Jack Daniels bass and told me to take it home and fool around with it. Well, that was it! I taught myself how to read tab, then how to play a few songs, and that led to what I am doing today, organizing events like The Canadian Rockies Bass Bash.

FBPO: What led to your organizing the Canadian Rockies Bass Bash?

RG: I had really gotten into the bass and one day I heard about a Bass Bash in Montana that Geno Kreis was organizing. I thought it was the coolest thing I ever heard of. Just the concept of being able to see some amazing bass players all in one day in one location! I told a friend about it and we drove the eight and-a-half hours to Bozeman and had a great time! That is actually where I met Benny Rietveld, the first guy I called to perform in my Bash. After having so much fun, I began to look for similar events in Canada, but couldn’t find any and was a little baffled as to why. I learned there was a smattering of bass clinics here and there, but they tended to be held in stores, with only one performer, and lasted only about an hour. I whined and complained enough that my wife finally said, “Why don’t you organize one yourself?” And here I am!

See our interviews with the following bass players, all of whom are mentioned here:
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FBPO: It looks like you’ve got a pretty impressive lineup for your inaugural event. Which bass players going to be there?

RG: I have a great line up! Clinicians include:

  • Adam Nitti – One of the world’s most sought-after clinicians; cutting-edge bassist, performer, composer and columnist.
  • Benny Rietveld – Nine-time Grammy Award winner and bassist for Santana; music and movie producer, director and writer.
  • Bernhard Lackner – Featured at events such as the Euro Bass Day, Austria’s Outreach Jazz and BassUp! in the United States.
  • Sheldon Dingwall – Canada’s own premier bass builder and winner of two NAMM Outstanding Tone Awards in 2009.
  • Mike Dimin – Author, columnist and supreme musician. Mike literally wrote the book on the art of the solo bass.
  • Cameron Hood – Juno-nominated artist, bass instructor at Douglas College and professional performer since the age of 12

FBPO: What kind of agenda is planned?

RG: I have six clinicians, with lesson plans ranging from bass master classes to soloing clinics. There will even be a segment on bass building, too. I wanted to try to cover a cross-section of subjects of interest to all bass players, from beginners to professionals. I also have a variety giveaways from MTD, Aguilar, U-Bass, Hartke, DAddario, Planet Waves, LaBella, Bass Player Magazine, Dingwall, Mike Dimin, Gator and, of course, For Bass Players Only! It’s going to be exciting!

FBPO: Is this a one-shot deal, or are you hoping to see it turn into an annual event?

RG: I certainly hope it isn’t a one shot deal! My vision is to make it an annual event. If this year’s event is a success – and I really think it will be – I would like to extend it into a two-day event next year, with more players and a trade show, as well. We are even planning on having it in Calgary one week and Vancouver the next.

This is by no means a passing fancy. I really think that we, as Canadian musicians, deserve to have events like this in our own country. I also believe it can successfully grow into not only a great bass event, but an big attraction for other instruments, as well. I can see it wrapped up with music festivals, concerts and other unique venues.

FBPO: What would you like people to say after attending the Bass Bash?

RG: I would love for people to leave saying Wow, that was great! And right here in Calgary. Awesome! I can’t wait till next year.” I hope they’ll spread the word and make it bigger and better every year.

For more information on the Canadian Rockies Bass Bash, visit their website at www.canrockbassbash.com.

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