Bass Frontiers Staff Contributor
I recently had the opportunity talk with fellow bassist Roy Vogt. Roy has performed with such greats as Dickey Betts, the late Jerry Reed, Sweethearts of the Rodeo, Dukes of Hazzard Star John Schneider, Susan Ashton, Jessica Andrews, Heavy Metal Singer Joanna Dean and Engelbert Humperdinck. I want to thank Roy for this great interview! …Read on!
(Ty) Where were you born and raised to where you got to where you are today ?
(Roy) I was born in Schulenberg, a small town in South Texas and grew up in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, in Arlington specifically. Back then, Dallas had a thriving Studio Scene and a lot of the musicians who recorded jingles and radio station IDs were alumni of North Texas State University and their Lab Bands and Jazz Studies program.
When I was growing up I decided to make the transition from Baritone Horn to Electric Bass when I was 14 and the Junior High was starting a Jazz Band (they were called “Stage Bands” back then. They didn’t need a Baritione Horn but they did need an Electric Bass. I worked on the loading dock of my Dad’s plumbing supply all that Summer and took my money and went to Ault’s Music to buy a Kalamazoo EB-O copy and a Gibson Thor amplifier. Ironically, I still have that bass and the Thor had 2 10″ speakers, which a lot of the cabinets I use have.
?I studied with two great teachers in the DFW area, Pat Nobles and Ed Garcia, who were NTSU (now it’s called UNT) alums. Ed in particular was a great bassist who had played in the One O’Clock Band and he became a major mentor to me. He encouraged me to go to NTSU and get involved with the Jazz Program.
Three years in, the Jazz Program proved to be less than a perfect fit for me. I was really drawn to the Electric Bass and Rock and the great Fusion Bands of the mid-70s. I had even played with the Texas Fusion Band Aurora and opened shows for The LA Express and Larry Coryell and met great players like Max Bennett, Jaco Pastorius, Stanley Clarke and Miroslav Vitous so I was really feeling the urge to go in that direction. NTSU in the 70s was pretty much all String Bass and Straight-ahead Jazz, so Dan Haerle, one of my teachers, suggested I check out the University of Miami. I met Don Coffman, a great teacher who became my second mentor and attended U of M as his Grad Assistant in 1979-80. I received the first Masters Degree in Electric Bass in the US in 1980.
I had been encouraged by my friend Skip Sorelle (Aurora’s former guitarist) to move to Nashville, so I made the move in December of 1980. I’ve been here for 32 years and I’ve toured with Dickey Betts, the late Jerry Reed, Sweethearts of the Rodeo, Dukes of Hazzard Star John Schneider, Susan Ashton, Jessica Andrews, Heavy Metal Singer Joanna Dean and Engelbert Humperdinck. I’ve played major Jazz Festivals like Montreux, The North Sea Jazz Festival and the Montreal Jazz Festival with vibraphonist Jerry Tachoir and opened for Eric Johnson, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Spyrogyra with guitarist Stan Lassiter. I’ve also done literally hundreds of recording sessions, all the way from Custom Albums for unknown talent to Major Label releases in every conceivable style.
?In addition, I’m heavily involved in teaching and music education. I’ve probably had over 1,000 bass students since starting as a Teaching Assistant at U of M. For the last 30 years I’ve taught Bass at Belmont University, where I now coordinate the Bass Program. We have 3 other fine instructors, Craig Nelson, Stephanie Dickinson and Adam Nitti. Presently the Bass Department has anywhere from 25-30 Bass Majors at any given time. I teach Electric Bass and Jazz and Classical Upright Bass as well as direct the Bass Ensemble. Last semester the Bass Ensemble performed “School Days” by Stanley Clarke at our Spring Concert with 18 bassists all lined up across the stage taking turns soloing. It was really, really fun. I’ve also taught at The Nashville Jazz Workshop,The National Guitar Workshops, The Belmont String Crossings Camp, The Jam at BGA and Victor Wooten’s Bass and Nature Camp. This has all prepared me for my first Fantasy Bass Boot Camp this July.
Besides teaching, I’m still very active in the Nashville Music Scene with both live gigs (anything from Jazz to General Business to Country and Rock) and session work. This last month I’ve played on a Country project, a Jazz project with former Pat Metheny drummer Danny Gottlieb and an instrumental Guitar CD by Chris Nashville Rocker Dimella, so that’s a typical example of the variety of music I do. I try to stay active and keep my hands in a lot of things musically.
(Ty) You have a few solo CD’s out, could you share your thoughts on those and how your creative writing process for those came to light ?
(Roy) I had always been of the “sideman” mindset, but I will have to give credit to my wife Dee Dee for convincing me I had something to say as a Solo Artist that was not being said in the bands I was playing in and recording with. The first CD “Simplicity” was recorded over a 4 year period in 3 distinct sessions in 1996, 1999 and 2000. I had a great “All Star” lineup of Dale Armstrong, Dave Weckl and Chester Thompson on drums, Tom Reynolds, the late T Lavitz and Carl Hergessell on keys, Stan Lassiter, Shane Theriot and Mike Durham on guitar, Jeff Coffin, Mitch Reilly, Jeffrey Scott Wills and Jeff Kirk on saxes and Gary Oleyar on violin and acoustic rhythm guitar. I was especially honored to have my good friend Victor Wooten play with me on two songs. I’m proud to say the CD still is well received almost 10 years after it was released.
“Urban Legend” was the polar opposite. I was preparing for the release of Teach Me Bass Guitar and I wanted to record and showcase the great band that played on the TMBG Series (Tim McDonald-keys, Shane Roberts-guitar and Bryan Larrance on drums) along with guests Jerry Tachoir on vibes and Dann Sherrill on percussion. From initial sessions to picking up the final CDs from the manufacturer took all of two weeks! It reminded me of some of the old Custom Gospel Albums I had played on in how quickly it all went. With great players and a great production team you can do that. That CD has a great unified “band feel” to it that I’m very happy with. I also recorded short solo bass interludes to link one song with the next. This was all really fun!
?I started out writing by playing everything into a 4 track cassette with a little cheap drum machine, but since then I’ve moved on to using DAW software and even Band in a Box to flesh out ideas for chord progressions, grooves and melodies. I write on keyboards and basses about equally these days. Personally, I feel like I’ve succeeded if I’ve created something that Musicians and non-Musicians alike will enjoy. I don’t necessarily write “solo bass music” although I’m not shy about playing a lot if the music calls for it.
I’m still mulling over ideas for the next project and I think there will be 3-an “All Star Guitar” recording with some of my heroes on guitar, an Acoustic Jazz Trio or Quartet and another “Urban Legend” type project. I’m still writing and putting together funding for this so I have no idea which will come first. Tim McDonald and I are writing some great songs so that’s starting the momentum rolling again.
(Ty) Can you shed some light on TMBG (Teach Me Bass Guitar) on how that came about, and the upcoming bass camp you have that will be focused on students of TMBG ?
(Roy) David and Barbara Crossman from The Learning Dock approached me in the Summer of 2008 with the idea of doing the Rolls Royce of interactive Bass Guitar courses. Everything about it is something that has not been done before, from the onscreen fretboard that displays the notes in real time to the Loop Library where a student can practice the same material over and over with me to playing 20 original tunes with the TMBG Band (now called The Urban Legend Band) and Thunder Row, the online bass community where students can ask me questions and share ideas and their playing. The course is designed to take a complete beginner to an Intermediate/Advanced level in the span of 18 months to 2 years with 20 specific chapters. From writing the material to proofing to shooting, editing and production was a nearly year-long process, but it has turned out to be a very successful program.
With that in mind, we decided to host the first Fantasy Bass Boot Camp in Nashville from July 29-August4 in Nashville, TN. The students get 5 days of powerhouse instruction from me, Tim Smith, Adam Nitti, Bernhard Lackner and Brian Bromberg. They also record a Master Session in Nashville’s Sound Emporium Studio A (where Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, T-Bone Burnett and many top Nashville Stars have recorded) with the The Urban Legend Band (Shane Roberts, Tim McDonald and Dale Armstrong on drums) as well as a live concert at The Rutledge, one of Nashville’s premier live music venues. This is a great combination of learning and “Dream Come True” moments for the campers, and we’re really excited about this!
(Ty) What gear are you currently using ? Endorsements ?
(Roy) I have been with Carvin Basses since 1992. They’re great people and the instruments have always been great instruments that they have continually improved. I also have relationships with Hotwire Basses in Germany and Conklin Basses. In the past I had relationships with Spector Basses and Modulus Graphite. They all make great instruments as well.
?I will typically use a Carvin Icon 6 and a Claro Walnut LB-76F fretless 6 string as well as a Carvin Sekou Bunch SB5000 five string bass for most of my work these days. I also used my Modulus Quantum 6 and Conklin/Groove Tools Bill Dickens GTBD 7 string bass on Urban Legend.?Ampwise, I’m still affiliated with Eden and DNA Amps and I use an Eden Navigator for recording and an Eden WT-600 or WTX-260 for live gigs into 210 XLT or 210 XST cabinets or a DNA NS12 single 12 NEO cabinet by Dave Nordshow Amplification.
?I’m in the process of talking with some other great companies and I’m excited to be adding some new partners in Music to my team very soon.
(Ty) What is your inspiration and influences in your music ?
(Roy) I’ve been inspired by everything from Classic Rock, Fusion, Jazz, Bluegrass, Singer-songwriter to Classical Music-pretty much anything and everything really. Bassists that have meant a lot to me would include Jaco Pastorius, Jeff Berlin, Bill Dickens, Stanley Clarke, Gerald Veasley, Jimmy Haslip, John Pattitucci, Beaver Felton, Dann Glenn, Ray Brown, Michael Rhodes, Dave Pomeroy, Abe Laboriel and Brian Bromberg.
Once again, almost every bassist I hear inspires me. I’m so grateful for Brian Bromberg and Bass on the Broadband for introducing me to more! Victor Wooten holds a very special place in my heart because we are good friends as well as colleagues. He has not only inspired me by his playing but his book “The Music Lesson” has been a life-changing read on many, many levels.
My main inspiration comes from my Spiritual Walk and my family and friends. I feel very, very blessed to be able to do what I do every day!
(Ty) Any advice to share with the readers ?
(Roy) Consistency is huge. Whoever said “80% of success is showing up” is absolutely dead-on! Also, remember that everyone has tough times, bad gigs, struggles and general Life Stuff. Don’t give up! If the desire of your heart is to play and find a way to make a living and you’re not afraid of hard work you can do this!
(Ty) What are you currently listening too ?
(Roy) A lot of times I just go to www.bassonthebroadband.com and listen and get inspired. I’m really enjoying Mothership by Return to Forever, Stephen “Thudercat” Bruner and Hadrien Feraud as well. I’m always going back and checking out recordings by the Masters in any genre and when I need a total palate cleanser I listen to WSM-AM or www.wsmonline.com and listen to Classic Country, especially Eddie Stubbs!
(Ty) final thoughts ?
(Roy) I’m just grateful to be here doing what I do and I’m grateful for all the friends, fans, family and fellow musicians who support me on so many levels!
All things Roy!