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Band Life

First, following up from last month, I found a home for my old LPs. A local record store took them as a donation. No such luck with my tenor sax. I’m working on it. On with more recent events.


I’m in two part-time bands right now, The Joyful Noise (JNB) and the Blues Daddies. I play bass in both. The former is a church band I’ve been in for years. We used to play every week, taking summers off. We also had a couple of years off during Covid. We had an excess of guitarists, though only two of us were legitimate lead players, which should have been about right, except that the other lead player began stepping back leaving me to take most of the Sundays. It was more than I wanted.


Blues Daddies had been around for ages before I first met its leader Joe Pratt, which was, in turn, nearly 20 years before I joined his band. I’d dropped hints that I’d like to sit in with him, but it never happened until his bass player announced he was heading for the east coast. I subbed at his going-away party, and I’ve been a Daddy ever since.


My old band Void where Prohibited still calls on me to sub when they need a backup, generally for bass, but my last time out found me on lead and I had far more rust on me than I cared for. I was asked again for lead a couple of weeks ago and turned it down. A large part of the problem is that what I play for myself on my porch isn’t band stuff, and with both the Daddies and JNB, I play bass. Subbing on bass, if you know how the songs go, is fairly easy. Parts can be dumbed down without hurting the band. Lead, not so much, unless the band does lots of long jams. Void doesn’t.


The Daddies I don’t think ever gigged as much as Void, and when I joined them, they were getting out about once or sometimes twice a month. This suited me well. The once a week drill with Void wore thin, and with JNB to supplement my commercial gigs, I now had a comfortable retirement workload. I had several new songs to learn, which was a good thing for me. But then a succession of events seemed to conspire against us.


Our drummer left to go to music school in New York, then I had a stretch when family issues took precedence, cutting into my availability. Joe decided to go back to his (and my) old employer to work on a project (ironically to replace the system I had worked on for years) then got sick and had to back off that and everything else for a time. In short, the Blues Daddies became dormant for about four months. Not so much as one rehearsal. I got together with guitarist Art a couple of times, and we’re just now starting to rehearse with Joe again, so it’s finally looking promising.

JNB has had its own upheavals. Stefan, the guy who ran it since its inception retired recently. He has remained a musician in the band, but only part-time. While the group is in good hands, its schedule went down to about once a month. For me, that was fine.

Shin the Musician

Last update: April 6, 2024

The John Shinnick Web Site

I seem to be concentrating on low tones these days

But this year, all three regular bassists stepped down for various reasons, giving me the opportunity / curse to play bass exclusively. Opportunity because I not only enjoy playing bass, but I felt it would complement what I was doing with the Daddies. Curse because I have no venue for playing lead. I kinda liked doing both.


Further, not only did the other bass players leave, but so did many of the other guitarists. We’re starting to run low on musicians, especially since Stefan will be travelling for a few months. We fortunately have a good number of keyboard players, but a band without guitars? Fortunately, I’m not driving this bus. I can likely play the once-a-month schedule until summer break. I can play either bass or guitar on short notice as needed, but some recruiting is in order.


Such is my precarious position as a group musician. To paraphrase the old saying, “Bands: can’t do with ‘em, can’t do without ‘em.”  But on the positive side, it’s now April. The days are getting longer and the weather more predictable and warmer. I’m getting out on my porch more often now, and the callous on my right thumb seems to be back in shape to where I can play for an hour and a half without fear of blistering. And best of all, I don’t have to worry about the availability of other musicians!

The recording, lyrics, and back story to "My Brain Is Too Small", a song I wrote and recorded in 1990.

The video, lyrics, and back story of the song I wrote and performed for my retirement party in 2006.

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