Archived in 2022

Originally posted on 25 Nov 2007

Yet another advantage to moving back to the East Bay: wicked cool live music for free.

November’s show is courtesy of the very nice people at Nomad Cafe. And, since Nomad offers free wireless, it’s the first show that I’ve live blogged.

David Grossman isn’t your typical bass player. First of all, he’s a geek. You look at him and you think, “Yeah, that’s a programmer of some sort.” After the people at the table directly in front of him got up and left he commented that he was glad they left as their loud discussion about computer stuff had been distracting him. I’m glad to be here (live blogging from a Linux laptop) in support of a geek.

Another Dave Grossman peculiarity is his instrument. He’s playing on a custom made seven string electric bass guitar. I don’t know a lot about basses but it doesn’t take a genius to know that this is a beautiful instrument. It has great lines and the color and grain of the natural wood are well displayed. Plus, you know, seven strings. Very cool.

The most distinguishing characteristic about this performance is the material. Grossman specializes in playing J.S. Bach. When I saw that on the event listing I thought, “Bach on an electric bass? Can that work?” As it turns out, yes, it does. So far he’s played some solo fugues and a couple of motet duets with another bass player (Arianna, no last name given yet) and they’ve all been very impressive. The amount of effort and skill involved in transcribing and learning these works is very apparent.

Arianna deserves a mention on her own. She’s playing a solo set of original works right now and is a treat to watch and listen to. Aside from a few hardware glitches (yup, definitely upgrade that pedal) her performance has been top notch.

Before arriving today I was having second thoughts about coming to see this show. I expected that the loud venue of a popular cafe would be distracting from the music. Yes, the sound of the espresso machine gets in the way a little bit but I’m finding that the music is good enough that I’m able to focus on it and block out the background noise. This probably wouldn’t be possible for an acoustic or vocal performance.

For the price of a coffee and a refill I’ve been introduced to a couple of really great local musicians. I may keep track of these two and try to see them again at a future date. If this event is at all representative of the quality of event booked by Nomad I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on their calendar and taking in other shows here.