by Brent-Anthony Johnson
When I listen to Lisa Mann, I’m reminded of how fleeting and yet beautiful life can be. Her song “Someday” from her most recent release, 2008’s “Chop Water”, was my theme song as I ran through one of the craziest month’s I’ve ever experienced during December 2008! Thank you, Lisa!
The fourteen deftly written tunes featured on the disc run the gamut from grinding blues to 8th note-driven rockers like “Wake Me”, to thoughtful ballads like “Dance A Little Closer”… and each song is driven by Lisa’s bad ass bass playing! This diminutive groove machine and two-time winner of the Cascade Blues Association’s Muddy Waters Award (for Bass Player of the Year); 2008
Vocalist of the Year and 2007 Famecast Band Competition finalist (2nd Place) is someone everyone should hear from much more often than we do! You can learn more at www.lisamannmusic.com and www.myspace.com/lisamannmusic
BAJ: Hi “Li”! Thank you for the warmth and humorous grit of “Chop Water”, and thank you for joining us here at Bass Musician Magazine! I wanted to begin by chatting about your response to our interview request, “I’m just a meat & potatoes bass player!” You’re hardly a pedestrian bassist. Also, let’s talk about your choice to employ the 6-string bass guitar… that isn’t the choice of the average bassist! Let alone the choice of many bassist/lead vocalists! What is the basis of your Instrumental choice, and in what ways does the 6-string support you – as you support your “Really Good Band”?
LM: First I’ll say, thanks so much for the interview and the kind words! Well, I guess the 6-string thing started when I was in my late teens… I was a fan of classical music and started playing Paganini and Bach on my 4-string bass and I guess I just ran out of frets. The very first 6-string I laid eyes on, I bought- that was my Warwick Thumb. I think it was a good investment. Since then I branched out into many styles of music including blues and R&B, and I find that having a 6-string allows for fat deep notes as well as double-stops to accentuate the chord progressions. I play a lot of trio shows, and when the guitarist begins to solo, it’s nice to keep those chords alive underneath him as the rhythm guitar drops out. I also have the opportunity to play solo shows with a 6-string (“At Last” being a good example), although the chord voicings can be a little limiting based on tuning and the size of the fretboard.
BAJ: While we’re “here”, let’s talk about your gear, in general… What areyou playing, and how did your tone come together?
LM: I have the Warwick I mentioned before, it’s a neck through body 1989 Thumb with big flat frets, so it almost has a fretless flavor to it. It has a great mid-range response that some soundmen find unnerving, but I love the way it grunts. I mainly save that bass for shorter performances and for the studio, as a solid bubinga body makes it a full 14 pounds. My main working axe is an early 90’s Tobias Killer B 6-string. It plays very smooth, although I wish the upper horn was further over that 12th fret so I wouldn’t have to stretch for my F and low C frets. I play through a Gallien-Krueger RB 800 bass head; I’ve used them for years, and have a Genz Benz four ten with big fat ports in the bottom.