I got to say , I love talking to bass players . Maybe it ’ s because the nature of the instrument and its role in a band requires that they check their ego . Sure , if they wish , bass players can get as flashy as guitarists and drummers , but every great bass player will tell you that they ’ re there to lay the foundation for the music . Serving the song is their number one job , and that often means adhering to the motto of “ less is more .” And so , I usually find there ’ s a humble honesty to bassists and it makes for an enjoyable and interesting conversation . As you ’ ll read , that held true in these five conversations for our latest annual look at the bass . I hope you enjoy …
These interviews have been edited for length and clarity .
PHOTO : KASSEY SHIER
Lisa Dodd : Well , truthfully , my bass player quit and that ’ s why I ’ m a bass player . I was playing with my dad ’ s band when I was in my teens and we had a female bass player at the time , Carol Goodman , and she left to go do other things . I was just a singer — me and another young gal , we would just be featured singers in my dad ’ s Legion band . We played Legions and small bars , pizza joints , and stuff like that around Calgary . When Carol left , I had been watching her for some time and I learned by watching and I said , “ I can probably do that .” So , he got me an old Hondo bass with only three strings left on it and we fixed it up a little bit . It was pretty easy music — well , relatively easy , like Hank Williams and Merle Haggard and threechord , root-5 , pretty simple stuff . So , that ’ s when I was 16 or 17 and I ’ ve been playing for 36 years now .
CM : What differentiates elite bass playing in country music from other genres ?
Lisa Dodd is the only woman to win the Country Music Association Award for Bass Player of the Year , which she has earned an incredible four times ( 2012 , 2015 , 2019 , and 2020 ). When not laying down tracks as a session musician , she ’ s on the road playing bass and singing harmony vocals for Canadian country star Gord Bamford and others .
CM : When did you first begin playing the bass and what brought you to the instrument and made you stick with it ?
Dodd : Well , every type of music is its own specific thing . It ’ s not like I ’ m playing jazz bass solos . It ’ s not that kind of gig . Bass and drums , in my opinion , for most country music – except for some of the new stuff , which is pretty intricate and there ’ s some really nice bass licks and you get up the neck and play some fancy stuff – but the roots of country music have the bass and drums as the foundation . You keep it simple and you ’ re holding it together , while the guitars play the fancy , chicken-pickin ’ things and it ’ s generally all about the singer and the words . Country music itself is less about dance-y drum beats and stuff like that . The heart of country music , for me , is about the story and the singer . It ’ s not my business to be muddying it all up . Leave the fancy notes to the guitar players and the steel players and the fiddle players and I ’ m just its solid foundation .
50 CANADIAN MUSICIAN