I met Ian through a mutual friend when I was still a music student at UW, somewhere around 2005. He was back in town on a break from touring with Jason Mraz and the three of us headed to Green Lake Pitch & Putt for a round of golf, beers in hand, obnoxious a-holes disturbing the peace. I didn't hear Ian play any music that day and assumed he was just another shitty pop bass player. Soon after he went back on tour, life went on, fast forward to 2009.
Ian's back in Seattle for good and playing regularly with Tim Kennedy and, wait, what? He plays upright?! Huh? He can improvise?! I'm confused. He's really good?! The elitist judgement skills I honed and perfected in music school were put to the test and failed, a lesson learned in judging a musician by genre. If anything, years of writing, recording, and performing pop music at a high level has contributed as much to his musicianship as anything else.
Ian is one of those rare players who has worked to gain the facility to play anything he wants but has the restraint and judgement to use that facility only when necessary. On electric his basslines are concise, refined, and lay a strong foundation that's easy to build upon. He's also one of my favorite upright players in town, with walking lines that provide clarity in form and a laid back, effortless feel. He understands and makes his primary concern the role a bass player fills in a band setting and, when given the space to let loose, has the dexterity and vocabulary to sing on his instrument. Much like his partner in crime Tim, Ian sounds incredible in every setting. The cherry on top of it all is that Ian is a kickboxer and can destroy you.
See Ian along with Tim, Art Brown, and myself tomorrow at the Triple Door Musicquarium. Ian Sheridan makes me happy.
As glamorous as being on tour seems, it is also about accepting a certain life of solitude. Most of the people I know who commit to a life of travel find this aspect to be the most satisfying and romantic. What other job pays you to sit and reflect on your life from cafes and picturesque street corners all over the world? Distance creates yearning, which is never a bad thing, and the differences in language only bring peace and music to mind when parked in a crowded plaza. I am grateful for my life and all of life, for what I see and what I don’t see, but I have a dog-eared passport to remind me I’ve seen a lot.
Tonight I am grateful for those I currently travel with as much as for those I once traveled with who made it possible for me to be where I am. I was introduced to my manager Bill along with friends Jerry and Justin 13 years ago today. I couldn’t have told you how my life would turn out back then, but I trusted in their warm and inviting friendship and I could see how much potential they saw in me. I knew it wise to stick close to them for they saw my own greatness before I.
A few years later in the coffee shop era, I met a bass player at an open mic, Ian Sheridan. He was playing bass while a DJ spun breaks and beats. I sensed he could use a band and I needed a bass player. I told him I had a stack of songs and a record deal to sway his interest rather quickly. We hit if off and toured together for years; starting in his truck before we could afford to invest in a touring van.
I have seldom taken the time to acknowledge band members outside of a general onstage introduction and I am sorry I have let that slide for so many years. I’ve had the pleasure of playing with many many MANY talented musicians. Dozens in fact, if you include all the different studio session players and touring artists I’ve mixed and mingled with over the past decade. Ian was a soft spoken player who always showed up with a smile, a great attitude, and a willingness to teach whichever new players came to the table who had to learn the catalog fast. He wasn’t much for onstage banter but I occasionally got him to agree with me or laugh at my jokes, calling him “The Lover of the Low End” for hundreds of shows in hundreds of cities. Offstage he had plenty to say and his stories are still cherished by those of us who traveled far and wide with him. His is a style uniquely his own.
That said, Ian recently released a new album with his satirical pseudo-slut-band Richie Aldente; whose name in Italian means “firm, but not hard” is the fitting nomenclature for this all too sexy, but non-threatening act. I had these guys play at a house party a few years ago and they blew everyone away. Since then I’ve seen them many times and it’s always a heart warming good time in the audience. If you like dancing, you’re gonna like this band. If you like making love, you’re gonna love it.
Ian, Thank you for the years of service. Thanks for going the distance and being a key player in the epic.