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On May 28th, we had the pleasure of hosting Bryan Beller for an evening of all things "bass." The crowd eagerly piled in, many arriving more than an hour before the scheduled start time and coming as far as Minneapolis for the event.
Beller quickly made everyone comfortable with his easygoing demeanor and started the night off reflecting on growing up with his family in New York and attending a great public school that was academic and sports centered. The school was prepping its students for the Ivy Leagues but didn't have much in the way of fine arts. Because of this, he learned how to play on his own, started a band, and kept on going from there.
While he thought he was quite good by hometown standards, once he got into Berkley College Of Music, Beller realized he "sucked" (in his own words). Not to be defeated, he quickly took that as a challenge and started learning as much as he could. His first audition out of school was with Dweezil Zappa. He had two weeks to learn everything he needed for the tryout, all while not letting his nerves get the best of him. At only 22, he spoke of remembering the day of the auditions and how he is pretty sure that he didn't breathe the entire time. But he was prepared and determined, which must have shown, as he landed his first gig with that audition.
Beller has had many jobs since then, working with artists like Steve Vai, Mike Keneally, and Joe Satriani as well as corporations such as SWR Sound Corporation and writing for Bass Player Magazine. He was an early blogger, documenting his personal and professional experiences in his work entitled "The Life of Bryan" from 1995 until 2005.
One of the songs Beller performed was called "Seven Percent Grade" from his live album, Wednesday Night Live. It was his own piece he wrote to musically convey driving on a mountain highway in California for the first time. The song had an intense feel to it, with lots of swerve filled notes combined with various speeds. If you closed your eyes, one could definitely imagine the imagery that Bryan had experienced; the song was a soundtrack in itself.
Beller has a devoted following stemming from his involvement in Dethklok. Dethklok is both a virtual band and a real band from the animated program Metalacolpse, created by Brendan Small. Beller equated the show to "Josie and The Pussycats or Archies, except death metal". After performing "Pull The Plug" from the show, he stated it is the most fun gig he has ever had. He loves getting to be a metal guy without actually being a metal guy.
Everyone always wants to know who a great player's influences have been and Beller touched on several of his. His list includes Flea (the ultimate rock slapper), John Patitucci, Jaco Pastorius, Scott Thunes, and Tim Commerford.
When asked about his favorite gigs, Bryan touched on wanting the Steve Vai gig so bad, but he didn't get it the first time around. This started his journey of self examination and playing. He learned that he had been chasing only what he wanted and the results were not as good as when he started showing up to listen. His advice to the audience included showing up with your head clear and working to be present in the moment. Everything is about choices and reactions - not just "nailing" it all. What Bryan brought to the clinic was his ability to relate to the audience. His humor and knowledge was presented in an unpretentious way, and it made for an unforgettable night.
A big thank you to D'Addario for sponsoring the event.
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