Any fan of the Rogue Valley music scene is sure to have heard rhythms by bass player Jeff Addicott. He's the first-call bassist for more than a handful of local bands.
"That's a good way to describe what I do," Addicott says. "I like the versatility of being a freelancer. The bass was always a good fit for me. I seem to have a knack for that musical role."
He also knows his way around a lot of different styles of music. He plays stand-up bass with Sage Meadows and her band High Country, electric bass with Latin dance band Salsa Brava! and electric and acoustic bass with The Muskadine Blues Band, to name a few.
"For High Country, I play mostly what you'd call a two-beat bass line, the first and fifth notes of the chord," he says. "I play Afro-Cuban tumbao, a syncopted rhythm, for Salsa Brava! The bass note usually doesn't play on the first beat of any given bar. It's tricky until you get used to it. Once you're familiar with the style, it becomes second nature. And I play shuffle rhythms or walking blues lines for Muskadine."
Addicott, who's lived in Ashland since 1996, first met and played with many local musicians at the weekly Blue Monday jam held in the lounge at the Mark Antony Hotel.
"The music scene was good," he says. "The Mark Antony Hotel was my hangout. My first gig in Ashland was there, and there was great music every night all week long. I like anything good. If it's genuine and has some intensity, I can get into it."
He joined singer, songwriter and guitarist Craig Wright's band Horse Feathers before turning to freelance work.
Since then he's sat in with or worked for Detlef Eismann's The Blue Notes and The Savoys, the Southern Oregon Jazz Orchestra, the Robbie DaCosta Band, jazz vocalist Gayle Wilson, jazz pianist David Scoggin, the Modern Prometheus Jazz Co., and the Djangoholics, a band inspired by Django Rheinhardt and European Gypsy jazz.
"Djangoholics play a fun, approachable branch of jazz," Addicott says. "I used to play more avant-garde jazz, and I miss that. The music scene in the Rogue Valley is always in transition, venues open and close. Right now, clubs want dance bands or background music. There's a corps of longtime musicians here, and then there's those who straggle in and out. I've been playing regularly with a relative newcomer, guitarist Paul Turnipseed."
Addicott points to the gentrification he's seen over the years in the Rogue Valley.
"There used to be a stronger middle ground. That comfort zone has become precarious. One moment you're being hounded for spare change, the next feeling uncomfortable not wearing a collared shirt at one of the many upscale establishments. It seems that the unusually high overhead for businesses bleeds the fun out of the possibilities.
"I still subsist in this unique environment," he says. "The music scene in the valley is shifting from the blue collar, weekend dances at clubs, bars and restaurants to wineries, festivals, concerts and house parties," he says.Born in Michigan, and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Addicott played in the Edmonton Youth Symphony for seven years before enrolling at Alberta's College of Arts and Design, where he quickly changed his major from photography to glass blowing. Though he studied cello and violin since the age of 5, he was suddenly interested in bass. He began bass studies, joined a punk band, gigged a bit, learned more about glass, toured Europe for a year on a bicycle and then returned to Canada to study jazz and popular music at the Mount Royal Conservatory in Calgary. Last year, Addicott scaled back on playing live music to allow time for glass blowing at Gathering Glass Studio, 322 N. Pioneer St., where he has become a full-time employee. "I like using intuition and improvisation," Addicott says. "My glass work and my music have similarities. The work is earthy, noncommercial, essentially abstract and apolitical."