“Bubbalon by Bass” was an ongoing project of late bassist’s, Dave Grant’s, since the early 90’s when he would take every opportunity to coerce musicians traveling through Charlottesville, Va. into the recording studio. Most times there was no predetermined song and certainly no practice. And amazingly, much of what was recorded was done in one take. Dave talked about being in the rhythm section of life, as well as in his bands, and he always drove these sessions with his eclectic and highly syncopated bass playing. His musical vision sprang from his roots in Appalachian Old Time music. From there, he went on to explore the boundless possibilities in merging different music styles, incorporating various world beat rhythms and using nontraditional instrumentation. In the playful spirit of creating imaginative music and stretching the boundaries, he brought in chain saws, drywall buckets, trash can lids and bagpipes. Often he would stuff the string instruments with foam padding to augment their percussive quality. Dave was all about invention and spontaneity and it shows in the melding of this diverse group of players and their creative renderings of tunes from all styles of music: from Marley to Dylan to Zappa to the Clash. It all works; “Bubbalon” is the result of his creative foresight and infectious charisma.
Dave’s death in March 2002 was very sudden and tragic. He was 46. At that time, he had completed the mixing of 7 of the tunes in Bobby Read’s (sax player for Bruce Hornsby) studio. From the volumes of material Dave recorded, Bobby selected the tunes that were the closest to completion and went on to finish the album which was finally released in 2007.
Dave Matthews is the most notable guest performer on “Bubbalon” which also features Peter Rowan, Tim O’Brien, Robin and Linda Williams, David Nelson, Bill Kirchen, Tony Trischka, Michael Doucet, Matt Glaser and Barry Mitterhoff. James Leva and Dirk Powell were band mates of Dave’s in the 90’s band “The Freewill Savages” and appear throughout the recording. And in Dave’s generous and all inclusive way, many more talented, though not so famous, folks joined together to make this record an energized and unique experience; highly dancable in the style of rock steady reggae.
Great music just seemed to happen whenever Dave was involved. A close friend and drummer, Spencer Lathrop, beautifully sums up what he believes to be true of Dave and his music. “Dave was one of the best musicians I ever knew, confident, adventurous, open to the world. And it shows on this record. The groove is down and dirty. The melodies are wild and happy. Everybody caught a piece of Dave Grant’s spirit in the making of this record, and we are all better off for it.”
“Dave Grant’s lust for life permeates his posthumously released CD “Bubbalon By Bass.” Sessions with Dave were always special events. He set up favorable conditions and then let chemistry take its course. I smile when I hear this music.” Tim O’Brien