In Lindsay Woolgar’s Edmonton home, Sunday morning breakfast wasn’t complete without Bach or Handel on the stereo, and Miles Davis’ 50s recordings were a regular guest at dinner. Fast forward a couple of decades, and Lindsay is powering through a Jazz Studies degree here in Winnipeg, and beginning to make her mark as a bassist around town. You can hear her every week at the Cool Wednesday Night Hang, and now at the Hubtones Jam on Mondays as well.
When did you start playing the bass? Why?
I discovered bass on New Year’s Eve in Grade 9. I was noodling around on a friend’s new guitar, when I realized I was only interested in picking out the bass lines on the bottom strings. It hit me at that moment that I should be a bass player—it seemed like the logical choice after years of violin lessons and a growing love of music. I was so determined to play the bass that when I didn’t make the cut for jazz band in grade 10, I showed up with a bass every rehearsal anyway and sat there until I was allowed to play.
I had a Music Diploma from Grant MacEwan College and was freelancing in Edmonton when a friend recommended that I take a lesson with this bass player Steve Kirby who was passing through town…and here I am today! Although I never thought I would move to Winnipeg (especially from an equally cold and scrappy Prairie city), I was persuaded thoroughly by the depth and warmth of community here, and by the high level encouraged and demonstrated consistently by our professors.
What’s the most misunderstood thing about jazz bass?
The bass player is like a referee. It is the bassist’s job to stay open and malleable to what is going on in the music, while still providing a solid foundation for the other musicians. Many people don’t understand just how much power the bass has within the ensemble. The bassist can really shape the progression of a song through their rhythmic and harmonic decisions—for better or worse.
Playing the double bass is a full-body experience, from the complete engagement of intellect and wit to the physical connection of finger on wood and string, and the vibration of the body of the instrument against my own. It is possible to transmit that feeling of connectedness and joy to other musicians and the audience, as long as I remember the pleasure to be found in playing those low, thumpy notes. Making it feel good is what playing the bass is all about!
And now you’re hosting the Hubtones Jam.
The Hubtones Jam is a fairly recent addition to the local jazz scene. It runs Monday nights throughout the university term at The Hub Pub on the U of M campus. The house band changes every week and is composed of Jazz Studies students and other local musicians, as well as a featured guest from the U of M Jazz Faculty. We play a set, then open it up to anyone (18+) who wants to perform. I am always looking for opportunities for cross-collaboration with other artists—tap dancers, spoken word artists, and visual artists are all highly welcome! Every third Monday will be tailored to swing dancers. Our first one in November brought out about 40 dancers! If you’re interested, or even if you just want to find out what’s going on with the Hubtones Jam, our Facebook page is the best way to stay tuned in.