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Listening: Featured Musician Don Bassey

Born: July 5, 1951 in Ann Arbor, MI
Resides in: Vallejo, CA
Favorite Food:  Avocado Club Sandwich at the Sardine Can
Relationship Status/Children:  Married for almost 38 years to Louise; son Justin, daughter-in-law Liz and grandson Cody

You joined your first band, The Revelations, in the 9th grade and have been involved in musical projects your whole life—is their a common thread in your projects? Teamwork, harmony, the friendships established and the exploration of unheralded and exciting music. New approaches to classic tunes, the constant quest for improvement and the desire to share the love with the crowd and uplift people with music.

You recently started the “Wednesday Night Ramble” at the Empress Theatre in Vallejo.  What is a “Ramble?” The late, great Levon Helm called his gathering of musical friends and family at his barn in Woodstock, New York “The Midnight Ramble.” I decided to name our event at the Empress in his honor. More than just a jam, it’s also about the spirit of sharing ideas, friendship and musical styles.

What was your best moment on stage? There seems to be a new one each time I play. I call them “Goose Bump Moments.” It’s mostly about WHOM I’m playing with and that musical and spiritual connection. Opening for The Byrds in 1970 was a dream come true for a young fan of that band. Opening for B.B. King with The Volker Strifler Band a few years ago was also a high point. I’m lucky.

What bands are you currently playing with? Danny Click and the Hell Yeahs! (we’re the Americana Orchestra when we play our acoustic shows), The North Bay All-Stars, Josh McIntosh Trio, Craig Cafall Band and Christopher Ford Band.

How long have you lived in Vallejo? With the exception of two and a half years while I was stationed in Idaho, I’ve lived here since early 1973—over 36 years.

Musicians often laugh about the jobs they held down throughout their musical careers – what jobs have you held that might surprise us? Custom home construction – Dad’s building company, US Navy Nuclear Reactor Operator/Electronics Technician, Mayflower Moving and Storage, Concrete construction, tile setter, civilian electronics mechanic at Mare Island, loudspeaker manufacturer, pro audio specialist

What's the first music you remember hearing? Gene Autry singing on his TV show. I was probably 2.

When did you know you wanted to be a musician? When I watched Rick Nelson and his band on the Ozzie and Harriet Show on TV. Maybe at age seven or eight.

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