Freekbass - Bio
Freekbass is a master Funk bassist, reaching legendary status for his technical virtuosity and dynamic, infectious live performances. Freekbass was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and honed his chops at an early age in the local music scene that is known for producing a long list of superb Funk and Hip Hop musicians like Parliament, Zapp, Bootsy Collins, The Ohio Players, and Midnight Star. After graduating from The School for Creative and Performing Arts, Freekbass formed the hugely successful national touring bands Shag and Freekbass. A protégé of flamboyant Funk icon Bootsy Collins, Freekbass brings to the stage monster grooves that showcase his superlative technical ability, master showmanship and solid musical sensibility. Freekbass has played with a multitude of notable musicians including Bernie Worrell, Victor Wooten, DJ Logic, Bootsy Collins, Ivan Neville’s Dumstphunk, and Buckethead. Power, precision, and lightening fast chops define his commanding bass work and unique Funk sound. To date, Freekbass has released five CD’s, and a live DVD, and has garnered glowing reviews in Bass Player Magazine and Bass Frontiers Magazine. Freekbass also teaches, and has released several instructional DVD’s. Currently Freekbass plays with Headtronics, FREEKBOT, and the Blues/Rock/Funk power trio The Kelly Richey Band. Freekbass endorses Kustom, Roscoe Basses, Moog, D’addario Strings, EMG Pickups, and Mono Cases.
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Freekbass was an only child who expressed an interest in music at an early age. His lifelong study of the bass guitar and extensive experience in playing both live and in the studio have resulted in the commanding style and technical mastery that place Freekbass in a class of his own. Honing his chops since a young teenager, Freekbass has earned a top class reputation with some of the best Funk musicians known today. A protégé of iconic Funk Master Boosty Collins, Freekbass has earned a solid niche for himself in the Funk music scene and has played with a multitude of notable artists including: Bernie Worrell, Mike Gordon, George Porter Jr., Victor Wooten, Ivan Nevilles’s Dumstaphunk, DJ Logic, the (original) JB’s, and Buckethead. Freekbass gravitated toward bass-heavy music like Funk and Hip-Hop very early in his career, directly citing the city of Cincinnati as playing a huge role in his musical direction. Unbeknownst to many, Ohio has a long time history of producing some of the best Funk musicians in the world; Funk artists like Bootsy Collins, Zapp, The Ohio Players and Midnight Star all came out of the Dayton/Cincinnati area, and of course the legendary King Records must also be noted. He says, “I still remember the first day that I heard ‘More Bounce To the Ounce’ by Zapp. It changed my life.” Immersing himself in the city’s rich natural history and hot bed of Funk and Hip Hop proved to laser-focus and sculpt Freekbass’ sound and accelerate his rise to the top.
Freekbass’ musical education began at a young age, and he learned his first chords from his father who played guitar. His grandfather also played a variety of stringed instruments including banjo, guitar, and mandolin. His mother also influenced him with her obsession of Elvis Presely and The Beatles. Initially, Freekbass started out on the drums, then moved to guitar, and at age 14 began playing bass guitar, which he studied on his own, augmented with a handful of private lessons. Shortly thereafter, he began playing in a Blues band with other teenagers-- the band playing tunes by B.B. King, Ry Cooder, and Bobby Blue Bland. At age 16, Freekbass studied electric bass and upright bass with Jazz bassist Lynn Seaton (Woody Herman, Count Basie Orchestra), and continued his music education at the School For Creative and Performing Arts in his junior and senior years in high school.
After graduating from SCPA, Freekbass dove head first into the local music scene and began to carve out his unique, unconventional style of bass work. Certainly the keen interest as a youngster in the mythical qualities and dual identities of comic book superheroes has played a defining role in his inimitable style, particularly in Freekbass’ live performances in which he becomes a veritable “bass machine” on stage, eliciting lightening fast notes within the structure of precision timing. Employing a powerful and infectious stage presence, Freekbass’ live performances certainly verge on the theatrical, which should come as no surprise: as a youngster Freekbass had an interest in being a magician, stating that he, “dug the top hat and cape.” A flair for dynamic showmanship also gives a nod to Freekbass’ flamboyant and eclectic mentor, Funk Master Bootsy Collins. Their musical relationship started humbly and quickly became a friendship rooted in trust and likened spirits. As Freekbass explains, “The singer from Bootsy’s Rubberband, Mudbone Cooper was having me play bass on some demos he was doing. A funk and Soul label from Japan, P Vine Records was doing a Jimi Hendrix tribute album that Muddy was doing a track for with Michael “Kidd Funkadelic” Hampton. He asked me to play bass on it. Bootsy was the producer and engineer for the track. We hit if off really well at the studio. A couple of weeks later Bootsy called me and I started going out to his studio to record and write songs with him. Pretty special time when that happened.” The mutual respect between Bootsy and Freekbass is clearly evident; Bootsy has said, "Freekbass is the new spiritual warrior for the Funk." In fact, it was Bootsy Collins who christened him with the stage name Freekbass: “Bootsy gave me that. When I was recording at his studio one day he told me to ‘do that Freek bass thing on the bass’ with all of the effects I use. Some of the cats in the studio that day caught it and started calling me Freekbass or "Freek" and it started to stick.”
In the mid-Nineties, Freekbass was one of the founding members of the hugely successful Funk group Shag. Freekbass cut his teeth with this band, touring heavily for over four years. Eventually the members decided to slow down from the rigorous tour schedule and at that point Freekbass decided to start a side project, a band called Freekbass. The name was decidedly apropos, as that was his stage name and quickly becoming his everyday name as well. Initially Freekbass was slated to do only a few shows here and there, but as the band rose to success it turned into a full-time national touring outfit. Currently, Freekbass plays in the bands Headtronics, FREEKBOT, and the Cincinnati-based Rock/Blues/Funk power trio The Kelly Richey Band.
Freekbass describes his unique bass work as “a drummer who plays notes”, citing that “timing and feel are everything.” His early musical forays into percussion have led him to continue playing the drums and also programming an MPC 2000, which is a specialized drum loop machine used extensively in Hip Hop music. He also plays keys, guitar, and synths. His musical interests are many and are “all over the map” citing David Bowie, Funkadelic, Queen, Radiohead, Outkast, Beatles, Larry Graham, Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder, Parliament, Public Enenmy, Daft Punk, and Dr. Dre rounding out the list. He lists Jaco Pastorious, Bootsy Collins, Paul McCartney, Larry Graham, Geddy Lee, Charles Mingus and John Entwistle as bass players that have been influential, and adds, “Even though not technically a bass player, Bernie Worrell wrote some of the funkiest bass lines ever. Also, rhythm guitarist Catfish Collins, who is Bootsy Collins’ brother… his rhythm playing had a profound influence on my bass playing style and feel.”
To date, Freekbass has released five CD’s: Body Over Mind (2001), The Air Is Fresher Underground (2003), Grooveyard (2008), Junkyard Waltz (2008) and Concentrate (2011), earning glowing reviews in Bass Player Magazine and Bass Frontiers Magazine. Freekbass also released a live DVD “A Sliver Of Shiver” in 2007. In addition to his current projects, Freekbass also teaches bass guitar privately and through TruFire.com, an online guitar instruction video company. National music DVD instruction company, The Rock House Method, recently released two Freekbass instructional DVD’s: “Learn To Play Funk Bass with Freekbass Volume 1 & 2” (2008), and TrueFire.com has released his instructional DVD/download: “50 Freekbass Licks You Must Know” (2011).
In addition to playing a custom mutron bass, Freekbass uses a Fender 1975 Jazz Bass, a Fender 1972 Precision Bass, a MDX Guitars Custom 123 Bass, a Roscoe LG 3000 Custom, and a Kustom GrooveBass Amplifier and Cabinet. Freekbass is endorsed with Kustom, Roscoe Basses, Moog, D’addario Strings, EMG Pickups, and Mono Cases.
Freekbass’ tour history includes clubs, festivals, and schools nationwide. He’s played SXSW in Austin, Camp Bisco, Bear Creek Music festival, Hookahville, CMJ in NY, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, House of Blues in Chicago, and Bogart's in Cincinnati. He has opened for acts such as George Clinton & the P-Funk Allstars, Nikka Costa, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Cowboy Mouth, VHS or Beta, Les Claypool, and Biodiesel. The Cammy Awards (Cincinnati's version of the Grammys) awarded Freekbass "Best Urban/Hip Hop Band" and "Best Urban/Hip Hop Instrumentalist" for 2 years, and the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards (CEA’s) awarded Freekbass "Best Funk/R&B" band for 6 years in a row, starting in 2002, and two more in 2009 and 2010. Freekbass has been featured in Bass Player Magazine numerous times, including an article in March 2004 titled, “Keeper of the Funk Flame”. Tracks from “The Air Is Fresher Underground” have been featured on MTV’s “Pimp My Ride”. Freekbass’ most current CD “Concentrate” tracks are in current rotation on XM Radio’s Jamtronica program. Freekbass is also included on compilation CD’s by Bassics Magazine and D’Addario Strings. In addition, Freekbass has appeared in a Bootsy Collins video for the Bengals, and he has recorded songs and videos for the Cincinnati Reds.
Written by: Sonya Ziegler