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Steele Whisnant

Gratitude in Action: The bass, and the basis of a good life.

“The people I meet while playing music have always kept me motivated to continue to play; everyone from venue/bar owners, event promoters, to fellow musicians. Roanoke has such a vast amount of talented and driven people, many of whom are working together to continue to expand the culture of the area. I’m extremely happy and inspired to be a small part of that scene.”

“I currently play bass guitar in three of those bands. Shorefire(reggae/rock), Empty Bottles (Soul/Rock) and Half Moon, which is hard to place in a genre. For now we call it “Appalachian Soul.” I’ve been lucky to play bass alongside drummer John Beason for many years, which has helped me to grow as a bass player and a musicianI’m always grateful to be able to sit in with talented people and play all kinds of music. I feel fortunate to be in bands with musicians that are major influences on me as a person and a player.”

“A lot of the music that we play has improvisational aspects to it, so I spend a lot of time on stage listening to what the other guys are playing and trying to mesh my playing into that. I love interacting with the other musicians and going with the flow of a song. Other than that, I’m just trying not to mess up too badly!”

“A few years ago Half Moon and Shorefire played the Half Moon Xmas Jam at Martin’s Downtown (with Lazy Man Dub Band and Relacksachian) and we finished our set with all the bands on stage playing a song together. It was a special moment to be surrounded by so many talented people who I’m also fortunate enough to consider my close friends.”

“As a kid, I never thought that I’d ever play music in front of people; I was playing music purely for fun. I was lucky that my dad had a banjo and guitars lying around the house, so I was able to start messing around with them at an early age. When I first started teaching myself to play guitar, singer/songwriter Allen Thompson was a close friend with my older brother, so he would come by the house and help me play along to some Neil Young tunes. Throughout middle and high school, I would sit in my room and play along to my mom and dad’s vinyl albums. Eventually, I started playing drums and jamming to my brother-in-law’s punk band demo tapes with my cousin in his basement.”

“Still, my music preferences change on a daily basis. One day I’ll be playing along to a Fugees record, and then 2 days later I’m listening to a Slayer LP. No matter how crazy I get with my musical tastes, I always seem to gravitate back to jamming to Motown music. As a bass player, I love anything that Pino Palladino plays on. I feel that Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam, and George Porter Jr. of the Meters are my two main inspirations. Lately, I’ve been on a Sly & The Family Stone kick, though I’m not afraid to admit that the next song on my Spotify playlist is “Like a Prayer” by Madonna, followed by some Trampled By Turtles. However, I usually start my day with a healthy dose of Wu-Tang Clan (the breakfast of champions!)”

“As far as future plans, I’d like to continue to surround myself with music in any way possible. Whether it’s playing with bands or working on gig flyers. For now, I’m just hoping to continue to roll with my current schedule of balancing work and playing in three or more bands. My ultimate goal is to eventually form a funk band consisting only of bass players on stage, though the logistics of that are still a “work in progress.”

Photo Credit: Siobhan Donegan Cline



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