Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pre-order The New Urban Nerds Release, "Fear Is Not The Natural State Of Civilized People"


Pre-order the new Urban Nerds release, "Fear Is Not The Natural State Of Civilized People" CD for $12, download it now and when the CD is officially released on 3-15-12, we’ll send you a copy.

Recording features four new compositions by bassist Daren Burns, the mastery of trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, guitarist Scott Collins, pianist Sarah Phillips, and drummer Craig Bunch.


The title of this CD is a quote from the Burmese political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi (who was recently released again; for how long, we'll have to see) and the music is my comment on the US post 9/11. As We have been running scared for now over eleven years, and seem willing to give up our most important and basic freedoms based only on fear, I say that maybe it's time we looked at some of the true heroes of the world, some of them peaceful others violent; who stood up, with 100% of their total energy and focus for what they believed in while paying greatly with their own personal costs. Blindly and foolishly giving up constitutional rights for the illusion of safety is not the answer.

This recording is dedicated to Goyathlay (Geronimo) the great Apache leader, Gandhi the Indian revolutionary, Aung San Suu Kyi the Burmese political prisoner, Fela Kuti the Nigerian fighter of governmental corruption, and anyone else who believes that life based on fear is not an option.

Music Is the Weapon.

released 15 March 2012
Daren Burns - composer/fretless bass
Wadada Leo Smith - trumpet
Scott Collins - guitar
Sarah Phillips - piano
Craig Bunch - drums

Recorded 6-23-09
Mixed 9-15 and 11-24-09
by Wayne Peet @ Newzone Studios, Los Angeles

Artwork and design by Kio Griffith

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Live video from my band Onibabas last gig 08-07-10

Here is some video of a recent performance by my band Onibaba recorded live @ Royal/T in Culver City, LA and presented by Rocco Somazzi and his Angel City Arts

Onibaba is:

Vinny Golia - woodwinds
George McMullen - trombone
Scott Collins - guitar
Daren Burns - bass
Joe Berardi - drums/percussion
Kio Griffith - live video

Onibaba exists between composition and improvisation and is described as being somewhere between the light and the dark, the ethereal and the earthly - Creative Music. Created by Daren Burns in 2006, the band synthesizes its sound by using elements of the Chicago avant-garde, jazz, rock, world, techno, noise, and classical, to create a new type of fusion that is definitely not the smooth, funky jazz of the 80’s and 90’s, but a new living music.

Set 1:

Set 2:

© Urban Nerds 2010

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mick Karn Diagnosed With Advanced Stages Of Cancer

Mick Karn is one of my favorite fretless bassists of all time. He is a true original voice on the instrument and maybe not for everyone; however, his playing is free of fusion cliche´s and downright quirky. There is not another like him. (No easy feat as his work with the band Japan is post Jaco)

When I heard he was diagnosed with advanced cancer I was stunned. I also heard he had been having some financial difficulties for the past few years and this is a horrible situation for his family. A fund for his family has been set-up and your kind donations will be much appreciated, I'm sure.

Mick, I hope you make a full recovery.

Repost from the Mick Karn website:

MICK KARN APPEAL - Posted 4th June 2010

With great sadness we regret to inform you that Mick has recently been diagnosed with advanced stages of cancer. Mick is currently in a positive mood and undergoing further tests and treatment. His family and friends are close with him, supporting him in practical ways, and surrounding him with their love, friendship and care.

Mick has been struggling financially for some considerable time now and we are hoping that this appeal may help to raise funds for any necessary treatment and perhaps go some way towards providing a small degree of financial support whilst Mick's immediate family provide the care and comfort we would all wish for him. We are hoping that his friends, fans and musical colleagues will, over the coming months, offer any support they feel capable of giving. Quite aside from the sheer brunt of daunting medically-related costs, Mick's clear and major concern is for the security and well being of his wife and young son.

If you would like to make a donation whether as an individual or as a group, you can do so via the paypal link below which has been set up for this sole and express purpose. Any support you are able to give, no matter how small, could make a difference in helping Mick cope during this difficult period. His friends will be looking at a variety of ways to raise funds.

If you would simply like to leave your kind messages of support for Mick, please do so, here: Messages

Steve Jansen has kindly agreed to donate all proceeds from the sale of any Mick Karn portrait from his website to the Mick Karn Appeal. The images can be purchased from

We will keep you all updated as often as we can.

Please do note that news is released with Mick's full approval.

Posted: 3rd June 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

Practice Concepts: Using A Drone With Fretless

Simple practice tip for fretless: Use a drone to practice with so you are always playing against a tonal reference.

Having studied North Indian music, I decided to utilize their concept of 'drone' (playing with a tambura) into my daily practice regimen as it really helps in getting your ears together on fretless bass.

So an easy way to set this up for practice is to use a software program. I personally use Ableton Live and have a whole practice set-up that I use so it is always ready to go. I have drones in all 12 keys set-up plus various chord sequences drum beats and meters all ready to go so I don't have top waste time setting materials up. I am also always adding new materials to it as I need. It really has become an indispensable tool for my practicing.

I then practice scales, arpeggios, and more with the drone so I am always referencing a tonal center. You can do this with tunes and melodies as well. Also, you can try playing with a drone that isn't the tonal center; from the fifth, fourth, third, or wherever. (try from a half-step!) This makes you hear the intervals in a new context. I feel this has really helped in getting my ears together and I hope it helps you out!

Practice Concepts: Getting A Grasp On The 12 Keys

Feeling bogged down and overwhelmed with learning all of your scales, arpeggios, and modes in all 12 keys? Try this great practice idea I got from the great bassist, Putter Smith.

Practice scales and arpeggios at the pace of one key a week. I thought this was a brilliant idea as it takes a big subject and breaks it down into manageable parts. So, instead of trying to cram all of your major and minor scales, arpeggios, plus modes; in all 12 keys, into your daily practice, proceed weekly through the Circle of 4ths. (You can also use the Circle of 5ths if you prefer) So on Monday of you first week of practice, you start in the key of 'C', then the following Monday you move to 'F', 'Bb' after that, and so on... After 12 weeks, you are back at 'C'.

This way of practicing takes a longer time to unfold as you are on a 12-week cycle (You do get through all 12 keys at least 4 times a year); but remember, we're running a marathon here, not a sprint. The 'up' side is that in the long run, you end up with a more thorough understanding of all of the various keys. Also, you don't spend your entire practice time only working on mechanics and burn yourself out. This way of practicing allows you to make this daunting subject manageable so you can get on to other musical items like learning tunes, playing techniques, and whatnot.

Hope this helps!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dr. John Ciambotti

I just learned today that Dr. John Ciambotti has passed on. He was my chiropractor for years, but so much more. He was the bassist in the underground, influential band Clover, who became Elvis Costello's back-up band on My Aim Is True, Huey Lewis' band (Had songwriting credit on a song or two on Huey Lewis album "Sports"), he played and managed Lucinda Williams, played with John Prine, turned down the Rolling Stones when Bill Wyman left the band, had stories of hanging with just about everybody in Rock & Roll.

He helped a lot of musicians in LA with repetitive motion problems, I benefited greatly from him and know many who have. We always shot the shit at our appointments and talked "shop". He was way into playing upright bass again. My heart goes out to his family.

Dr. John will be sorely missed.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Gig Advice from Dave Carpenter

I was fortunate enough to study with the great bassist Dave Carpenter (Allan Holdsworth, Buddy Rich, Woody Herman, Boz Skaggs, Peter Erskine) for about a year-and-a-half while I was attending CalArts and I learned a lot from him about music and professionalism. I remember that he had some great, simple advice about the requirements for taking a gig.

Dave's simple criteria is as follows:

  1. Who's it with?-You don't want to turn down a gig to play with a big name or a local guy that will take your career to the next level and provide you with real opportunity.
  2. Where's it at?-You want to make sure you can physically get to the gig and you need to know if the gig is down the street or possibly in another state or country.
  3. How much? You want to know what you will be compensated for your time and skills.
This was the order. Notice that money was last. Dave's reasoning was this. If you are offered a gig with Wayne Shorter at a club 5 miles away, but it only paid $50 bucks, you take it. The exposure alone was worth the little money and you get to play with Wayne!

If you are offered a casual gig with a top forty group in 120 miles away, but it pays $300, you take it. Money compensates you for the 7 or more hours of time to do your job.

If Murph and the Magic Tones calls you for a gig at the Holiday Inn, 90 miles away for $25, you can respectfully decline (unless you are really hard up!)

The thing I really liked about this is that it really puts the music and your experience first. If the above scenarios all were offered on the same evening, the Wayne Shorter gig for $50 is still probably the gig to take because simply, the exposure would most likely pay you back ten-fold to the higher paying casual and it takes less of your time. As well, it still gives you time to schedule other gigs or lessons with students before the evenings performance.