Virtuoso is a word that should be used rarely. But when discussing someone that oozes talent and skill like Cincinnati's Freekbass (born Chris Sherman), we feel comfortable applying the noun.
Freekbass is a musician that never stops growing and developing. He's worked with such music gods as Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell, and Buckethead. He's wowed festival-goers as an artist-at-large close to home at numerous Bear Creek Music Festivals. He crafted a nearly perfect funk album with his band the Bump Assembly,
The album is a bit of a return to pure funk-roots form for Freekbass, back from the electronic sound he's developed in recent years. Freekbass is looking to bring that heavy funk to Florida for a string of four shows starting off with a pre-New Year's Eve show at the Funky Biscuit that promises to completely bring the house down.
Freekbass took the time to speak with us about his humble beginnings, working with musical giants, and his new album before heading down to the Sunshine State to shows us how it's done in Cincinnati.
When did you first realize you had such passion for music and the bass in particular? How did the transformation into larger than life Freekbass come about?
I've been gigging since I was a real young kid. I started off as a drummer at like 6 or 7, banging around on stuff. But it was in sixth grade, there was a school assembly put on by Oberlin Music College, a big school in Northern Ohio, and confidently, they sat me infront of the bass player. And as soon as I heard the sound and the rhythm coming from him, I found my calling. Even the way I approach bass now, I tell people I'm kind of like a drummer that plays notes, with percussive melodies and such.
As far as the Freekbass transformation, it was Bootsy Collins that named me that. We were in the studio, and because of all the crazy effects and all the weird stuff I do on bass, he kept saying, "Hey, do that freaky bass thing." And then all of a sudden the engineers and everybody just started calling me Freekbass and it stuck. Even my mom occasionally calls me Freekbass, it's kind of crazy. It's like the Clark Kent/Superman or Bruce Wayne/Batman alternate persona thing going on, it's amazing.
You've worked with behemoths in the music industry including Buckethead, Bootsy Collins, and Bernie Worrell. What's it like working with such legends?
To be able to sit in a studio and record with these people is amazing. Bernie Worrell, during the recording of my last album, actually stayed at my house in Cinnincinati for a week. I remember sitting upstairs thinking, "Wow, this is so bizarre. Bernie Worrell is sleeping right now downstairs, right now." (laughs)
He such an amazing person, as well as Bootsy and Buckethead. It's just amazing to see the legends work, and they have the best attitudes. Genuinely great people. A part of it has to do with growing up in Cincinnati, being surrounded by the strong funk history there. My friends were learning Nirvana and Green Day songs while I was learning songs by Zapp and Dr. Dre.