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Alzona Watsons bass lines arehow should we put itinfluenced.

The unassuming bassist from Fletcher, VT began playing the electric bass (he asked that I be specific about that one) at the age of ten. I took a break for a year and then started up again he says. Typically its a seasoned musician who takes a year-long break from their instrument to combat musical plateaus and pursue other creative endeavors. Between the ages of ten and eleven, however, Watson seemed to have reached that point already without any formal training. Will Watson: Youre completely self-taught, right? Alzona Watson: Yes, self-taught, save for a few lessons in college. His reply is casual. Thats because by college, Watson had already played an impressive list of venues and events including local art festivals and benefit concerts, as well as Nectars and Higher Ground in Burlington. Hes also busy rolling himself a funny looking cigarette. WW: Youre from a small town though, right? AW: Yes, thats rightvery rural. And my parents dont play any instruments. So what inspired a young man to pick up the electric bass guitar in what seemed to be a completely infertile musical environment? AW: Well, mom used to play piano a little bitshe could probably still play Chopsticks. Hey! Did you know Chopsticks was made by a sixteen year old girl in the 1800s? I read that in the Bathroom Reader. (laughs) WW: No, I didnt know that. Watson, as he and I recall, was instantly dedicated to his instrument. I dont know. I just liked it, he finally admits, laughing a bit and searching hopelessly for a lighter. The first song Watson learned was Sidewinder, a bass drill featured in Hal Leonards Beginner Bass Methods I, II, and III. AW: It was great! It was the whole set, you know. It was the book and it came with all the CDs. [Sidewinder] was probably 32 bars, but I played that so much. Then I started listening to the classics, like Jaco [Pastorious].

He clarifies that he is unable to read music. His list of idols goes on: Victor Wooten, Stanley Clarke, Bootsy Collins, and the guy from Earth, Wind and Fireold school funk bass lines. But Watson didnt begin listening to these funk masters right away. AW: It started out with bands like AC/DC, Led Zeppelin (bassist John Paul Jones), The Who (bassist John Entwistle). I get my stage persona from Entwistle: not really moving around much, just there laying it down. Watson has brought this presence to the four major projects he has been a part of throughout his decade long tenure on bass: The Alzona Watson Band, Atomic Railroad, Crooks, and most recently, Rabbit, Runnot bad for a twenty year old who dropped out of college because he knew that it wasnt right for him. Watson has clearly found other ways of staying busy, though. AW: The Alzona Watson Band was our group in high school. We did a lot of Allman Brothers covers. One of the lead guitarists, Dylan Day, wanted to name the band after the bassist because the bassist never gets the cred. The first time I got to record was with Atomic Railroad. I was seventeen years old. We were a blues/funk trio. The second time I got to record was with Crooks in Baltimore in the summer of 2012. That had more of a hip-hop feel. And now Im playing with Rabbit, Run, which is totally different. While Watsons early musical influences are variedthough not atypical for an aspiring bassisthe has begun making a serious departure from his traditional blues approach through his involvement in Rabbit, Run. Watson began collaborating with fellow Burlington musician and songwriter, Matthew Wagner, also a founding member of Crooks. Watson is now the featured bassist on Wagners newest project, Rabbit, Run, which emphasizes smart acoustic guitar and mandolin work, very clever lyrics in addition to some of the tastiest co-ed vocal harmonies Ive ever had the pleasure of hearing. The group gave their debut performance 24 February, 2013 at the Radio Bean located in the heart of downtown Burlington. The Radio Bean also sits on the cusp of the North End which is known for its large, multicultural community of college students,

bohemians, immigrants, and refugees. Watson reflects on the experience after having not played a paying gig since the summer of 2012. AW: It was fun. It kind of brought that spark back after playing the two biggest venues in Burlington (Nectars and Higher Ground). Theres only like a one in a million chance of actually making it, but to play a gig and think this is possibleits that little taste. Thats always good. WW: Can you describe what the music is like? AW: Its kind of folky, a little bluesSouthern bluesyou know, that upbeat thing. WW: How did you feel immediately after the show? AW: I love that after-gig feeling of feeling accomplished and a little sleepy. WW: Were you nervous to perform again? AW: No. I only get nervous when Im high. So yeah, all of the time. (laughs) I know hes only jokingbecause he doesnt seem nervous at all right now. I want to squeeze a little more out of him before that accomplished, sleepy feeling begins to set in during our interview, though. WW: What are your plans for the future? AW: Well, I was just thinking the other day after a couple of drinks, smoking the last cigarette of the day, and I was thinking about that impression you leave when you die, like that imprint. And you know how you can get into a sub-genre that only a handful of people really listen to? Id like to find that and after I die, even if only a thousand people hear me playing and say to themselves, That guy was a really good bassist, thats all Id want. What seems like a profound, maybe even absurd, response is, in fact, exactly what so many other musicians want as well: to be admired and respected amongst an exclusive group of peers. Watsons genuine admiration for the respect of his fellow man is present in his music: his unwavering stage presence and his ability to transition seamlessly from one genre to the next willingly and willfully confirm that. He remains transparent, steadfast, and doesnt seem to acknowledge a meaningful distinction between his past, present, and future. AW: Thats what I want now, too: for people to hear me play and say, That guy is a really good bassist.

At first, nothing seems to matter to this young vagabond whos only got a bass guitar and a pack of rolling papers to his name. But in another light, everything seems to matters to him, but only what hes found to be really important, that being the music and especially the people making it. While Watson has contemplated going back to college in the fall, one thing is for sure: hell continue searching for that niche, and maybe a few more of those green flakes he dropped on the table too.