ABOVE: The spread of "Bliss Extremes" from the Fall 2005-Winter 2006 issue of Coastal Magazine
On Oct. 7, 2005, Coastal Carolina University hosted an event unlike anything ever seen—or, more appropriately, heard—on campus. On that evening, the best bass guitar players on the planet were in Wheelwright Auditorium for the Bass Extremes International Solo Bass Competition and Concert. The glitterati of the bass music world gathered to compete and to jam in an event that brought a new level of originality and stature to Coastal’s cultural arts programming.
The idea for the event began as a result of a series of conversations between Steve Bailey, the world-renowned bassist and artist-in-residence at CCU, President Ronald Ingle, CCU music department chair Philip Powell, and local arts patron and CCU supporter Fred Newby. What originated as a planning session for a college band competition eventually morphed into brainstorming for an original new event that would tie in to Bailey’s own creative specialty as a bass artist and teacher.
The final result was the Oct. 7 event at Wheelwright. In concept much like the Van Cliburn Piano Competition, the Bass Extremes event was, according to Bailey, “designed to give exposure to those bassists who might otherwise never have the chance to let the world hear their innovative and explorative musical techniques.”
Nearly 140 musicians from 19 different countries around the world entered the competition. The judges for the event included such bass stars as Victor Wooten of Bela Fleck’s Flecktones, Will Lee of the Late Show with David Letterman’s CBS Orchestra, Anthony Jackson and Greg Bissonette. The judges narrowed the range to a semifinal pool of 20 contestants. From these, four finalists were chosen to perform and compete at the event itself.
The winner was Jeff Schmidt of San Rafael, Calif., who won prizes and cash totaling more than $10,000. Zuzo Moussawer of Brazil won second place, Boris Kozlov of Russia won third and Robert Riegler of Austria was named fourth runner-up.
The next event of this kind planned for Coastal will be the International Solo Bass Competition Workshop, which will also culminate in a concert of celebrity bassists. The date and details will be announced later.
The cover of the Fall 2005-Winter 2006 Coastal Magazine