rockford illinois entertainment guide
Date: 06/03/2004
Spotlight on Bass - Dave Kaye
by Lisa Palmeno
Hello again, bass fans. Didn't mean to dis' you like that, but I've been a bit busy. I'm now working as a publicist and have been traveling quite a bit. This is a special Spotlight for me, as Dave Kaye is the one who sparked my interest in bass players. I plan to cover more of the bassists whose names are in the little heart-shaped box this summer. So, keep checking the Beetcafe! There's more to come.

Chicago born and raised, Groovemaster Dave Kaye made Rockford his home three years ago. Kaye began playing area venues several years ago as Brother K and with Steve Ditzell and Blue Lightning. An international performer, he received the title "groovemaster", or "groovemeister" (in Germany), for his ability to get into many different grooves.

Kaye is one of the few bassists who possesses lead guitarist stage presence, also working as band leader, lead vocalist, back-up vocalist, song-writer/arranger, bass-line composer, and emcee.

His professional career began at an early age after first spending several years studying and working on rhythm and blues on drums, bass, guitar, and piano with his brother, Greg Kaye. Kaye was first hired by Joe Kelley, the former bass player for Shadows of Knight, a group that made a #1 hit of Van Morrison's song "Gloria" in the '60s. Joining Kelley's The Blue Shadow Band in 1985, Kaye toured the Midwest and Canada for five solid years on the blues circuit out of Chicago.

From 1990 to 1993, Kaye continued touring the Midwest and Canada with Duke Tumato's former guitarist, Southside Denny. He recorded on Denny's first solo effort Southside Denny and wrote the lyrics and music for "Your Move," which appeared on the same album.

While working with Denny, Kaye met Steve Ditzell (former Junior Wells guitarist) and Drummer Marty Binder (from Albert Collins' and Buddy Guys' bands). Together, they formed Blue Lightning Band, a tough rockin' blues combo that has been awarded Best of Rockford four times at On The Waterfront and has opened for Guess Who, Canned Heat and The Wallflowers. A highlight of Blue Lightning's career came when Ditzell hired Junior Wells to record with them on a project.

Kaye continued working with both Denny and Ditzell until late '93 when Robert Grossman approached Kaye about leading his band, R.G. and The Allstars. It was with R.G. that Kaye developed his skills as a band leader, and the group was booked solid for three and a half years, performing 250 gigs per year.

Still maintaining commitments with Brother K and Blue Lightning, Kaye accepted an offer from former Junior Wells' bassist George Baze to play every Tuesday at Blues Chicago, where he worked with Chicago's premier blues musicians and singers such as Alan Batts, James Wheeler, Zora Young, L.V. Banks, and Grana Louise. Kaye recorded on Banks' Ruby and played his first Chicago Blues Festival with Louise. The contacts he made, along with a growing reputation as an outstanding player and showman, prompted Chicago bass player/band leader Willie Kent to call Kaye to fill in for him with his band The Gents while Kent headed to New York to accept an award.

Earwig Recording Artist and Blues Diva Liz Mandville Greeson was working at Blues Chicago at the same time, and she and Kaye, who had previously crossed paths on the Midwestern and Canadian tours over the years, collaborated. Kaye recorded on Greeson's last two CDs, Ready To Cheat and Back In Love Again, and on the soon-to-be-released Jezebel. Kaye created the bass lines for all three CDs and emcees for Liz's band, The Blue Points.

With Greeson, he has toured extensively in the U.S., has completed two tours of Germany with the legendary David "Honeyboy" Edwards, and has opened up for Robert Cray twice. They also opened up for Clarence Gatemouth Brown and Delbert McClinton. Upon returning from Germany in March 2003, they headlined at the Park West in Chicago at an extravaganza featuring Honeyboy, Mary Lane, and former Rolling Stones harmonica player Sugar Blue.

In the summer of 2003, president of Alligator Records, Bruce Iglauer, called Kaye personally and asked him to tour with Australian Slide Guitarist Dave Hole for six weeks. From August to September 13 of that year, the band played 36 shows, coast to coast, including Edmonton Blues Festival in Canada, opening for John Hammond and Ruth Brown. The tour ended with a memorable finale at Buddy Guy's Legends.
Other major performances include gigs with Bo Diddley, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Homesick James, and Drummer Sam Lay (Bob Dylan's band and Paul Butterfield Blues Band). Kaye has jammed with Otis Rush, Buddy Guy and Rick Nielsen. He also worked for Chicago Shakespeare Theatre in their 1998 production of Henry V.

Throughout his career, Kaye never lost sight of Brother K. He and brother Greg have held regular weekly shows in Chicago since 1995 (Lilly's for one year), Tommy Guns for the year in 1996, and Cue Club in 1997. Brother K currently performs in Chicago every Wednesday night at Town Hall Pub (since 1996) and every Monday night at Friar Tuck's (since 2000). Brother Greg runs both shows when Dave is on the road.

Local venues Kaye continues to play include Big Cities Lounge, Rocky's, Thunder Bay Grille(with Ernie "Sugar Lips" Brown), Grant Park Tap.

Kaye cites Jaco Pastorius, Stanley Clark, Bill Wyman, and Charles Mingus as early bass influences.

Kaye plays a 4-string Fender bass because he "likes the feel of it" and because he say's it's easy to transport. As for his approach, Kaye's philosophy is that "bass is not meant to be heard, but to be felt." The spectacular, pulsating, varied solos he offers are impressive, giving one the notion that it's not quite as easy as he makes it look.

What's the key to his success? His commitment to his favorite instrument is undeniable when he states with confidence, "I never want to do anything else but play the groove."
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