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Saturday, 18 March 2017 08:00

Award-winning bassist expanding her musical horizons

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Lisa Dodd's newest project, Vinyl Hampdin has allowed her to sing some jazzy numbers. Lisa Dodd's newest project, Vinyl Hampdin has allowed her to sing some jazzy numbers. Photo contributed

Lisa Dodd has been blessed with a prowess to play the bass guitar. The gifted 40-something Special Areas resident was just nominated for a Canadian Country Music Association 2016 Bass Player of the Year award and she finds out whether she wins Sept. 10 at the CCMA Awards show in Saskatoon. 

In January, Dodd was given the Association for Country Music in Alberta’s award for 2016 Musician of the Year. This is the first year the ACMA has included a category for Musician of the Year and includes all instruments instead of having a separate category for each instrument.
Dodd has also won two CCMAs previously as being named to the 2012 and 2015 All Star Band — Bass while being nominated in 2013 and 2014 for the same honour. It’s the first and only time a woman has been bestowed that honour.
Her bass playing has been with Canadian country star Gord Bamford who has been touring throughout North America and Europe the past few years.
Dodd is not one dimensional. She also sings and not just back-up behind Bamford or recently during a short Alberta stint with Julian Austin.
However if you ask her today what she’s really excited about, it’s a project with some other musicians where she is providing the lead vocals.
Dodd is leading a group of all-star musicians calling themselves Vinyl Hampdin. What they created in a well-known Denver studio is a unique sounding jazz recording.
Dodd says the mastermind behind this project was musician and composer, Steve ‘Admiral’ Wiest, who is a University of Denver music professor but has been part of Grammy-nominated projects including the One-O’Clock Lab Band which also featured Ryan Davidson, Dodds’ Gord Bamford guitarist bandmate.
Wiest and Davidson met at the University of North Texas where Wiest was a professor.
“This was undeniably the most intimidating project I have ever worked on. It’s very different from anything I’ve ever done and way out of my comfort zone,” explains Dodd who adds they worked extremely hard for four days of recording.
“I am the only one who doesn’t read music at a professional level and the only one who didn’t attend university. Some of these guys are serious heavies in the New York and LA music scenes and all of them can play any piece of music you put in front of them. Steve could have taken his pick from hundreds of jazz singers who can do vocal gymnastics and sing precise, complex, chromatic 64th notes that would make you dizzy, but what he said he wanted was a ballsy powerhouse rock singer. I’m so beyond honoured that he chose me.”
Wiest and Davidson worked together on another project a few years ago called Concerto For Folded Space where all of the tracks were done in different parts of North America and emailed to the studio to be mixed.
This time, Wiest decided to bring the musicians together in Denver at the  university to record.
Dodd says it took nearly a year and “several small miracles to plan, write, organize and then get everyone in the same place at the same time.”
Wiest moved to the University of Denver a couple of years ago.
When Davidson and Dodd came through Colorado last year playing with Gord Bamford’s band, Wiest attended one of their shows.
“(Wiest)  heard me sing Eye Of The Tiger that night and decided somehow that I had the voice he wanted for what he described as a rocked out, incredibly funky, jaw-dropping piece of ear candy,” she says. “I was incredibly honoured to be chosen, especially considering the calibre of the rest of musicians in VH. The trumpet player, Frank Greene plays with Paul Shaffer and The World’s Most Dangerous Band and did the Letterman show until Dave retired. The saxophonist, Ray Herrmann plays with the band Chicago. A few of the members of VH are from Maynard Ferguson’s band. The list of accolades goes on for miles.”
The band has released four individual songs on YouTube since early 2017 with the last one released March 8. It was a smash success. They’ve only completed six songs so far, but their plan consists of going back in June to finish a full length album hopefully to be released in September.
“We were very surprised. Our first video release was a cover of Stevie Wonder’s hit Superstition which hit 20,000 views the first day. We were pretty blown away by the response and the support we got from the online music community,” says Dodd. “Once we finish recording the last few songs, we’ll be available on iTunes and have physical copies.”
She says the jazz compilation was different in that trying to cram six songs into four days in a ultra state-of-the-art studio with multiple Grammy Award-winning videographer and director Andy Laviolette capturing every second was unique — not to mention how the group became a cohesive unit prior to actually recording.
“We created a private online group to chat, share ideas and get to know each other before we got to Denver so we were all semi-familiar before some of us actually met,” explains Dodd.
“Recording with these musical monsters was so exciting and fresh. I’d never worked with a horn section before so it was shockingly powerful. Since we’d never played any of the material before, we did a couple of passes of each song to rehearse first, then recorded a couple of takes, then went back to overdub solos or fix little things that needed tweaking. It was really cool to hear each song spring to life from some notes on paper.
“I’m always eager to learn and try new things and I like to get out of my comfort zone. It’s good for the creative soul. I try not to let fear or common sense get in the way of an amazing experience, a great story or a really good time. Steve’s enthusiasm is very contagious and once he sets his mind to a project you either get on the train or get off the track ... it’s happening.”
Dodd is still Bamford’s bassist, but does freelancing gigs between times. She accepts work with artists such as  Austin earlier in the winter in Fort McMurray just to keep busy and working. However, there’s no plan on leaving the talented Canadian country crooner. 
“I hope I never slow down. Gord Bamford is still my main gig. I’ve been with him for five years and still love every single show. The guys in the Gord Bamford band are my family away from home (in Hanna) and I count my blessings every day that I get to make music with them.”

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor