Damien "Dee" Bone: Goin' Mobile

July 1, 2013
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DAMIEN “DEE” BONE IS A MAN ON THE MOVE. BOUNCING all over the stage with the Weeks, his scissors-like fingerstyle work creates perpetual motion. The wiry young Mississippian will hunker down on a particularly straightforward tune—he certainly plays closer to the vest in the studio—but even a quick listen to the Weeks’ new CD, Dear Bo Jackson, reveals considerable kinetic energy coming from the bass player in the unique Southern alternative ensemble.

“King-Sized Death Bed” is a fine example of your bass line propelling the Weeks. How did it come about?

That song actually started with the bass line, which is unusual. Sam [guitarist Sammy D] and I watched a documentary about Buddy Holly that inspired the bass line, and the song took off from there. I also hear a country influence, which surely comes from living in Nashville for the past few years. The rhythm section is straightforward and soft. I don’t play the same notes over and over, but you kind of feel like I do because even though there is a lot of motion, the bass line weaves in subtly with everything else.

What goes through your mind when you play such a line?

I think like a jazz player playing through changes. I try to understand the full chords Sam provides so I can come up with something interesting. I don’t purposely avoid roots or 5ths. That’s all I play on some songs, but I’m open to all possibilities. I look for opportunities to play passing notes—turnarounds are good.

You bounce between positions on the fingerboard quite a bit.

That comes from seven years of playing songs together. You learn ways to play the exact same thing in positions all over the neck. I can play all of our songs staying in the 1st position, but it gets boring night after night on tour. It’s more interesting when I move around and maybe even play something different. Why not?

Your fingerstyle plucking technique appears quite traditional and disciplined.

I studied jazz and classical music on upright at Belhaven University, where they taught me, “Don’t play the same string with the same finger twice consecutively— alternate.” I use my index and middle fingers. Once you can alternate fast enough, you can play just as well as with a pick, which doesn’t sound as warm.

Did you finish school?

No. We all dropped out of Belhaven together to do the band full-time after one of our best friends passed away. It was a make-or-break moment for us. We decided not to wait around to see if degrees would lead to jobs playing music. We made it happen.

INFO

LISTEN

The Weeks, Dear Bo Jackson [Relativity, 2013]

EQUIP

Basses Fender American Vintage ’62 Jazz Bass
Rig Ampeg SVT- 450H, Eden D115XLT 1x15 cabinet
Strings D’Addario EXL170 Nickel Round Wound (.040–.100)

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