By: Raymond Maher – Staff Writer
Listen closely as the “Stu Chant” echoes from the walls of the Oddbody’s Music Room Friday.
Dayton will welcome the Stu Hamm Band on Dec. 4. As an experienced world traveler, Hamm has seen extraordinary places. However, Ohio holds a special place in his heart. It is the birthplace of the “Stu Chant,” a long-standing cheer any fan would recognize.
He noted, “Ohio can take the credit…or blame for that.”
The Dayton community will have the opportunity Friday to experience an artist who mastered the craft of instrumental music and innovative music style. Bass player Hamm will showcase his new band, which highlights his legendary playing techniques.
Hamm’s several decades-long career is characterized by his personal history, playing style, writing process and timeless passion. I recently had the opportunity to interview Hamm and all of these characteristics were on full display throughout our discussion.
Hamm, a native of Champaign, Illinios, has contributed to several contemporary styles of bass today: These include slapping and two-hand tapping techniques.
Hamm recalled that as a teenager, he had an initial inclination to experiment with the bass.
“I watched James Brown’s bass player pull the strings, which was really cool,” Hamm said. “So I drove to the nearest music store to try that style, and the owner of the store tried to have me arrested.”
There are established techniques for all instruments, and Hamm began to push the norm for the electric bass.
A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Stu would later record and tour with highly acclaimed guitarists Steve Vai and Joe Satriani.
He established a reputation as a high-octane bass player. His ability to captivate audiences with solo bass pieces is unprecedented. Engaging new audiences while reaffirming tradition has never been difficult for Hamm.
“It can be a double-edge sword but it’s certainly a gift,” Hamm said. “How many bass players have signature bits people want to hear?”
Hamm welcomes this challenge with his current touring band, the Stu Hamm Band, featuring guitarist Alex Skolnick and drummer Joel Taylor. The group is exhaustingly talented, and produces a bouncy, hard rock sound. They can be loud, and their songs are filled with pounding solos, yet there is an intimate connection created with the audience through every note. There is emotion.
“I have to give each of them time to do their thing,” he said. “There has to be that freedom to express themselves.”
Hamm has been an instrumentalist his entire career. He is also a writer who thrives off of his personal experience.
“When words stop, music takes over,” Hamm said. “When Steve Vai was asked why he writes strictly in instrumental, he said, ‘Well, words can misinterpret the meaning.’”
Hamm’s music transcends conventional means of personal expression. He intuitively understands that a solo bass piece can lift people, provide understanding, and even make them feel nostalgic. Hamm is more than a musician; he is a storyteller.
The Stu Hamm Band will take the stage at Oddbody’s 8 p.m. Dec. 4. The band’s new album, “Book of Lies,” will be performed alongside classic bits the group has arranged. A phenomenal bass player with a well-established tradition and a gift for storytelling, seeing Stu Hamm perform live is a rare opportunity.