The Allman Brothers Band

The Michael Jordan of Bass Players

Macon Telegraph, 16 April 2004

If you catch Oteil Burbridge live, he’ll make you do one of two things: take off your shoes or get on your feet.

Burbridge, called the Michael Jordan of bass players by some of his peers, is scheduled to play tonight at 550 Blues with his band, the Peacemakers. Admission is $10.

The show starts around 10-ish. Expect funk, jazz, gospel, bluegrass, classical and Cuban and Latin rhythms.

Burbridge started fooling around with a bass guitar at age 14. Seeing his passion and potential, his father turned him on to jazz and fusion bass greats such as Jaco and Stanley Clarke. Burbridge soaked it all in, as well as the funk doctrine of Larry Graham, Bootsy Collins and others.

He’d play anywhere. As a 17-year-old, he’d play jazz clubs, heavy metal halls, whatever. Soon he experienced his moment of clarity – a Weather Report concert. It changed his life – and the life of jam-band fanatics who follow Burbridge’s work.

“It completely floored me,” said Burbridge, specifically highlighting Jaco’s playing. “The composition, playing, sensitivity, the listening, the fire was on point. I felt every emotion from joy, sadness to exhilaration. It was unbelievable. Right then, I told myself I’d endure any pain and suffering to achieve that. And I did.”

Years later he fell under the tutelage of the always amazing Col. Bruce Hampton (Burbridge: “He rescued me,”). Burbridge and the colonel went on to form the genre-breaking Aquarium Rescue Unit. Eventually, he landed on a side project with Butch Trucks and before he knew it, he was the bassist for the Allman Brothers Band. Burbridge, although not a household name, was well on his way to becoming a jam-band legend.

“It’s hard for me to see myself like that. I remember I totally freaked out when I met (world-class drummer and musician) Kenwood Dennard,” he said. “I was like, “Dude, you’re a god, man. I should be setting up equipment for like 10 years.'”

Burbridge and his band should tear the roof off 550 Blues tonight.

Greg Fields is the entertainment writer for The Telegraph. To contact him, call 744-4251 or e-mail

Copyright (c) 2004 Macon Telegraph. All rights reserved.


Leave a Reply