The Jim Fielder Connection

For those of you who don't know, Jim Fielder was the original bass player with Blood Sweat & Tears. Not only did the band chart new worlds in music, Jim's bass playing had a profound effect of my focus and direction as a bassist since the first time I heard the band in the late '60's. I guess it's interesting, to me anyway, that Jim is not only at the top of my "Top Ten Bassists" but also one of the earliest of members and he remains at the top of the list to this day. Just in case you are thinking "You've Made Me So Very Happy" (which is fine), go out and listen to "More and More" or "Smiling Phases" from BS&T II, "Somethin's Comin' On" from BS&T III, "Go Down Gambling" from IV... OK, I'll stop!

Fast forward to the early '80's... Louise and I went to see Neil Sedaka at Westbury Music Fair LI, NY. Yeah, I know what you're sayin'... Neal Sedaka! OK, so you sell 40 MILLION records in 5 years (1958-63) and then I'll go see your band, OK? Anyway, the bassist looks totally familiar. Jazz bass sitting way up high... Yup. It's Jim Fielder.

Fast again... I am looking for cool old stuff to download (anybody got any Ten Wheel Drive-Genya Ravan-NO, not Ten Years After-Alvin Lee) and I do a search on Jim Fielder. Up comes Neal Sedaka (OK, would you guys stop bashing Neal Sedaka-the guy is a friggin' LEGEND, OK?). I see a Lancaster PA date for May 21. I compose an email to Sedaka's management people asking if Jim is indeed on this gig (of course I had to tell them about Jim being one of my influences and how my son, now 15, is also a Jim fan, etc.). The following day I get a message from Alyse Fielder (Jim's wife) who said that she cc'd Jim and he was thrilled and would love to meet us at the show in Lancaster!

A week before, Alyse wrote to let us know that we were "ON" for pre-show and that Jim was looking forward to meeting us. 10:00am day of the show, Nick and I were "hanging out" with a couple of guitar players from our church who are just back from college finals (needing some advice and guitar mods from Dr. Hack) and the phone rings... "Oh Todd, it's Jim Fielder on the phone!" I know that at 52 you're not a schoolgirl anymore but I have to admit that I was a bit light headed. It was Jim calling to verify the details and that he was looking forward to meeting Nick, Louise, and I.

Alyse was right. Jim IS a really sweet guy (after all, she lives with the guy, she should know). Even though pressed for time (their limo driver got lost), Jim took us backstage to see his instrument, the setup, etc. and spent a lot of time with Nick, Louise and me (Jim seemed MUCH more interested in Nick-probably because Nick was full of questions and excitement and I was unusually quiet and at a loss for words as 37 years of listening and loving this guy's playing were floating around in my head). We got to snap a couple of photos and hang out for sound check. Even though I have "bummed" 100's of tickets for friends and customers over the years, I usually pay my own way and I guess that surprised Jim as he was all set to comp us. When he found out we had tickets, he personally made his way to the box office mgr. and made sure we got "best available" so we could be down in front for the show.

The show was, as is usual for Neal Sedaka, top shelf, meticulous, and letter perfect, although predictable. The audience LOVED the guy (the average age was probably 72 at this venue-lotsa Buicks and Gray Hairs). After the numerous encores, Elvis left the building (Neal shows up about 2 minutes before the show and leaves immediately following), and as we were instructed, we hung out at our seats. Jim came by after the show to hang a bit. Again, he was mostly focused on Nick and the two of them talked animatedly about music and bass and instruments and practicing. I had a great night but I think Nick got more out of it than I did (or so we will let him think) as much of the advice offered up by Jim are things that I tell Nick but they are much more "heard" when coming from someone like Jim Fielder (not a surprise here).

OK, enough of me. Here are some photos. The folks you don't recognize are Vince and Jeanine. Jeanine knows Alyse Fielder from a classical education forum in which they both take part. While waiting for the band to show, we had some very nice conversation and experience some TOTALLY fine dining at the Lancaster PA WENDY's (yuck!) as the average wait at the other restaurants was about an hour. We very much enjoyed the company though and I although I treated them to my driving as we drove from restaurant to restaurant, they didn't seem to mind.