The history of the Golden Gate Bass Camp

The Golden Gate Bass Camp has been uniting double bassists in San Francisco for over two decades, and camp director Richard Duke sat down to share some of the history of this important annual bass community event.

With Richard Duke · San Francisco, CA

I think now is, this end result of a long process that started 25 plus years ago. So it really comes from Barry Green‘s initial efforts when he moved back to the Bay Area.

About the time I was finishing school in Santa Cruz, my old teacher mentioned “Hey, there’s this thing going on. You might want to check it out, it’s at Davies–it’s a bass thing.” is all he told me.

It was one of these all day long bass bashes that Barry put on, involving both students and professional in performances and master classes.

San Francisco is a big city, and there are so many artists here, and that was probably one of the biggest points I wanted to feature at this bass camp in San Francisco. There are so many awesome players here that I just wanted them to be part of it.

Dan Robbins is one of our good friends. He has this amazing sense of how to work his gear and to make this piece of music right in front of you, with some loops and some harmony and some accompaniment, and then playing solos over the top of it.

Michael Manring is the sweetest person on the planet, and he’s been blowing minds since I picked up the bass in the eighties. And I can’t believe he’s here and so willing to come in and work with kids.

There are usually some classes that are more geared towards beginners. At the same time, there’s something for more like intermediate or advanced kids and people sort themselves out really well.

My goal is just to get good teachers who have similar views on wanting to help people wherever they’re at, and you put them in the same place and then give students a choice.

We don’t try and dictate much beyond putting them in small ensembles. And even there, we like, if somebody wants to move, we do it.

Not everybody needs to go into music as profession. But being a supporter of music in the arts is the overarching goal.

Richard Duke, Golden Gate Bass Camp Director
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