(USA) Double Bass/Electric Bass/Vocals
The enigmatic Mr Klopfenstein describes himself as “Only the bass player” but, and a big but at that, he quite simply has to be seen to be believed. Not only is he more than capable of laying a solid backbone behind the melodies, his outrageous bass solos’ are famous for their audacity and originality. To see Jim in action is something else, with his wiry frame wrestling with the big double bass, putting his heart and soul into getting incredible tone and emotion out of the beast, eyes closed, brow furrowed, tiptoeing, face contorting, Jim’s a show on his own! He can play subtle too! and he even writes songs.
Jim was born on a nearly normal summers’ day in the midwest in 1956. His family repeatedly moved from one place to the next because of his fathers’ job. When Jim was 9 they finally stayed in one place for more than a couple of years, Long Island, New York. The Beatles cartoons and the Monkees TV shows were at that time on television, and turned Jim on to the wonderful world of music.
His mother and father played the piano and organ respectively and at the age of 10 Jim took up playing the trumpet, becoming the first among his siblings to play an instrument and he blew it for 3 years, (Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass!).
His older brother bought some records that still influence him to this day, The Band and Buffalo Springfield to name but two. He bought his first guitar with money earned from a paper round job, and was intrigued by the music of Crosby, Stills, Kelloggs & Cornflakes (Nash & Young, sorry!, the later already an influence together with Stills in Buffalo Springfield). Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane/ Starship, the list is long.
Folk, Bluegrass and country, were already prominent in the music of the Grateful Dead. Figuring he couldn’t ever play fast like the other guys in town, he then took up the bass guitar. His sisters’ (now ex) husband, John Wallace, became the bassist for the late Harry Chapin, (biggest hit – “Cats in the Cradle”, covered in 1992 by Ugly Kid Joe) who was then recording his first album for Elektra records. Jazz dominated when Jim went to college, and his sister worked for several years for the German label ECM.
Except for some theory, Jim never studied music in this period, and in 1978, with his youthful disappointments, he dropped out of college and treked off to Europe with musical buddys’ Steve Stress, a talented multi-instrumentalist who had studied Indian classical music, and singer Sabine Bass. This was the time of groups such as Oregon and Weather Report and the stupid phrase “World Music” had yet to be coined (although groups like these started it all!). Together they busked their way around Europe playing Country, Bluegrass and Django Reinhardt on the streets. Eventually they ended up in Switzerland where they got a lot of gigs. Jim lived there for a time and has continued to play there on and off for years. In 1980 he settled in Munich after splitting up with the original group, meeting many new people, including his now ex-wife Marie-Jo.
Jim has played with numerous formations in the musical styles already mentioned. Exactly how many he can’t say “Cos he can’t count past 4, 4 and a half, 5…..” He has a daughter, Sophie-Claire, who also lives in Munich, and a son, Samuel who lives in Erlangen, and he’s really proud of them and their respective mothers’. His heroes of the bass include Jaco Pastorius, Phil Lesh, Verdine White from Earth Wind and Fire and Miroslav Vitous, the great contrabassist for the original Weather Report, to name but a few. Aside from music and fatherhood Jims’ interests include astrology, daydreaming, nature walks, birds, rain, mountains, clouds, history and anthropology. He is currently listening to an Olivia Newton-John CD he’s just bought… and why not!?!