The music man: Junior musician stands out


Ellie Ritter

Walk into junior Chris Bass’ house, and you will enter a musician’s sanctuary. Shiny saxophones, polished bass guitars, antique pianos, and a gleaming drum kit line the walls of his home.

These instruments are not just for decoration. Throughout his life, Bass said, he has considered himself “a true musician at heart.”

“I’ve always had a passion for music,” Bass said. “I think, you know, it’s just a part of who I am. It’s just me.”

Bass first started playing the piano when he was six years old. Since then, his repertoire has expanded to include a variety of instruments and genres. From alto saxophone to tenor saxophone to drums, Bass’ knowledge is not limited.

“I think all kinds of music just call to me,” he said. “I just like everything about it. All kinds of music, all kinds of instruments – I can listen to anything.”

The instrument Bass loves playing the most, however, is the drums. For him, nothing beats picking up a pair of drumsticks and tapping out a beat. Bass drums for his rock band, SCOFFLAW, and believes that the experience he’s gained from their performances has been rewarding.

“Playing with SCOFFLAW is one of the best things I’ve done,” he said. “It’s a cool group, and, honestly, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Going up on stage and playing is just crazy.”

In addition to playing with SCOFFLAW, Bass has also been on the drumline for the school’s marching band, as well as the Drum Corps International (DCI) band, the Sacramento Mandarins.

DCI is a group that promotes itself as “marching music’s Major League.” Simply put, professional marching groups from across the country create shows, rehearse them for several months, perform live and compete. The bands are made up of musicians between the ages of 15 and 21, and rehearse and perform over the summer.

The summer after Bass’ sophomore year, when he was 16, he decided to try out for the corps called the Sacramento Mandarins.

“I just thought that joining Mandarins would be really great for me,” Bass said. “All the guys on drum line were really chill, and I thought it would be cool to work on drumming and get to tour the country and all that.”

Although the corps is based in Sacramento, musicians from any state can audition. Bass sent in a video of his drumming, and was accepted into the group.

“It was a lot of work, but it was definitely worth it,” Bass said. “I mean, for real, I got to play in front of thousands of people at the Georgia Dome. Nothing can top that.”

Bass (fourth from left) poses with the Mandarins’ drumline. Their 2014 show was called “UnbreakABLE: The Human Spirit is Limitless.”

But that’s not all: Bass also can play both the alto and tenor saxophone. Bass is the second-chair alto saxophone player in Decatur’s band, and has been accepted into the Georgia All-State and District Honor Bands, the University of Georgia’s JanFest, and the Berklee College of Music summer program.

Bass chose to play the lustrous instrument in the fifth grade because he thought it “was the only one that fit who [he] was.”

“It just felt right to me,” Bass said. “Something about the way it sounds and the way it feels to play it are just my kind of thing.”

No matter what instrument he has at his fingertips, Bass tries to “surround [himself] with music all the time – playing it, listening to it, anything.” And no matter what, he wants to keep music in his life forever.

Even when he leaves the piano, packs up his sax or puts down his drum sticks, his music will follow him.

“I don’t know for sure what I’m gonna do yet, but I do know that music will always stay with me,” Bass said. “I never wanna give it up. I want this to be a part of who I am.”