Keene State music faculty member Steve Cady, along with artists Forbes Graham and Caroline Davis, took the stage at Brewbakers Cafe this past Friday night in a solo bassist set.
When choosing the pieces to perform, Cady said he chose based on “what would speak well with what [Graham and Davis] would be playing.”
Cady recognizes that the bass is an instrument that is typically heard outside of supporting a longer ensemble, so he was excited for the opportunity to highlight that instrument. Especially interesting at his performance was his use of both a traditional bass and the bass guitar.
“The bass is capable of lyrical playing…[I want to] allow the instrument to really be seen and heard,” said Cady, who directs the college’s Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combos. He also teaches the Musical Improv and Contemporary Harmony courses for the music department curriculum.
With the performance, Cady tapped into a variety of genres including jazz and baroque, as well as more contemporary music. One piece performed was “Donna Lee” by Charlie Parker.
“It’s based on an old Dixieland standard called ‘Indiana’… Donna Lee is kind of a piece de resistance for jazz musicians, and especially for bassists,” Cady said. Along with jazz standards, Cady also played the Second Cello Suite from Bach and “Don’t Fade on Me” by Tom Petty, successfully taking the audience on a journey through his musical career.
Cady informed the audience that he learned the bass with Bach instruction books. As for the Petty piece, Cady said, “I don’t really know what it means, but I know it’s deep and very personal to me.”
Eric Gagne, program director of Nova Arts, said he had been looking for a third performer to round out this performance. He said he thought of Cady to have a familiar face join the lineup. Additionally, both Cady and Gagne are Keene State College alumni.
“[I] thought it would be good to have someone familiar to the area on board,” Gagne said.
Gagne called the mix of the three artists “illuminating.” A long time connoisseur of jazz music, Gagne said he “loves to get the chance to expose people to these new sounds.”
Gagne said that he looks for a “super varied, eclectic mix of things” when searching for his performers. “I especially love it when, at the end of [the show], someone who wasn’t originally familiar with the genre and when it’s new for someone and they’re just like ‘that was incredible’. It’s very satisfying for me,” said Gagne.
“[Brewbakers] has always been where artsy people want to be,” he said. “My mission is to create a chill and accessible space where people who want to hear something new can go and experience it freely.”
Cady encouraged KSC students to visit Brewbakers for one of their evening performances.
“It’s one of the only live music spots in the area. There’s a bar. There’s good, affordable food and coffee. It’s an opportunity for them to have something culturally in Keene that they might not have otherwise,” Cady said.
Cady added, “If it weren’t for audiences, the live musicians wouldn’t add up to much. You know, we need you.”
For more information about upcoming performances, visit the Nova Arts website.
Kathryn Gregoire can be contacted at