Grinding Gears with Jason Beers




Grinding Gears with Jason Beers


It's great to know why musicians do what they do. Why they write songs about heartache or joy. What kind of emotion they're trying to express. Who they most look up to. That's the magic of what they do. But then there's the science of it. How do they make the most raw or sensual sounds come out of their instruments?

This week we talk with one of the hardest working musicians in town, Jason Beers.

The Deli: What kind of gear are you using?

Jason Beers: Kustom 250 amp, with a 2x15 Kustom Cabinet loaded with EV speakers. '78 Gibson RD Artist bass. I use both in The Brannock Device and Dead Voices. Deering Goodtime banjo that I sometimes use with a small Dean Markley amp. That's it. I'm not a gear freak. I used an EBO knockoff when I had a pinched nerve in my neck for a bit. That was a fun bass.


The Deli: What makes your particular gear achieve the sound you're looking for in your music?

Jason:  I like my amp because it is indestructible and very basic with lots of headroom. My bass has the ability to have a wide tonal variety, so I can control what I need tone wise from my bass. It has a built in treble "expander" and compressor. I have that expander circuit on in Brannock Device and off with Dead Voices.

The Deli: How would you describe your sound?

Jason: For Brannock Device, it's a really hard attack, deep and focused on the midrange frequencies. I use a variety of techniques in that band. The bass takes on a more nontraditional role for the Brannocks. I like the sound of a picked bass, but I can't play bass with a pick worth a darn. For Dead Voices, I dial it back quite a bit and just try to be solid and more like a traditional bass player, trying to lock in with Matt's bass drum, rather than trying to dance around with Bernie's (Brannock Device) drums.


The Deli: What projects are you in you're in right now?

Jason: Playing bass and singing in the Brannock Device, playing bass in Dead Voices, playing solo clawhammer banjo, and some duet/trio things with the Rural Grit crowd. I get involved in some one-off things, on occasion. I have a long running all-bass band with Johnny Hamil, the Wyco Lowriders, that hasn't played in quite a while, but we haven't killed it yet.

The Deli: What other instruments do you play?

Jason: Clawhammer banjo, organ/piano/keyboards, trumpet, musical saw, spoons, harmonica, guitar...hmmm...I've yet to play drums in a band.

The Deli: Who are your favorite or most inspirational players (of your instrument[s]), both in KC and beyond? 

Jason: Well, on bass - that would be Rob Wright, Mike Watt, and Barb Schilf. Johnny Hamil and Mark Reynolds, locally. The biggest bass influence is not a bass player at all, per se, but Ray Manzarek of the Doors. I love those bass parts he came up with.







The Deli: What is your ideal dream equipment set up? 

Jason: I have it now. Basic amp with headroom, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE my bass. Very versatile and monsterous - I really feel like I'm working a big machine.

The Deli:

  Where do you like to shop for gear, and why?

Jason:  I haven't shopped for gear in years. I do stop into Bentley's Music in Parkville every-so-often. Back when his shop was around, I bought TONS of stuff from Jim Curley's Mountain Music Shoppe, including my current bass set-up.

The Deli: Do you have a favorite KC venue to play in terms of sound quality? 

Jason: Byron at Davey's is always a great sight to see behind the board. The Record Bar has stellar sound.

The Deli: Ever made or have thought of making your own custom gear? 

Jason: Mark Smeltzer is in the middle of making me a banjo out of an acoustic guitar, strung left-handed, with TWO drone strings, one on the top and one on the bottom. Other than that, no.

Jason will be playing a special set on Saturday, August 18 as part of a Money Wolf Music Secret Show, at a yet undisclosed location. He'll be performing a set from Kansas City's past musical giants, likely never to be performed in another setting again. Jon Stubblefield will also be performing that evening. There are only 30 tickets available, so go to the link here and get your tickets while you can!

-Michelle Bacon

Michelle is editor-in-chief of The Deli - Kansas City. She also has a weekly column with The Kansas City Star and reviews music for Ink. She plays with Deco AutoDrew Black and Dirty Electric, and Dolls on Fire. She once fought the mighty Cerberus, and won.

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Jason Beers


The Brannock Device