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Paul Rogalski


Shortly after obtaining his Professional Music Diploma from Berklee College of Music in 1990, Boston bassist Paul Rogalski relocated to Colorado where he played in various regional groups before forming Mojomama in 2002. Nearly a decade later, Mojomama is a mainstay of the Colorado music scene and continues to perform their fusion of rock, funk, and soul music at clubs and festivals around the state. Mojo's Music Academy is a teaching facility that was founded by Rogalski in 2007. It is the area's premier institution for the advancement of music performance. In addition to overseeing the direction of Mojo's popular summer programs, Rogalski regularly schedules concerts, recitals, clinics, and workshops at his academy featuring distinguished instructors and visiting artists such as Michael Manring, Doug Johns, and Chuck Rainey. He also hosts some of the largest annual bass events in the Midwest including the Mile High Bass Camp and the Rocky Mountain Bass Slam.

In this interview, Rogalski discusses his background, influences, Mojo's Music Academy, teaching, and more.




How did you get started on bass?

Paul Rogalski Back in junior high school, I remember seeing a bass on display at the local music store at the mall. For some unknown reason, I was drawn to the look and low frequencies of the bass. I told my parents about my interest, and they got my brother and I taking lessons at the same time from a local guitar teacher. My brother played electric guitar and we'd learn songs like "Purple Haze," "Aqua Lung," "Mississippi Queen," and other good old rock 'n roll classics.

We'd go home and crank up our amps and open the windows of our room to let the neighborhood hear our coolness. I wanted to get more serious so I asked the best bass player in high school who he studied with which led me to Andy Bergsten. This guy had it all together and showed me the way on the bass from hipping me to Steely Dan, Lee Rittenour, Cream, Weather report, and all the rest of the good stuff. From there, I was convinced I wanted to do music for a career and played in numerous bands over the years. I was accepted to Berklee College of Music in 1986 and pushed through to graduate in 1990.

Being from Boston, when did you decide to move to Colorado?

Once I finished the Berklee program, I was anxious to get away from Boston and travel. In 1991, I had made some new musician friends that just returned from Boulder, Colorado. They were telling me about the music scene and how I could find gigs easily and the beauty of having the mountains in your backyard. I researched Boulder and was convinced I needed to take a chance. I saved some money, loaded up my Fender bass and amp, and headed out into the unknown. It took awhile to get settled, but I am still here. I've established my name locally and continue to move forward in the music community.

Have you been influenced by anyone in particular as a bassist?

I have been a huge Jaco fan for a long time because of his precise playing and the voice of his bass. You really know it's him after you hear just a few notes. I also loved John Entwistle for his rawness and huge tone, Chuck Rainey for his natural groove, and Mark King for his insane slap style.

Are you playing with any bands?

I've been with the same band, Mojomama, since my wife Jessica and I founded it in 2003. Mojomama is a mix of R&B and rock styles fused together with Jessica as the lead singer. We have produced two original recordings. Titled Drivin', the first recording got our name out there and gigs coming in along with a piece of a song used for MTV programming. The second project, Think.Feel.Love.Listen, is more mature sounding, and the track listing flows as an entire piece of music. We spent more time and money on this recording by hiring producer Bill Thomas and mastering at Grammy award-winning Airshow in Boulder. This recording received positive reviews from local magazines and fans alike. People still say we are better live which I feel is a good compliment for any musician.

Where can people go to purchase your music?

All of our music is available on iTunes and CD Baby under Mojomama. You can also check us out at Mojomama.net.

Can you tell us about your music academy?

Mojo's Music Academy opened in February 2007 in Longmont, Colorado. We offer private music instruction for students of all ages and instruments including guitar, voice, bass, drums, piano, violin, and horns. Our instructors are mostly college graduates with degrees in music or years of experience from performance and private studies. We recently moved to a bigger and better location in Longmont. We can now offer group classes at the same time as private lessons due to the amount of space we now have, almost 4000 square feet. We have eight private lesson rooms, a couple lounges for families to take a break, a group classroom, and a main event venue. Some of our group classes include a vocal performance class for adults, an introduction to music class for 7-10 year-old kids, bass and drum groove workshops, and finger picking guitar-style workshops. Since this past June, our new facilty has it's own music venue where we host open stage nights, concerts, workshops with visiting artists, student recitals, and Mojomama shows. All of our students are encouraged to take advantage of our events, and everything is open to the general public as well. I recently had bassist Doug Johns at Mojo's for a workshop along with Berklee alumni Max Ridgway for a guitar workshop. Some guest artists we've had over the years include Michael Manring, Chuck Rainey, Damian Erskine, Trip Wamsley, Todd Johnson, Ray Riendeau, Bobby Vega, and Reji Wooten. Please check out MojosMusicAcademy.com for the latest schedule of events.



As an instructor, what do you like to emphasize the most to your students?

I emphasize the importance of listening and playing as a part of the band. I tell my students that they have two ears. One is for themselves, and one is for the band. Through the internet, I feel as though the youngsters see all the flashy players first and think that is what everyone needs to strive for as a musician. I don't crush their dreams for being the best they can and as technical as they may want to become, but I encourage them to play the role of the bass as a solid foundation first and then find their place for the flash. I can't say I've ever been hired for a gig if I could do a slap and tap solo. Maybe the role will change someday, but I don't really think so.

Since you have instructed so many bassists, do you tend to find common weaknesses in students?

The biggest weakness is keeping chord theory in their heads. We learn it, we understand it, but we need to apply it. Unless you're making an effort either in your band or by using a Real Book to know all the chords and their spellings, the information will not stick with you. Students want to know what they can do to make their lines more interesting. I tell them a lot of it is in the chords and listening.

Have you ever considered doing a book or video series to demonstrate your teaching methods?

I have considered this subject. I have a workbook I wrote awhile back that covers scales, chords, reading, and it goes through different styles of music with original bass lines. I want to expand on this book and create video lessons to go along with the content. I've done a couple online, and they have been well received on YouTube.

What kind of equipment do you use?

I recently purchased my own Pedulla MVP 4-string. I totally love it. Plus, I am the Colorado Pedulla dealer so it only makes sense to play and gig with this fine instrument. I own a Fodera 4-string Victor Wooten Classic which is amazing. I have a Mark King Status 40th Anniversary bass with very cool LED lights on the fretboard. People always react to that bass. It's a slapper. I also have a Modulus Jazz bass, and my good old Fender P bass from 1984 which I did all my study on. It never lets me down. I play through Genz Benz bass amps. I have a GBE 750 head with an Uber 410 cabinet. The tone is perfect. I am proud to say that Chuck Rainey told me I had great tone so mission accomplished!

Do you have any new projects that you are presently working on?

My drummer Steve Saviano and guitarist Bob Murnahan and I are working on a yet-to-be-named fusion trio. We're going to cover some Scofield, Jaco, Metheny, and play original pieces. The music will be challenging. Mojomama will be writing new material over the winter as well. It's time for a new recording.



Selected Discography

Mojomama
Recordings
Think.Feel.Love.Listen
Drivin'



Contact

For more information on Paul Rogalski and Mojo's Music Academy, visit: MojosMusicAcademy.com.



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