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Various Artists

A View From The Side written by Mike Visceglia

Review by Bruce Stringer

As members of the entertainment industry feel their way via hazy borderlines, many crossover products arrive on the shelves well intentioned but, sadly, missing the mark. Occasionally, an article manages to intelligently steer its way to attaining a shelf life and gain the respect of peers but rarely does an item stand out above the competitors in a totally separate field. After first meeting Mike Visceglia – famous for his role as musical director and bass player for Suzanne Vega – I was suitably impressed to learn of his work in the world of the written word. He writes in the prestigious Bass Player Magazine and he writes well.

Now, he has written a book. And the book is good… Darn good!

Boasting an interesting cast of interviewees (Marcus Miller, Will Lee, Leland Sklar, Donald “Duck” Dunn, Tony Levin and more) the narrative running through is one of education and knowledgeable musings in an industry that is quite literally being starved of the musical lifeblood that it requires to survive. Mike discusses the highs and lows of being a sideman in the realm of the music world and illustrates his conclusions with stories and lessons supplied by his guest interviewees and trends of the business that is music.

He manages to write in a very conversational manner, rewarding the reader with a kind of pal’s view of the truths, pitfalls and machinations along the way. Opening with some interesting anecdotes from his years of touring with Suzanne Vega, Mike gives tips on forming a band, dealing with fanatical fans, defining the realities faced as a working musician before taking a step-by-step motion into the more complex concepts dealt with as a sideman. The interviews include enlightening tales, humorous coincidences and illustrative lessons that reveal the slow demise of an industry that was once for the nurturing of musicians and musical integrity but has now, sadly, redefined the notion of exploitation of the artists involved and the consumer, alike.

If I was to “name drop” to create sales and highlight the extent that Mike has gone to create a very readable, highly articulate overall piece with famous inclusions, I might point out that Sting has forwarded an homage to the Fender bass. However, it’s such a great read without having to resort to “name dropping” that I would suggest this original publication might be an integral part in the revised learning materials of future musicians looking for a place in an industry that has long forgotten them. 

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 2 at

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