BMHOF Class of 1995
A well-rounded musician who ventures
into all areas of music, Rodney Appleby fits almost every bill.
In addition to performing with Anthracite,
Appleby has dabbled in theater. Working on a limited budget, he wrote, produced
and directed his first musical, "Games" to premier in June at the Calumet
Arts Cafe and play later at the Gemini Dance Theatre and Martin Luther
Appleby approaches his myriad of musical
ambitions with a can-do attitude. "It's not a question of Will I," he says,
"but How Will I?"
e works with the African American
Cultural Center and the Paul Robeson Center, performing in the orchestra,
and performs with the Last World Jazz Researchers, a Duke-Ellington-style
big band directed by Willie Dorsey. He also gives private lessons.
His work with the Arts in Education
Institute of Western New York, Just Buffalo Literary Center and the University
at Buffalo add more facets to his identity as an artist.
In 1995, he recorded and performed
in England. "I walked around with a bass on a luggage cart in London,"
he says, "and everywhere I went there was someone with a project."
Appleby first began playing music on
a guitar. "My father played guitar in
our house," he said. "I got in a lot of
trouble for fooling around with his guitars, but
for some reason I took the trouble, so much
that to this very day, I have that guitar,
a Sears Silvertone."
His first introduction to the bass
occurred while trading instruments around with
his friends during basement get-togethers.
"I found that I could actually play everything,"
he said. "But the sound, the way the
what it did in the band, how it really
forced the issues of the music, I liked that."
A few years later, as he walked home
from a supermarket, members of his
church's gospel group asked him if he played
said yes because I wanted to play
with them," he said. "I came up with the
bass but fell short of the amp, but I walked
in and played their tunes with them and eventually
we traveled around the country.
Appleby decided to make a go of this
bass playing after sitting in on a few
jam sessions at the Central Park Grill. "At first
I sat in the comer and peeked, listening to the
tunes," he said. "Eventually I studied some of
the jazz songs they were playing. I liked the
bass lines, the walking lines I heard reminded
me of the gospel music I had been playing.
So I went down one week, decided this was
my day, and put on my bass right up front
next to the stage to let them know I'm
here and I'm here to play."
Appleby's favorite bass is a Warwick
Corvette five-string raw wood model,
which he said can sound like a grand piano.
He has released two recordings - the 1987
vocal release "Tears," recorded in Toronto,
and the 1992 Anthracite release "Psycogenic
Fugue," which features Appleby on
bass and vocals.
His future plans include bass playing
and theatre. "I personally want to play
bass as a performing artist," lie said. "But
my work right now seems to be theatrical.
When I sit down and write, I write compositions
are in context of some larger work.
They're all puzzle pieces that when put together,
make a small series of my life."
Appleby won the Buffalo Music Award
for Best Bass Player in 1992, 1993,