Pacey brings the funk

Will Pacey plays his final gig with the Ross Neilsen Band this week. (Cara Smith/AQ)

This time six years ago you may have dropped some change in Will Pacey’s guitar case in downtown Fredericton. This year he’ll be on a main stage and you’ll have to pay a little bit more to see him.

Pacey is the newest bassist with the nationally recognized Ross Neilsen Band.

They will be opening for Charles Bradley & his Extraordinaires and Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings on Saturday night. The show marks the end of Pacey’s stay as bass player for the power trio after just finishing a cross country tour this summer.

“The last little while’s been kind of hard to believe,” he said.

Pacey was at a house party earlier in the year when it was mentioned the band needed a new bass player. After Neilsen showed interest in him joining, Pacey played three shows with the group to see if he fit.

The 45 minute sets were, as Pacey puts it, a “musical baptism by fire,” as he pushed himself to keep up with the newly learned material.
The shows were a success and the young musician was invited on tour.

“I was sort of stagnating at the time,” says Pacey.  “I wasn’t doing anything.  I didn’t have a job, I didn’t have a girlfriend and I didn’t have anything really tying me down in Fredericton so I kind of jumped in.”

Along the way came an interesting promotional idea for the tour.

“Ross and Karl [Gans] came up with the idea of having a sort of ‘Bass Idol’ video series,” he said regarding the tongue-in-cheek sketches.

The miniseries was made up of five episodes where Pacey went through the audition process with a rubber rat, a wooden sculpture of a bird and a clown balloon. In the end, Pacey was victorious and the episodes were an online success.

“Our improv was pretty cheesy, but people seemed to like it.”

After joining the band, preparation for a ten week tour of Canada began. The tour started in Quebec City on April 26th and over the course of two and a half months they traveled to the west coast and back again.

It was an eye-opening experience for Pacey who had never been past Ontario before.

“Every day was different.  It was really cool waking up in a new place that I had never been to before.”

With the tour behind him and the final show ahead, Pacey feels as if he’s come full circle from his early days of busking on the streets of Fredericton.  He’s unsure of what will come next but knows that even though he’s ready for a break, it won’t be the last time he takes the stage.

“I need to keep playing music. I don’t want to stop. I can’t stop.”

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