4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Sean Hicke takes his upright bass to the rails

On that midnight train to Dago

High-rise, low notes: Sean Hicke and his bass survey the local scene.
High-rise, low notes: Sean Hicke and his bass survey the local scene.

Bassist Sean Hicke didn’t always play the upright. In fact, the San Diego native got his musical start on its electric cousin. “I was playing in punk bands and whatnot in middle school,” says the 26-year-old. “But I kinda got switched over to saxophone and clarinet because of school bands. I actually started college on saxophone before switching to bass after a year.” That’s when Hicke became enamored of the large acoustic instrument, despite its unwieldly size. “I really liked playing bass, but never really got too many opportunities to play it all that much, and it was a tough sell to convince my parents to get me one as a kid. After I made the switch, I was able to use an instrument from the school for six months before I got my own.”

Sponsored
Sponsored

Before Hicke left San Diego a few years back, he recorded his debut album Sunflower Sutra, featuring locals like Louis Valenzuela on guitar, Matt DiBiase on vibes and Julien Cantelm on drums, all recorded by Chris Hobson at Rarefied Recording in North Park. A number of circumstances had inspired the relocation. “My girlfriend” — Camellia Aftahi, also a bassist, but of the classical persuasion — “was going to grad school in Cincinnati, Ohio. We tried the long-distance romance thing for a while, but I decided to move back there.” After freelancing in Cincinnati for a year, (mostly doing rock gigs), Hicke and Aftahi decided to try their luck in New York City for a year. Aftahi had an admin fellowship at Juilliard, and Hicke survived doing online teaching and as many freelance gigs as possible.

“The pay scale was pretty atrocious back there. I had a lot of fun in New York, but what I was able to make versus the cost of living in New York ultimately prompted us to head back to San Diego.” But even that decision involved some practical logistics that needed to be resolved. The couple no longer had a car, and they had to either fly back to town (neither had a suitable flight case for their instruments), rent a car (finding one that would fit both instruments ultimately proved impossible), or come up with an alternative. “Camellia had actually traveled via Amtrak for auditions back East in the past. So, we started investigating it and checking the prices, and it turned out to be a little bit better of a deal. And it ended up working out fairly well.”

The couple essentially plotted three separate train trips, totaling about 70 hours of travel time. “We took a train from New York to Chicago,” Hicke recalls. “Then Chicago to Los Angeles, and finally Los Angeles to San Diego. Of course, the stressful part of each trip was actually boarding with our basses, because there’s always the risk that the conductor will say ‘no.’ The first two trips, we were lucky, in that we were able to board early and find spots to store them. We actually got to put them next to us in the seats with no problem, which was cool, because we ran into a major problem on the last train from L.A. to San Diego. At the last second, they added a car and switched the door where you would board, so we went from being the very first people in line to being the very last, and the seats were much smaller. The conductor said it would be a safety hazard, so we had to store them with the general luggage compartment. Luckily, the person in charge let us in and allowed us to secure the instruments. But that was a super stressful situation.”

Now that they’ve survived the trip back home with their basses intact, Hicke and Aftahi are ready to get back to work. “I’m really looking to dig my heels into the San Diego scene, and make this what I do,” says Hicke. “It’s been a ton of fun so far. I’ve been able to reconnect with people that I haven’t played with for years, and I’ve been able to hook up with people that I would have never even dreamed of playing with the last time I was in town. I feel very fortunate to be playing the gigs I’m playing.”

Aftahi has also found local work. “She’s starting to build her own freelance situation in town. The process is a little different for classical musicians. She’s doing some teaching and working on an application for the doctorate program at UC San Diego.”

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Charles Crehore can't shut down his Facebook page

Broke with Mayor Bailey over open beaches during Covid
Next Article

The Sun's angle creates optical effects, tarantulas roam the streets

Low-lying Temperature Inversions create Marine Layer along the Coast
High-rise, low notes: Sean Hicke and his bass survey the local scene.
High-rise, low notes: Sean Hicke and his bass survey the local scene.

Bassist Sean Hicke didn’t always play the upright. In fact, the San Diego native got his musical start on its electric cousin. “I was playing in punk bands and whatnot in middle school,” says the 26-year-old. “But I kinda got switched over to saxophone and clarinet because of school bands. I actually started college on saxophone before switching to bass after a year.” That’s when Hicke became enamored of the large acoustic instrument, despite its unwieldly size. “I really liked playing bass, but never really got too many opportunities to play it all that much, and it was a tough sell to convince my parents to get me one as a kid. After I made the switch, I was able to use an instrument from the school for six months before I got my own.”

Sponsored
Sponsored

Before Hicke left San Diego a few years back, he recorded his debut album Sunflower Sutra, featuring locals like Louis Valenzuela on guitar, Matt DiBiase on vibes and Julien Cantelm on drums, all recorded by Chris Hobson at Rarefied Recording in North Park. A number of circumstances had inspired the relocation. “My girlfriend” — Camellia Aftahi, also a bassist, but of the classical persuasion — “was going to grad school in Cincinnati, Ohio. We tried the long-distance romance thing for a while, but I decided to move back there.” After freelancing in Cincinnati for a year, (mostly doing rock gigs), Hicke and Aftahi decided to try their luck in New York City for a year. Aftahi had an admin fellowship at Juilliard, and Hicke survived doing online teaching and as many freelance gigs as possible.

“The pay scale was pretty atrocious back there. I had a lot of fun in New York, but what I was able to make versus the cost of living in New York ultimately prompted us to head back to San Diego.” But even that decision involved some practical logistics that needed to be resolved. The couple no longer had a car, and they had to either fly back to town (neither had a suitable flight case for their instruments), rent a car (finding one that would fit both instruments ultimately proved impossible), or come up with an alternative. “Camellia had actually traveled via Amtrak for auditions back East in the past. So, we started investigating it and checking the prices, and it turned out to be a little bit better of a deal. And it ended up working out fairly well.”

The couple essentially plotted three separate train trips, totaling about 70 hours of travel time. “We took a train from New York to Chicago,” Hicke recalls. “Then Chicago to Los Angeles, and finally Los Angeles to San Diego. Of course, the stressful part of each trip was actually boarding with our basses, because there’s always the risk that the conductor will say ‘no.’ The first two trips, we were lucky, in that we were able to board early and find spots to store them. We actually got to put them next to us in the seats with no problem, which was cool, because we ran into a major problem on the last train from L.A. to San Diego. At the last second, they added a car and switched the door where you would board, so we went from being the very first people in line to being the very last, and the seats were much smaller. The conductor said it would be a safety hazard, so we had to store them with the general luggage compartment. Luckily, the person in charge let us in and allowed us to secure the instruments. But that was a super stressful situation.”

Now that they’ve survived the trip back home with their basses intact, Hicke and Aftahi are ready to get back to work. “I’m really looking to dig my heels into the San Diego scene, and make this what I do,” says Hicke. “It’s been a ton of fun so far. I’ve been able to reconnect with people that I haven’t played with for years, and I’ve been able to hook up with people that I would have never even dreamed of playing with the last time I was in town. I feel very fortunate to be playing the gigs I’m playing.”

Aftahi has also found local work. “She’s starting to build her own freelance situation in town. The process is a little different for classical musicians. She’s doing some teaching and working on an application for the doctorate program at UC San Diego.”

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

With the Rolling Stones 500 miles north of El Cajon

Editor's picks of stories Roger Anderson wrote for the Reader:
Next Article

Who needs Disneyland duels when you can Twitch?

Missy Alcazar figures out her funding
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close