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A Musical Life

A Musical Life: Joshua Pickenpaugh

Steve Coleman

Joshua Pickenpaugh studied music at Wichita State University. As a bassist, he has performed with a long line of bands, including recent gigs with singer-songwriter Jack Korbel. Here, Pickenpaugh recalls how playing music on cruise ships helped him fulfill his goal of being a well-rounded player.

“The guys that were my early inspirations were studio guys. Neil Stubenhaus, Will Lee, Tony Levin’s a big one for me, Carol Kaye. People who were in the studio for eight, 10-12 hours a day, who played all styles. Early on that’s something that I knew I wanted to do and pursue but by the time I was actually able to hold my own on the instrument the studio scene was basically dry.

The next best thing for me was cruise ships. I got to play so many different kinds of styles and so many different kinds of genres and wear so many different kinds of hats.

There were definitely times on the ship or really any gig where a tune comes up and it turns into the production line of the gig where you just churn it out, just get it out there.

But even within those moments, you find things you can finesse and play with and make different that wasn’t like the last time that you played that makes it interesting for you. If you get interested in it, you become happy in it and the audience sees that, the band sees that, so I would like to think, at the end of all that, it’s all good.”