Video Premiere: Orphan Annie from Nate Sabat

Nate Sabat is the bass player with Mile Twelve, a fast-rising young bluegrass group based in Boston, and one of the new generation of bassists who are conservatory trained, but love the sound and interplay they find in the bluegrass band.

With most live performances canceled this past year, and even jamming opportunities severely limited, Nate has taken to working on a solo show – just bass and voice – which he can deliver from his studio at home. He recently did his first as a livestream, and tells us that it went quite well.

We are delighted to premiere his first solo video, with Sabat accompanying himself on bass to Norman Blake’s classic Orphan Annie. Nate also plays the instrumental solos we expect between verses on a song like this.

So why bass and voice?

“It was really a last minute idea… something I hadn’t done before. This solo effort is something I had really wanted to work on this past year, and it turns out to be a lot of fun.

Everyone misses playing live shows in person, but live streams are good for now. I’m trying my best to have quality video and audio for people who tune in.”

It works quite well, at least in the hands of a gifted player like Nate.

He has also recently joined the many bluegrass artists who are teaching on the Patreon platform, where people subscribe to receive new content on a recurring basis. For as little as $5 per month, subscribers get access to new instructional videos each week, while those who join on three other tiers up to $25 a month get even more material, including a monthly video exchange, one on one with Nate.

Sabat says that he launched his Patreon page several weeks ago, and that he is delighted with how it is going.

“It’s a very bluegrass specific instructional page, geared to beginning and fundamentals, all the way up to playing melodies. I think there is a missing link right now between conservatory-trained musicians and the more amateur players. My goal is to take some of that information and make it available to hobby players as well.

Edgar Meyer inspired a lot of us to see the bass differently, both in the traditional role and in more experimental roles as well – bringing the bass playing up to the same level as the other instruments in the band.”

Already, he has set a pattern for the page.

“The structure I started out with was one video per week (on Mondays) with rotating topics. Sometimes it’s techniques, sometimes we explore transcriptions or exercises, and then melody playing. Some of the material is catered to advanced players, others to beginners.

We also have a Zoom hangout every month for those who pay a bit more than the minimum.”

All in all, Nate is about getting more people playing his chosen instrument.

“I want to change the culture, and inspire people to pick up the bass.”

You can see all that he has on offer at the Nate Sabat Patreon page.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.