13-year-old travels to LA for trade show
Gabriel Severn, 13, of Loyalsock Township, attended National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), the world’s largest music trade show, in Los Angeles in January, where more than 100,000 people gather. Severn is a bassist and is considered a child prodigy.
“NAMM was really fun because I got to meet a lot of my favorite players … really famous people and I got to play a lot of really cool gear,” Gabriel Severn said.
While in Los Angeles, he met many musicians, such as Nathan East and Lee Sklar. His favorite was when he got to jam with his influences, Hadrien Feraud and Federico Malaman.
Severn is an endorsing artist with Ernie Ball Music Man, and at their booth he met guitarists Steve Lukather and Steve Morse, both Ernie Ball Music Man artists and got to play a Stingray bass guitar.
He picked up bass when he was seven and has been playing for almost six years. The Severn family is a musical one; Gabriel’s mother and father are both trumpet players and Gabriel’s younger brother plays the drums.
“Since I was a toddler, I think I’ve liked the low sound and I use to point out the bass in my dad’s concerts and when I was in the car listening to music,” Severn said.
When he turned 11, Severn’s video performing Jaco Pastorius’ solo on Havona went viral. Since then, he has now performed more than 250 times. Severn takes lessons from Tim Breon, guitarist, Anthony Wellington and Adam Nitti, renowned bass teachers.
Some of his musical bass influences are Jaco Pastorius, Victor Wooten and Federico Malaman, to name a few. He is also influenced by many bands, including The Weather Report, Miles Davis and The Yellowjackets. Music genres he’s interested in are Motown and funk.
“As a bass player, … you need to hold down a groove,” said Severn. “Something my teacher, Anthony Wellington, said is ‘Make people sound good, really good, and if they are already good make them sound better.’ “
Severn has visited Nashville, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia. This year, he is anticipated to be traveling throughout the United States and is hoping to get the chance to perform abroad. Severnhas also been featured in Bassquarterly, a German magazine for bass players, and was a guest on Detroit Bass Players in the Bassmint, a YouTube series.
“I’m grateful to the people who are willing to mentor him and take him under their wing,” said Vivian Severn, Gabriel’s mother.
Severn also has a custom line of bass strings, produced in France by Carlos Pavicich. Pavicich contacted the Severns and talked about what sizes and strings Gabriel likes, said Vivian Severn. Carlos sent samples to Severn and ended up making it into a custom line.
Severn also has his own band, Teen Town, a jazz, fusion and funk rock band that performs throughout the East Coast. The other two members in the band are Connor Rohrer, keyboardist, and Logan Bedard, drummer, of Harrisburg. Teen Town started in May 2017, and will soon be approaching their one-year anniversary.
In the past year, Teen Town has performed at the Lock Haven Jazz and Arts Festival, the Dauphin County Wine and Jazz Festival and at TEDx Harrisburg. The band has also opened for the Ben Wolfe Trio, the Dwayne Dolphin 4tet and the Tierney Sutton Band. In February, Teen Town performed live on Good Day PA and on a Pennsylvania Pipeline TV episode.
In April, Teen Town will be at the Berks Jazz Festival with the Victor Wooten Trio. The band will also be at the 2018 Millennium Music Conference and the Christmas City Summer Jazz Festival.
Severn also plays with Jose Andre, 12, of Washington D.C., and his trio. “We play a lot of Latin American music,” Severn said. “I didn’t get to really know it until I started playing with him and I developed since that because it was a different style.”
Andre reached out to Severn over the Internet. As they started talking, their first gig came about, Severn said. The two keep in contact and talk over the phone almost daily. He also plays for Just Jazz, and was previously in Urban Souls, both bands through the Uptown Music Collective.
This year, Severn is releasing a single and planning an EP of jazz and Latin American influences. The EP would be a diverse album of latin, jazz fusion and smooth jazz styles with improv throughout.
“There’s been so much support from so many people,” Vivian said. “Having music in your life can be rewarding and it’s satisfying. You get out of it what you put into it.”