LOCK HAVEN - Gabriel Severn, 8, a local electric bass player, will be a guest performer with the Lock Haven University Jazz Ensemble's concert at 7:30 tonight at Price Performance Center at Lock Haven University. The concert is free and open to the public.
Severn began playing the bass in January and studies with bassist Tim Breon. He also plays bass in the Urban Souls, a Motown tribute band run by the Uptown Music Collective under the direction of the UMC's Executive Director Dave Brumbaugh.
Severn comes from a musical family: his father is trumpet player Dr. Eddie Severn, the director of Jazz Studies and Brass at Lock Haven University, and his mother, Vivian, also a trumpeter, is a former music teacher.
Gabriel Severn plays on his Warwick Bass. He will be a guest performer at the Lock Haven University Jazz Ensemble.
As musicians, they actively encouraged Severn's love of music.
"He was always drawn to the bass, ever since he first began walking. As a toddler, any time he would see bass players either live or on TV, he'd point excitedly and say, 'Da bass! Da bass!' " said his mother. "When he was 18 months old, I cut a piece of cardboard into the shape of an upright bass and he loved pretending to play it."
Although he was given a half-size electric bass for his sixth birthday, he didn't begin lessons until just after he turned 7.
A second-grade student at West Branch School, he loves playing and practices several times every day, before and after school.
Severn's first public performance was at the West Branch School's Fair in May, playing the Herbie Hancock tune "Chameleon" with his dad and other local musicians.
Dave Brumbaugh was one of those musicians. Immediately after hearing the younger Severn play, he invited him to join the newly formed band, the Urban Souls, as the bass player. The Urban Souls consist of young musicians who range in age from 8 to 13, and perform Motown and soul music. The band has performed regularly at local venues since forming in late spring, including the Williamsport Welcomes the World celebration, several First Fridays and the Hiawatha.
Although Severn has only played the bass for a few months, he's already performed many times. In addition to playing at the West Branch School's Fair, he has played at the Scranton Jazz Festival, DiSalvo's Restaurant (sitting in with his dad and Tim Breon) and the WBS Talent Show.
He attended the Keystone Jazz Institute in Scranton last summer, and hopes to be a 'COTA Cat' and attend the Celebration of the Arts jazz camp next summer, a music camp that is part of the Delaware Water Gap Celebration of the Arts Festival. The concert with the LHU Jazz Ensemble tonight will be his first time performing with a university band.