Joe Saah, Contrabass
Joe grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, listening to the great Cleveland Orchestra conducted by George Szell. He remembers going backstage when he was 12, walking around, looking up at all the musicians and their instruments. “I saw a contrabass and knew that’s what I wanted to play,” he says. Of course he had to start with a half size one. He played through middle and high school, taking lessons from the principal bassist of the Cleveland Orchestra.
When he was about 14, he joined the musicians union and went on the road on weekends, playing popular and folk music. During his undergrad years at Harvard, he was the house bass player at a Passim, a popular folk club. “I played with every major folk artist who came to town.” Who might that have been? Well, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Tom Rush, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters…Passim was called “the hangout of choice for the new folkies” and there’s even a documentary about how influential the club was (you could look it up in Wikipedia!). But Joe tired of the scene when he was 25 and stopped playing bass completely, becoming a piano technician for Baldwin and Steinway.
He changed careers by going to JFK University in Orinda and becoming a psychotherapist, specializing in marriage and family therapy and opening the Berkeley Men’s Center in 1984. But Joe had realized that there was something missing in his life, and it was music. When he came to the Bay Area he heard about Prometheus from friends, picked up the bass again and joined us in 1980. He played with us for several years, taking a pause when life with two small kids just got too busy.
“About four years ago Karl’s (Sevareid) wife, who works in the same building with me, encouraged me to come back. I love being back with Prometheus and having music in my life.” Joe now also plays in two bands—one bluegrass and one contemporary folk rock. “I’m just having a lot of fun being an amateur musician.”