Karl Sevareid, Contrabass

Karl Sevareid, Contrabass

After growing up in Los Angeles, Karl migrated up to the Bay Area just in time for the “Summer of Love.” He had been playing bass guitar in bands through high school when he realized “the crazy music scene in the Bay Area was just exploding.” He decided on a career in music and landed jobs in the house bands of Slim’s Nightclub in San Francisco and Larry Blake’s in Berkeley, playing backup with Bonnie Raitt, Boz Scaggs, Etta James, Lightnin Hopkins, etc.

From there, Karl played with Charlie Musselwhite for 15 years (legendary bluesman, reportedly the inspiration for Dan Aykroyd’s character in The Blues Brothers), made a couple of records and toured the country. Karl played with Elvin Bishop for 10 years (blues and southern rock) and then joined the Robert Cray Band for 17 years, made nine records (one Grammy award, for “Take Your Shoes Off”) and toured the world. They were often the opening act for groups like Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones.

While with the Cray band, Karl got interested in playing the double bass. “I found an electric upright bass (plucked like a bass guitar only upright) and went and bought it.” He practiced in hotel rooms on the road. “Then I got more interested in playing with a bow; it was totally seductive.” He bought an acoustic bass. “But I had to learn to play in tune!” He also had to learn to read music, as most blues musicians instead use chord charts and lead sheets.

In 2009, Rich Trevor (see above) suggested he join Prometheus after he retired from the band. “I just showed up—luckily there was no audition. I was totally out of my element, not being a classical musician.” But he stuck with it, even though sometimes every muscle ached after rehearsal. “Now I just love playing acoustic bass.” Karl still plays blues sometimes, gives lessons, and has a day job managing a landscape architecture office.

~Joyce Vollmer

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