Meet the musician who bass-ically is Pittsburgh’s go-to bass player. Trish Imbrogno aka “Trish Plays Bass” is a classically trained double bassist who made the leap from playing with symphonies to playing with country and bluegrass bands.
Growing up in Kane, PA Trish showed her talent at an early age. She started playing at age 14 and joined the Warren County Symphony Orchestra while still in high school. The opportunity to study the double bass and earn a Bachelor of Music degree at Duquesne University brought her to Pittsburgh (if you major in double bass can you say you double majored?). Since then she’s played stages from Heinz Hall to Carnegie Hall.
By day Ms. Imbrogno works on a social media team, but by night her social medium is a band. She is a busy woman who happily lugs her large bass all around the greater Pittsburgh region just for you.
Trish might not yet be a household name, but if you’re into the local music scene she’s likely been a part of your household sound. Her rich bass lines can be found on albums by Molly Alphabet, Grant Street Grifters, Chet Vincent, Emily Pinkerton, Reliable Child, The Casual Hobos among others. If you’re catching a live act you’ll find her plucking and bowing on stage with The Casual Hobos, Charlie Hustle & The Grifters, Sweaty Already String Band, Dead and In The Way, Honky Tonk Jukebox 339 Band, and Savage Mountain Stillers.
Pittsburgh has a vibrant live music scene. The national acts might get all the attention, but it’s the local musicians who fuel the lifeblood of the city’s soundscape. Trish understands the importance of local music, and wants you to too. “The majority of people are eager to support touring artists that pass through town. For those acts they pay ticket prices that are insanely more than local artists are charging. It is often hard to compete, regardless of talent level. I wish more people understood that if people want to have a strong music scene in Pittsburgh they have to support LOCAL musicians, not just those on national tours,” she passionately told us.
She has gone from playing classical pieces with symphonies to playing with bluegrass and country bands on stages and in bars. So how exactly does one make the leap from classical to country? ”I’ve always walked through doors as they’ve opened and it hasn’t led me too far astray yet,” she said.
From there she outlined a most unexpected path from a conversation with a music therapist which led her to playing for the first time without sheet music in front of her which led to forming a band to play a gig at the opening of an L.L. Bean which led to a gig at the 31st Street Pub where she met Chet Vincent and Molly Alphabet which led to her performing in a regular monthly show with them which led her to more connections, more gigs, and forming more bands. All that was just on the country-music side – simultaneously on the bluegrass side she was on another similar path of making good connections at the right time. She explained it this way, “It’s kind of wild how it all fell into place (and continues to do so!). It goes back to how everyone knows everyone in Pittsburgh.”
Not just a bass player, she sings too. “Singing is a new endeavor and I’m completely self taught. Bluegrass harmonies are really specific and I never know if I’m doing it right. All of that said, I love singing. When your body is your instrument, it rouses some kind of spiritual center in your soul. It’s really emotional for me.”
In between gigs you’ll find her at home on Troy Hill where she enjoys “the stunning view [of the city] we have from our deck”. Formerly a small town girl, she decided to stay in the city because “Pittsburgh is an anomaly. We are actually a small town — I used to say it was three degrees of separation, but I’ve decided it’s only two. If you leave your couch and do anything, you will eventually know everyone. Having grown up in a small town, I really like that feeling. It’s also a place where you can’t screw up. If you do someone wrong here, everyone knows. I think that keeps folks pretty honest.”
“We have a world-class arts scene of all genres — I had the opportunity to study with literally one of the best bass players in the world, and he was in our city’s symphony orchestra. I didn’t have to live in Manhattan, Berlin or Chicago to get that experience. At any given time I can find killer dive bar food, great local alcohol, there’s world-class research and innovation thanks to our extensive university system, green space is abundant, there’s always something happening and, if I want to get out to the wilderness, it’s about 30 minutes in any direction.”
An all-around adaptable musician it isn’t surprising that she’s also adapted to being a true Pittsburgher. True she might not have the accent, but she is in tune with the local craft beer scene. When we asked her to make some Made in PGH recommendations she “hoppily” gave us many. She leans toward IPAs like Hop Farm’s session IPA and Southern Tier Live. In terms of ciders she likes anything by A Few Bad Apples and Threadbare’s Dry Hopped.
Get familiar with Trish Imbrogno, get to know her bassy rich sounds, and don’t be surprised when some day you hit up a local act and you find her there in the corner of the stage, double bass in hand, keeping yet another band’s sound steadily humming along. Oh and while you’re there don’t forget to buy her a drink.
Find Trish online at trishplaysbass.com, @trishplaysbass, and Trish Plays Bass.This content was provided by a local, independent contributor to Made in PGH, a lifestyle blog.
Very good story on Trish Imbrogno. I have been following her for many years and have seen the improvements. I’m happy she took up the challenge to sing along with her fellow band mates when she gets the chance. She’s doing real good. It’s not easy to sing in public, but she does it very well. Thanks for the article.