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Nate Perbix playing drums amidst the backdrop of the Minneapolis skyline

The Minnesota Music Academy named "Nate on Drums" the Best Minnesota Produced Audio Visual Program of 2004.

Drumming up humor and local music

By Pauline Oo

Published on March 3, 2005

If the upbeat theme song (with lyrics about a dream date) doesn't grab your attention, then the dorky (but jovial) host will. "Nate on Drums," a 30-minute TV comedy and variety show produced by two University of Minnesota alumni, is a bundle of fun spiked with creative editing and animation.

David Gillette, who coproduces the show and also stars in it, majored in English at the U. He, along with long-time buddies Nate Perbix, the show's host and a University of Minnesota, Duluth, alumni, and Caleb Rick, who also graduated from the U, came up with the idea to "make a funny show out of the fact that the drummer never really gets the attention in the band" in 2002. The show is named after Perbix, who is a professional drummer and performs with Minneapolis-based rock band, Cowboy Curtis.

Last October, the Minnesota Music Academy named "Nate on Drums" the Best Minnesota Produced Audio Visual Program of 2004. The academy members were apparently impressed not only by the comic sketches and socio-political-type commentary, but also by the large portions of local music the program serves up. More than 50 musicians or bands were featured on the first season's soundtrack, and 13 select bands had their 15-minutes of fame--every episode ends with a performance by a chosen group.

"For the first season, I hope [viewers] were willing to look past the low production value--it doesn't look as glossy and as high-end as a lot of the stuff on TV--and see that the ideas in it are really original and the content is something you're not going to see in other programs," says David Gillette.

Since February 2004, the program has aired on the first Sunday of every month at 11 p.m. on KSTC-TV Channel 45 (or channel 12 in most of the Twin Cities and surrounding areas). The first season's finale will air Sunday, March 6. Following that episode, Channel 45 will rerun the best six episodes on the first Sundays of the month from April through September. Season two, made up of 13 brand new episodes, will then air on a weekly basis during the fall TV lineup.

"We're excited about the reruns and the new weekly schedule," says coproducer David Harris, who graduated from the U with a speech communication and business degree in 2001. "Season one was sort of an experiment. It was the best we could do with the time and the resources we had. With season two, we're looking at better equipment and spending more time on production, which will allow us to make the type of show that we've wanted to make from the beginning."

The second season will move the show beyond its current TV studio format and develop character-driven storylines.

The average age of the 13 or so friends who give birth to each episode of "Nate on Drums" is 26. And like Harris, they aren't in the business full-time--what pays their bills, at least for now, are their jobs as graphic designers, carpenters, and insurance company employees.

"For the first season, I hope [viewers] were willing to look past the low production value--it doesn't look as glossy and as high-end as a lot of the stuff on TV--and see that the ideas in it are really original and the content is something you're not going to see in other programs," says Gillette. "The second season will be a more fleshed-out version of the experiment that's been on the air for the last year."

"We'd like to think that people would start to realize that good stuff can be produced here in the Cities, and it doesn't have to be regional humor," he adds.

For more information about "Nate on Drums," see Nate.

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