As a longtime member of Pert Near Sandstone, Nate Sipe has performed throughout the U.S. and Europe, shared the stage with some well-known acts, has seen the project become one of the Midwest’s most celebrated bluegrass bands, and—along with his bandmates—has been instrumental in the growth and curation of Blue Ox Music Festival. Long before he was a vocalist/multi-instrumentalist for the established Minneapolis outfit and thoroughly involved in the development of a massive fest, Sipe was playing grunge in suburban basements, taking a liking to folk, and learning to play a mandolin as he search for people who shared his musical interests.

As he prepares for Pert Near Sandstone’s Road To Blue Ox Tour, Sipe found some time to speak to My First Band host Tyler Maas about the upcoming run of shows, what to expect at this year’s Blue Ox installment (August 19-21 in Eau Claire!), and how his band got connected to the festival. Along the way, Sipe also talked about his own musical history that includes taking guitar lessons, a so-called “revelation” he had in the form of a folk anthology he bought from Best Buy, playing music with strangers while he hitchhiked and hopped trains in his 20s, and some of his favorite experiences he’s had with Pert Near Sandstone through the years.

My First Band is sponsored by Mystery Room Mastering, Lakefront Brewery, and Blue Ox Music Festival. The show is edited by Jared Blohm. You can listen to My First Band on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and wherever else you get podcasts. You can also listen to rebroadcasts of previous My First Band episodes on WMSE every Wednesday from noon to 12:30 p.m. CST. Music used in this episode comes courtesy of Devils Teeth (“The Junction Street Eight Tigers”) and Pert Near Sandstone (“Peace Of Mind”).