(About Nathen’s House Concert in Kirkland, WA, June 7/12)
When Nathen arrived around 4, Dan already had the PA set up for him. Nathen completed the setup by hooking up his Pod and his NS Stick. I was somewhat familiar with a Pod – Dan’s got one of those. But the NS Stick is something unusual. I’d seen Nathen play it at FAR-West, but that was a brief thing, surrounded by the chaos that embodies that conference. I think this was a different instrument than I’d seen him play then, anyway. This one had an ash body and a bamboo neck. It’s got eight strings, and can make both bass and guitar sounds. That’s about all I really know about it – except that Nathen plays it rather well.
The show itself actually got started when someone asked Nathen a question as to how the instrument worked. That was, after all, a perfect segue into demonstrating the NS Stick in action. Although the instrument can be strummed, Nathen plays it with a damper, by tapping strings. He described it as actually being fairly equivalent to a piano. The Pod gave him different tones and effects, so there was a lot of versatility to his sound. Add to that a great voice, and you have an audience treated to a fantastic performance with a very unique feel.
Nathen played a few familiar songs, including a reggae medley and “All You Need Is Love”, but most of his songs were either from the CD he brought with him, “Little By Little”, or from his upcoming EP “I Say Yes”, which will itself will be a sampler of songs from two full CDs he has in the works. Judging from the reception the new songs got among this crowd, his new CDs should do very well.
This week’s crowd was made up of mostly music appreciators, rather than active musicians, so Nathen played a second set after the break. A notable exception to that statement was Eric Robert, who accompanied Nathen on piano for a couple songs. They had never met before, but you wouldn’t know it to hear them play together. I particularly wish I had a recording of “To Love”, the second song they did, which left the audience completely entranced.
At the end of the night, I heard Dirk tell Nathen, “Thank you so much. That was exactly what I needed tonight.” And if that’s not the hallmark of a successful concert, I don’t know what is.
Shanie Holman, Backyard House Concerts (Kirkland, WA), 13/6/12
June 13, 2012