Like any seasoned musician, he’s lived in a few places: Colorado, California, and soon New York. He likes to say he did time in Utah. Of course, the frequent question a Utah native has to answer: are you Mormon? Well, he has 7 siblings (or are you one of 7 siblings?), if that suggests anything to you. His cat Kitty has been to almost as many places as him- 30 states, with the help of his lovely girlfriend, Kate, who’s been on the road with him for the last 3 years.
If Nathan hasn’t played a town near you, chances are he will soon. For the last 5 years, he’s been on the road about half the time, playing 100 shows a year. About 20 per year are with his dad, John McEuen, of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. But, like anyone following in their parent’s footsteps, he’s not trying to fill those big shoes, but “create his own footprint on a well-worn path.” In other words, don’t try to compare the two.
We have some time to kill between the soundcheck and the start of the show, so we take a walk out back. The light is perfect for photos, the sun is in its magic hour, and lingering smoke from fires in the area have left the atmosphere with a red tinge. He’s a little nervous at the attention of a photo shoot, and slips into mock-dance club mode, complete with angular arm positions and beats.
Speaking of smoke, Nathan once saw Tony Danza tap dancing in his local “pharmacy” in Malibu. He struck up a conversation with him about it, and Nathan slips into an effortless imitation of the Italian New Yorker: “Yeah, I had to pick it up for a show back in my 30′s.” This alone foreshadows a fun show.
Despite living in Malibu and encountering famous musicians from time to time, having a touring musician as a father must have had some perks. For his encore song, Nathan does his own rendition of Folsom Prison Blues. He introduces it as a song by a person he met when he was 13, and saw it performed with June and the band. I’m not sure anyone else I’ve ever met holds such bragging rights.
While I knew Nathan had played at the previous weekend’s Meadowgrass festival, I somehow missed him, but some of my friends caught his act and raved about him. When I heard he was playing in Pueblo, I made sure to catch him, despite having to leave Bluegrass on the River. I made the right choice.
He opens the show with a song written by his cousin Jaime Hanna, (of the duo Hanna-McEuen, comprised of Jaime, and Nathan’s brother Jonathan), called Fool Around. Nathan’s brother Jonathan also appears on Nathan’s second album, Grand Design: “a nostalgic sound with a hip spin – Future Retro Folk Rock.”
Nathan is breathing easier during his set, partially due to the lower elevation after several shows north of Pueblo, and partially due to his version of a Taj Mahal song going off well. In addition to singing and playing some guitar and banjo well, and other completely boring stuff like that, Nathan does an excellent beat box, and another entertaining voice effect.
The tweet from his twitter feed “Nathan and his imaginary band” makes a whole lot more sense now. His backup trumpet player looks like he was rescued from a life of sobriety on Sesame Street.
I highly suggest catching one of his shows if you can. Not only will you be entertained, but he’s a great musician as well. If you’re into the alt-country/Americana/folk genres, you won’t be disappointed.
Check out his cds for sale on cdbaby.com.