April 10, 2009

Enjoy Local Music, Local Food

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A few months back a friend and I were walking through the farmer’s market and taking in the beautiful autumn weather. As we reached the end of the market near the Gimme! coffee shop, a guitar and cello-playing duo was performing Weezer’s “Holiday” with a folk twist. Aside from grabbing my attention by covering an unlikely Weezer song, the duo was singing with so much emotion and love in their voices that this version of “Holiday” was a completely new listening experience. Only the lyrics remained the same. In fact, having no thought that they were anything more than band mates, I mentioned to my friend ‘how in love’ the musicians acted. Much to my pleasure, at the conclusion of the song, the duo announced that they had just been married two days earlier. When they said this, I nearly melted into a piece of cheese on those delicious farmer’s market flatbread pizzas. From that moment on, this duo, who are better known as Nate & Kate, skyrocketed to the top of my favorite local musicians list.
It wasn’t until a few weeks later when I went to grab a bite to eat at Collegetown Bagels that I came into the presence of Nate & Kate again. They were performing in a nook at the front of the eatery and they had the same look of love; the same soulful country-folk-rock music and they gave me the same sense of happiness as the first time I heard them. It was this night that I learned that Nate performs at CTB nearly every Wednesday throughout the school year under the title Nate Marshall & Friends. Each Wednesday a rotating ensemble of musicians gathers at the front alcove of CTB to sing along with Nate or to do some solo songs during the three hour set from about 7:30 p.m. -10:30 p.m. Since the middle of last semester, Justine Fields & Friends have been showing up weekly to watch Nate perform. Despite always bringing homework to do, we all generally end up enjoying the music too much to even think about work. Due to the fandom Nate has made out of my friends and, of course, myself (a crowd of very harsh judges), I thought it was only best to share with the rest of Cornell a little bit more about the man behind one of the most delightful Wednesday night musical experiences happening just on the edge of campus.
A resident of Ithaca for about two years now, Nate Marshall and his wife and band mate, Kate, came to Ithaca in 2007 because, as Nate described it, “Ithaca is a beautiful mix of city attitude and country … It’s the high school that’s just the right size. Even if you’ve never talked to everyone once, you know everyone’s name. If you want to get something done in the town you can, but there’s enough opportunities to start something new.” Add to that the wonderful folk music scene and it has become Nate & Kate’s home, beating out other options like Nashville and Austin.
It is in this citified country where 16 months ago Nate began playing at CTB. What started as Nate walking around the outdoor area of CTB with a guitar, playing to anyone with a request, has now grown into an amalgam of guests in a mini-performance space. Sometimes guests carry over from week to week and sometimes new friends travel some distance to play for the bagel-eating socializers. At recent shows, Dave Baird has been playing just about every week developing his stage persona with Nate’s help. Over the weeks, Baird, who has classical training in the trumpet, has been opening up more and more on stage as a guitarist and songwriter. Last week, in addition to Baird, Nate’s Friends ranged from Bruce Hyde, a local musician who can be seen performing as part of The Pink Prophets on Tuesday nights at The Palms (shout out for that awesome serenading of “Justine”!), to Dan Forsyth of the band Driftwood, who traveled all the way from Binghamton to be a guest. On occasional weeks, if lucky, CTB-goers are even treated to Kate as a special guest! Yet every week it is Nate who steals the show. His original Americana tunes mixed with covers of anything from Radiohead to Creedence Clearwater Revival are just perfectly delectable for a Wednesday night.
Since that fateful day last semester, when I was not even expecting to find a local-music love, until today Nate Marshal’s music has done nothing by entertained and made me smile. Even his touring ideas are entertaining! This summer Nate & Kate will be embarking on the Nate & Kate Eat Local Tour where they will be performing in farmer’s markets across the region and doing their best to eat food made within 50 miles of where they play. How sustainable and cool is that?! But before the tour kicks off, from now until the end of the semester, Nate Marshall & Friends will be performing every Wednesday night starting around 7:30 at Collegetown Bagels. I highly recommend taking the trip to CTB –– it will totally be worth your time to experience the musical happiness that the talented Nate Marshall puts on display. If you can’t make it out, then head over to NateAndKateMusic.com for their other show listings, which are equally as worthy.