Nathaniel Seer/John Statz/Tony Memmel; July 5, 2009; The Frequency
Nathaniel Seer’s label Chestnut Tree Records had asked me if I would be interested in having him do a house concert. Like I do with all the cold call house show requests I get, I went to his MySpace page to listen to his music before I said no. Surprisingly, I had a “Hey Mikey” moment- I liked it. Unfortunately the date they wanted was the Sunday right in between my two Thursday shows. Not only could I not do it mentally or physically, I didn’t want to ask people to come to my house three times in eight days. I replied and told them exactly that, but that they should let me know if he got something else and I would try to make it.
As it turns out, they did. Too bad it was the no-man’s land of an early Sunday show at the Frequency. It was the first early show I’ve been to at the bar that has become known for its late nights in its first year of existence. I’m all in favor of the early show, but I’ll admit it felt kind of strange to be there with sunbeams streaming in the skylight. Despite the fact that local favorite John Statz was also on the bill, the crowd was pretty minimal, but at least they were mostly quiet during his set. Admittedly Seer’s songs are a little grandiose, but I don’t think he can help it with a voice like that. Jeff Buckley is an easy comparison. He certainly has all the power and grandeur of Buckley, but lacks that annoying falsetto made him difficult to listen to.
Of course a great voice wouldn’t mean anything without equally great songs. I had bought his most recent full length release online since I wouldn’t be able to host the show. I had listened to it quite a few times and had a few favorites that I wanted to hear. With the small crowd I wasn’t the least bit intimidated to yell for something, but as it turned out I didn’t have to, “John Brown’s Hatchet” and the addictively propulsive “The Graveyard” showed up right in a row mid-set. Since I ordered Songs of Hate, he has released another CD. The Dark Will Come features colorful artwork that his son created as well as another set of beautiful tunes. The standout track is “Rose hill” which contains two noticeably great lines, “All of my friends are dead, or night as well be,” and “There’s nothing wrong with drinking alone” (Michelle bought the CD for that one alone).
Strangely enough, a club known for its tardiness started the show right on time at 6 pm, and Tony Memmel was already on stage when we got there. His wife accompanied him on keyboard; it was pleasant, if fairly standard, singer/songwriter stuff. I might not have even noticed that he was missing part of his left arm if I hadn’t caught sight of his merch. His T-shirt featured him in silhouette, arms raised. Subtle. It’s a shame more people didn’t come out to see this trio of songwriters, though I’ll admit I wasn’t surprised. That’s why Seer will definitely be playing at the house next time he comes through town.