REVIEW BY ONA STEWERT
I've never taken this approach when writing a review of a new album. I will usually take it song by song and give my attention to the emotion of each track and then wrap it up in my own color.
But when I discovered Holler and Hope, the latest release from Nathan Moore, it wrapped me up in a magical world of its own and woke parts of me as an artist that needed inspiration. You see this isn't just a record, this is a journey, a web of creation I stumbled into, and now I am heading into the unknown that has shown no signs of slowing. All the while, I feel more at home than I can remember.
I had met Nathan at Lost Sierra Hoedown a few years ago where he had been designated the late night jam tent curator and host. I already knew who he was, as he is kind of a legend in musician circles especially the underground roots and jam band circles.
However I was introduced to the late night magic of Nathan Moore by our good friend, Willy Tea Taylor one night last year. Will and I had just finished writing a song together and Will was pumped to share it with Nathan who is back east. It’s well after midnight in California and he calls Nathan who to my surprise answers. Nathan was actually live on the air doing his semi nightly late show on his social tv stream Hippy Fiasco Rides Again. Before you know it, we are playing the new song for Nathan and his audience. This led us to talking about Nathan being a night owl to be broadcasting what was near sunrise on the east coast and Willy Tea says “Nathan Moore, my captain, you are The Great American Night Owl”.
Now that I knew about this fiasco I’d find myself stopping in for a peak every now and again. This started to get more and more frequent. Well a little less than 2 months ago I stopped in and that's when this journey really began. “Is that Nathan Moore making a record live on the air?” Now, he wasn't just making a record, he had opened up his world to his viewers and deputized them all Co-Producers. So there he was tracking live, mixing live and laying a foundation in the most vulnerable way I could have imagined. Come to find out that at the end of every show (or session) he would post downloadable mp3s on his website www.Nathansland.com to be used as reference tracks. So now he had opened his art up to anyone feeling inspired that might want to submit a track to the record. Now the Co-Producers are coming back the next evening and we’re witnessing everyone's reaction to the parts they had submitted earlier that day. So here I am witnessing one of the great troubadours of our time making his record live and I hear something that’s not right. So I speak up in group chat form “that doesn’t work”. Damn I don't think he heard? I mean saw what I typed? So again I type “that’s not working” hmm, then I reflect and ask myself, “am I being a co-producer or am I just being opinionated?” Then I take a step back and really listen and yep there it is again. I realize the part that isn’t working is not the part that is being mixed in. It had already been added and Nathan wasn’t going to replace it to make this other entry work but I could also tell he wanted them to work together. I have an Idea that may work and I rephrase “Nathan if you really want both parts in there try this on that first track maybe it will work?” What started as my first suggestion, had become a real life lesson. Opinions aren't heard they are earned and instantly I had become a part of this beautiful creative organism with this massive heart beat.
Holler and Hope, the latest Album from legendary songwriter Nathan Moore is a must have! Well I could say it that way, however I would be mis-representing the experience, selling it short as one might say. Sure Nathan Moore is a very prolific talented songwriter, musician and also happens to be a magician. But that is just the surface, which is all some people want out of a recommendation. If that's you then follow the link and go buy the album and support the art.(to support the Artist: https://nathansland.com/holler-and-hope.) Perhaps you can't support the Artist directly for whatever reason and that's ok you can follow the links below. Holler and Hope is available on every streaming platform out there, you can even say "Alexa, play the album Holler and Hope" and there it is.
Now if you are still reading, I applaud you for being part of the solution. You are one of the few who will be able to recognize magic when it appears in your life and it will. You see magic doesn't happen, it is made. You have to take risks and be vulnerable to make magic. I have shared the music that is Holler and Hope and Nathan Moore the artist, but now I want to share this magical place Nathansland where Holler and Hope was conceived. Nathansland is a destination like Wonkaland but for people with a sweet tooth for music! No seriously! Now I wouldn't be giving it the just due if I didn't make it clear I mean the Gene Wilder version of Wonkaland, but instead of the little orange dudes, Nathan Moore has what he has dubbed the Co-Producers. This record is now living and breathing because of this Mugician (a word I made up) Nathan and his Co-Producers. Like a child Holler and Hope is the product of true love born through magic.
I had asked Nathan if I could interview him for this story I was writing and I was happy when said he was sure we could work it out. Later that night I was watching his live show and true to Nathan Moore form an hour or so in he says “jump into the Disco Ona'' (the Disco is the live video chat room on Discord that Hippy Fiasco Rides Again TV uses for guests appearances) so there i am live on American Night Owl (he changed the name of the almost nightly show on Hippy Fiasco Rides Again TV) and first question had to be how he came up with this brilliant format for making a record? Nathan said "You know what the secret is? I've done it before." Now here I was thinking I am talking to a true life trailblazer when it hits me Nathan is a genius Songwriter, Mugician and now we are adding trailblazing Social Ninja to the list! "So you did this before?" "Yeah 10+ years ago I recorded a record called Hippy Fiasco Rides Again"
Now some of you might be thinking where have I heard that before? "Well that's a story for another time". Wait a minute, this new thing that everyone is doing these days with the live streaming, well Nathan Moore, the American Night Owl along with Co Pilots Chad Galactic and Liz Bunny did it 10+ years ago. "Hippy Fiasco Rides Again was a live 24x7 webcast we did while traveling from city to town performing nightly shows without pre-booking the tour we only played where we were invited and people contacted us through the website and we would play a show that night. This 24x7 webcast American tour lasted 4 months starting in San Francisco and ending at High Sierra Music Festival . So all the while we were making a record live on the web, we invited people to submit their tracks and get on the record. We ended up with over 300 submissions through the website for that record." Nathan explains that they tried to use all 300 parts which was a huge factor when he decided to do Holler and Hope he was determined to have a more critical voice this time around.
Nathan wanted to show more reserve having learned from the previous experience "to my surprise this time around there weren't really too many moments to be critical, most of the submissions were that good." Now I am sitting in the Disco having what has now turned into a 2 hour impromptu interview live broadcast and I am still high weeks later from the actual Co-Producer experience.
This has me reflecting on the Musicians who participated on Holler and Hope and I can't help but ask about one stand out by the name of Brad Barr of the The Barr Brothers and formally The Slip. Nathan explains he met Brad at High Sierra MF in 1999. Friends there is a side Barr here because I am telling you this guy Brad Barr is from another planet. An absolute musical genius. The guy is so beautifully humble and he instantly elevates anything he touches, what a gift to music he is.
So many great artists contributed to this record, Jay Cobb Anderson (Fruition), Rob Re Armenti of Bobcat Rob & The Nightly Howl , Chris Lynch, John Dodson, Arno Bakker (played all the horns), Shane Kalbach, Steve Conroy just to name a few. But the one Artist that seemed to really stand out was Lex Park who was like Nathan's Left hand who seems to do everything Nathan doesn't.
I had a chance to sit down with Lex and talk with him about working with Nathan.
Q: “Have you ever recorded in this format with live audience and audience participation?
A: “No, this was a first for me for sure. It was inspiring coming in and hearing all the work and progress that had been made by everyone during the week. There are usually guest appearances scattered and hidden throughout the NM records - at least on the ones I’ve been around for over the past 7 years - but the audience co-producing was definitely something new."
Q: ”What was that like to be on display like that?”
A: ”I was a nervous mess recording my parts live in front of an audience ready to chime in with suggestions, but it was a really fun way to work to get the feedback and encouragement from them all, make adjustments and get the take.”
Q: If you had to describe Nathan Moore in one word what word would you choose?
A: "Wow that’s a hard one because Nathan has so many layers. I would have to say" "Underrated"
Q: " Lex How has Nathan impacted you as an artist?”
A: "In 2014 the first Jam Cruise he took me on. We’re at The Spot and I was just trying to hold down the bass and was a little nervous with all the newness. He looks over and says “give it a listen and take your time. We got all night” It was invaluable insight at the perfect moment."
Q: "Lex I saw you well up a bit towards the end of the title track Holler and Hope, do you mind sharing?"
A: "It’s that last verse that always gets me. I know what it’s like to feel down, and I’ve lost countless people I love and admire to depression. That one reminds me of those who struggle and feel alone."
It's really easy to see how much Nathan respects Lex, his ability and approach to music are peaceful and free of expectations or boundaries. Lex can really play the bass and plays both electric and upright on the record. He also sings, plays drums and synths contributing in some fashion to nearly every song. Watching them flow together is like watching a couple of 8 year old boys exist in a make believe world. One minute they are shaolin monks Kung Fu fighting, the next a couple of old prospectors panning for gold, then boom Astronauts and they really seem to ground each other as they prepare for take off.
Nathan Moore is my kind of song maker breaking lyrical boundaries constantly, he is to words what Frank Zappa is to guitar. His music is like Captain Beefheart, Arlow Guthrie, Brian Wilson and Tom Waits all went to the same party at Ken Nordine's house, they smoked a joint and made a record together on the way out. Just as they were leaving Charles Bukowski shows up with Robert Fripp and they do it all again!.
So friends to wrap this up I want to say that I am really understating the magic that is planet Nathansland. Give the record a listen and make a point to download it and contribute what you can to Nathan so he can keep throwing this magic at us. Also jump over to YouTube, Facebook or Twitch and follow Hippy Fiasco Rides Again so the next time you are twiddling your thumbs in the middle of the night you might pop over and say hi maybe even make a record