On the first Wednesday of every month Hymie’s hosts a DJ night at the Turf Club – we usually bring in a guest or two to spin records with us and play tracks from the past month’s most exciting finds. Our twist on the traditional DJ set is that you can walk up and buy anything you hear. People buy the records we spin pretty often, and Chris Tures (Dragons Power Up!, Aldine) probably holds the record for selling the most in a short set.
Only once has somebody bought the very first record we played – and that record was “Play Loud!” by Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band. Can’t blame ’em – it’s a goooood song. “Play Loud!” is a classic rocker anthem, but what’s really amazing is that all of Nato’s songs are this much fun. Everything this guy does has the exuberance of “Rosalita” at Winterland or the Undertones’ first record. My guess is that Nato could sing the hell out of some sad old 70s side two ballad, but not one of us wants to hear his “Dust in the Wind” when we he could be playing a song like “I-94” instead:
I guess living on the east coast all those years didn’t spoil Nato’s sense of midwestern pride – If I had to venture a guess, Nato’s only problem with I-94 would be that it trails off into Michigan instead of following the rust belt all the way to Buffalo.
We featured “Play Loud!” just before New Year’s when Nato announced that his backing group, the Blue Diamond Band, would learn any song you requested during their February residency at Grumpy’s. “Karaoke with Nato” was a huge success, and also I think a testimony to the accessibility he is trying to achieve with his music. In an interview before moving to Minneapolis, Nato describes his songwriting in a way that is still relevant:
I have been trying to write songs that are more universal, maybe timeless, stuff that people can relate to no matter who they are.
I don’t think Barry Manilow himself could have put it better, and he writes the songs that the whole world sings. There’s really no reason a song like “Play Loud!”, “I-94” or the Used Kids gem “I Miss My Records” isn’t a huge hit, except that the kind of people who love good old fashioned rock and roll are used to getting it from radio stations like KQ92 (who almost certainly played “Dust in the Wind” at some point today, dontcha think?). Nato’s songs are so good they could be fit seamlessly into a playlist of classic rock hits – too good even, because it’s not fair to the Kansases of the world simply because they’re not as awesome as Nato.
Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band will perform here at Hymie’s Records on Sunday at 3 PM. It’s gonna be a good time.