Nathan Rogers – multiple performances on Facebook Live
This is just for a few laughs, he explained (no fundraising involved), but Nathan Rogers’ own peculiar brand of FUNraising just might be keeping some of us at least half sane in this era of self-isolation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Several times now, Nathan has been using Facebook Live to present his music. It’s becoming increasingly fun and weird, in a Nathan sort of way.
In the first of these musical posts that I happened upon, Nathan presented “Willie O’Winsbury,” a lovely Scottish ballad that dates from at least 1775, collected by Frances James Child and anthologized with some 300 others during the latter half of the 19th century. This song is my personal favourite from Nathan‘s 2009 recording The Gauntlet.
In “Willie O’Winsley,” the king is away in Spain for a long time. His daughter, Janet, becomes pregnant by the hero of the song, the commoner Willie. The king threatens to hang him but is so impressed with Willie’s beauty that he offers for Willie to marry Janet and become a lord in his land. Willie accepts Janet’s hand but not the peerage, so Janet becomes the rich and regal ruler. It is a feminist story from a time when women were frequently married off to suit their father’s ambitions. Good on Nathan for bringing it to modern audiences yet again.
The next live video featured Nathan singing “Restless Wind,” a Willie P. Bennett song. He took the song and completely transformed it with weird vocalizations and a bit of throat singing. Nathan is an accomplished Mongolian and Tuvan throat singer, and it makes my own heart leap with joy when I hear this music.
One of Nathan’s fans opined that she’d be happy just to hear Nathan crack his knuckles, let alone hear him sing or play anything. Nathan, of course, obliged, right in front of the camera! He does have a singular sense of humour.
The next online posting, Nathan talked about open G tuning and played “Mary and the Soldier,” which he explained was one of his favourite pieces of music. He got this tune from a 1974 Andy Urban and Paul Brady record, where those musicians were wanting to show off the skills of Irish musicians, skills which went far beyond the usual Irish trad fare of the time.
Later, Nathan did a strong performance of “Copper Flowers,” by Phaedra Kemp, giving his gorgeous Laskin guitar a fantastic workout while he sang those lovely lyrics. And then, he did an awesome a cappella thing—just his voice, a mic, DI for regulation of the mic and a digital echo pedal. Throat singing, voice improvisations and beat boxing combined to create a soundscape of Nathan’s rhythmic weirdness, finishing up with his patented evil grin. It was so cool. It made my day. It might make yours.
All of these pieces are up on Nathan’s Facebook page. Enjoy listening during your self-isolation!