Nate has played everywhere from NYC clubs and piano bars to the cathedrals of Europe. Trained in both the classical and jazz genres, Nate's music reflects his Libra sign - eclecticism is the key, and a wide array of songs in a pop idiom infusing elements of jazz, latin, classical and R & B ensures that everyone always has a good time and hears something they can latch on to. Performing both originals and covers, Nate is featured on piano and vocals and performs in large clubs, intimate settings, special events, or simply as background music. His latest release, "Little Boy Flying," has sold hundreds of copies and presents pop tunes that tell interesting stories and carry positive messages.
Nate is featured on piano and vocals, and also plays cello and sax in recordings. He collaborates with a number of other musicians including Trevor Buccieri - guitar, drums; Matt Karb - guitar; Trey Lander - bass; Shanna Sharp - vocals.
"Waiting," 2003, The Gorda Records - full length LP. "Little Boy Flying," 2008, The Gorda Records - full length LP.
Nate Buccieri, Piano Man Extraordinaire
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NATE BUCCIERI Circus Cafe, Saratoga Springs NY 8-20-08 It would take some doing to exaggerate ...NATE BUCCIERI Circus Cafe, Saratoga Springs NY 8-20-08
It would take some doing to exaggerate how exciting a performer Nate Buccieri is. Watching his piano bar act, I kept feeling like I had been transported back to a juke joint in the Deep South during the Depression, to an era before amplification and electronics, when sheer force of personality and dynamism and a quick wit and the raw power at your fingertips were all any entertainer had to work with. Before he arrived, the regulars at the Circus Cafe, a fairly tiny bar and restaurant on the main strip in Saratoga Springs, New York, broke into rapturous smiles when I said I was here to do a story on him, speaking glowingly-- lovingly-- of his buoyant energy, and then kind of drifting off into their own private reveries, unable to convey precisely the mechanics of his appeal-- just wallowing in the memory. Nick, the bartender, grinned ear to ear at the mention of his name, drying the glass in his hand with a newfound fury. "You don't want to be in his line of sight when he starts making up lyrics," longtime friend and fan Liana told me.
And then, there he was, scrambling in through the door, lugging a Roland EP-9 keyboard, a KC-300 amp, and all the accoutrements proving it was indeed 2008: Shure SM-58 mic, its stand, a teeny 4 channel Alesis mixer, a music stand, clip-on light, and several bookshelves worth of music-- music books, loose sheet music, and loose leaf binders with covers long since snapped off. He raced to set up his encampment. Dressed incredibly nonchalantly-- had he been what, painting his bathroom before he jumped into his car?-- he looks sort of like a very, very young Mel Gibson. Very casual, his hair pretty much a mess, he's one of these people where the life force is a little frantic, spinning him like a marionette. He seemed almost carbonated. Seeing a familiar face sparked a joyous outburst, sincere and effusive... there were a series of these joyous reunions before he got underway. As I lent a hand helping him set up, he confided how the floor was so slick that his damper pedal chronically slid out from underfoot-- on cue, out of nowhere, an elderly gent showed up with an ingenious contraption he'd made, just for Nate, just for this occasion: an adjustable metal bar that could clamp between the feet of the keyboard stand, with a bracket to hold the pedal in place. Tragically, it's tightest setting was about an inch too long, and it didn't quite grasp the legs of the keyboard stand. The inventor noted the modifications necessary. I found myself pestering the staff for some duct tape.
The voice that wells out of this gangly, unassuming chap is very distinctive and utterly entrancing. "He makes you feel like... I don't know..." Liana's friend and fellow schoolteacher Thea stammered, "... like you just want to be right there!" He's synthesized the urgent, strangled intensity of boy band, the freewheeling, urban yodelling of soul, and the nearly pitchless confessionalism of american idol into a mellow, undulating warbling that I don't know how to describe. I asked him, before he started, if he'd come up with some kind of set list for the evening.
"I usually just wait until I get here, and then take the pulse of the room, and see what the crowd seems like it wants. This looks like a 'Tiny Dancer' crowd."
Amid the general din, he launched into 'Walking in Memphis,' full-throated and wailing. His eyes continuously darted around to gauge the reaction, but the performance itself was on a sure-footed auto-pilot. Not only does he obviously love to sing, when he's singing he's tapping into some well-spring of energy and wringing the maximum emotion from every phrase, spinning out the words like it's a game of crack-the-whip. All night long, whatever the tune, he delivered it all with a vaguely syncopated, Broadway-esque style. His fingerplay was not particularly flashy nor complicated, but it was virtuoso, perfectly tailored to the mission at hand. When he staked out some bluesy, Motowny rhythm, simply hammering out a straight up and down blues pattern, no more than a primal, staccato beat, it packed an incredibly powerful punch, it's like a rocket was taking off. When his feet pounded the floor, it was the perfect, essential accompaniment. In the recording world, that sound isn't called a "kick" for nothing.
Like they say, timing is everything. Or no-- it's the gift for using your timing. That's what makes people feel like they've been lifted off the floor. His website, www.nateonthekeys.com , has a vast archive of youtubes showing him singing, and a common theme is a dense audience chatter at the start of a song which gradually subsides, until by the end the audience is raptly attentive and cheers madly when he finishes. Considering this happens with his original songs that the crowd may never have even heard before, it's quite an achievement. Sometimes he gets so overcome with the guttural intensity of performing that his left hand rises momentarily from the keys and does a rapperish shuddering, thumb and pinky flailing, and this seems quite unconscious, just a part of feeling the music to its fullest. It always strikes me as almost contradictory when someone's speaking voice is squeaky and humble to a fault when their singing voice is mellifluous and authoritative and rich and extravagant-- anyone remember Jim Nabors?-- but Liana explained it thusly; "When you're under the spotlight, you really reach down inside yourself. It's not just 'you'-- it's 'you' expressing whatever you have to give. You're bigger than yourself."
It's a cheesy journalistic ploy to say 'I caught up with Nate' to preface an interview, but if you want to talk with Nate Buccieri, you'd better be moving quickly.
Reflect for a second where you are in your career now. Playing several times a week, regular gigs, into the forseeable future. The momentum. What part of the dream are you in now, the dream you had when you started?
Good question! [Also cheesy to highlight when your subject observes that you've asked him or her a good question.] I think the dream sort of keeps changing-- not even 'keeps changing.' I guess the dream is a malleable dream. It's not necessarily one goal that I've been shooting for, but I just want to be involved in things, I want to be doing what I'm doing. This is the dream, in part, and I know that there's more to be had, but this is what I've been wanting to be doing! I want to be able to play music several times a week. And just be happy doing it, and make enough money to eat. The ultimate dream? I'd love to be able to travel around, and spend lots of time writing, and then make it back to New York for a couple months, and then be off again to wherever for another couple months, that would be great. But this is the dream, I'm very, very happy with it now. I try not to let myself ever forget that.
You connect so well and so immediately with audiences. Is that something you've had to work on? Have you been that way since you were a little kid?
I think I've always connected with people, as far as interpersonal relationships are concerned, since I was a kid, not necessarily performing. I had alot of shyness I had to get over. Even just to be able to sing and make eye contact at the same time. It kind of took alot of work!
So that was a hurdle you had to get over?
It definitely was, yeah.
What was your first open mic gig like, what happened?
I guess the first one of these types of things [playing in public] was at the Fuzebox in Albany. I guess that was easier, because there were only about seven people there and I pretty much knew them all. But I certainly didn't have the repertoire at the time, and I just wasn't really comfortable. It wasn't quite so busy here tonight, but there's the aspect of 'running the room,' communicating with everyone, making everybody feel welcome. Alot of people have requests, making sure you've got that going on. There's alot of like 'management' things that you wouldn't think are that important, but they definitely are important aspects of it, too.
So in the back of your mind you're always scanning the way things are going, you might need to speed it up next, you might need to slow it down next...
Yeah, definitely. Definitely. Like, 'oop, we're losing 'em, let's not go that direction then.' That's what I was getting at before when you were asking earlier, 'what songs are you thinking about doing tonight?' I don't really know until I get there, see everything, and then, 'oh, totally, they would LIVE for that.'
[Liana approaches with a request for Nate to sign Thea's copy of his CD.] [Meekly] Could she wait, like, a couple minutes? Is she cool with that?
The CD, Little Boy Flying, sounds like a live stage show you'd see at a rodeo somewhere, all cowboy boot dance rhythms, swirling balladry, sharp stepping horn sections and lush layers of background singers swooping in and out. Message pop music, it borrows heavily from an 80's language-- an eloquence of guitars, magical synthesizers, percolating percussion and sound effects and soundscapes beyond dreaming, all serving up a smooth and shimmying pop beat. Nate is the alternately exultant and heartbroken narrator of a parable that takes a tour through modern life: its cities and its most desperate private moments. Four and a half stars, on any scale.
How have your audiences changed? When you look out now, what is your impression of how people react to you, as opposed to a year ago, five years ago, two years ago?
The regulars-- they are just lovely people to me. They treat me well, and they'll come back alot, and they'll bring friends with them, and advise others so they'll come see a show. That's really cool, I think that's really the bulk of it, building regulars as you go, that's the bulk of the audience.
This piano bar stuff is so interpersonal, it's not like you're on a stage and there's a sea of faces out there and you can't really tell who they are. You can always see who they are. And someone can always ask you for a request. So it's always... [searches for the right word]... touchy-feely.
I think... it's like with the regulars, you're building friends as you go along, like, 'oh, you've been here a couple of times.' And there's always random people that will come in that you feel some extra connection with. I grew up in Buffalo, and there was some girl the other night when I was playing, and I was like, 'you're gonna love this,' we were just joking back and forth, and she's like 'I'm from Buffalo,' and I'm like, "There you go!' There's always those little connection things. And she'll come back some time, she'll totally come back.
You're a mesmerizing performer, it doesn't seem like you are ever intimidated or disappointed. [Another fan rushes up to say goodbye, and the train of thought is lost.] What were we talking about?
[Unsure.] It was the girl from Buffalo. And 'she'll be back.' And you started to get into another question... I guess we could listen back. [Motions to recorder.]
Or we should just move along. I'm a busy man, and my time is money.
Just out of curiosity, what's the percentage of live versus studio overdubs on your latest CD?
I do have live clips of these songs on the website, but the CD is all studio recordings. Alot of it-- unfortunately-- wasn't put down at once because I don't have the apparatus to do that. I have my eight track Pro Tools. In order to give four mics to the drums and three mics to the piano, we did things in layers. We did keyboards and drums together, but then I redid my piano over that. There's definitely alot of creative problem solving, 'how are we going to get the most tracks but still abide by the limitations of the equipment?'
It sounds incredible. It sounds like everything is totally live. You can tell the vocals were overdubbed, they're so clear and there isn't any bleed [from other instruments] that it can't be live, but the whole feel, and the mixing, and the thickness of the reverb is so refreshing to hear.
So much modern stuff that's done like this so airless and so clean that it doesn't have any life, and your stuff has tremendous life.
It's probably a result of: I don't have sweet enough mics to achieve that. But I don't necessarily want to achieve that! I love hearing the room. Like I was saying before [during the show], about that Carpenters recording, you can hear her lip smacks, and you're there, in the room. I can't believe I made a Carpenters reference!
We'll edit that out.
I do love hearing the room, that's what I wanted to achieve, and that's what I was worried we wouldn't achieve by layering everything up. It was all done in the same room... just at different times. My dog was there the whole time.
What kind of a dog do you have?
A Samoyed. He's my family's dog, But when my brother was up, making these recordings with me, the dog was there pretty much through every take. Didn't make a peep. Not one peep, God bless him.
Good dog! And there's a saxophone player, is that a real live person?
That's me on the sax. I play sax and cello. Not very well, for either of them, but well enough.
So you're a true multi-instrumentalist. Okay, last two questions. Sight reading is the epitome of what the non-musician can't do. They can't make their fingers work in time, and they can't imagine how these dots on paper are instructing them to move their fingers in time. Whereas you are a brilliant sightreader-- so says your website, and I believe it.
Not that I believe everything I read on the web! But-- what is it about somebody like you, where music is such an instinctive, and... what's the word... easy and natural thing. What makes it so inherent with you, creating music?
I hate to give such a wussy answer, but just doing it all the time. 'Lots of practice!' It's not so much practice, preparation, but just doing it alot. I think just innately, something... I was seven, grandma got a new piano, we ended up with her old one, the lady across the street taught piano lessons, and it just fit. Mom never had to ask me to practice, type thing, so I think it's just kind of innate, too. I would never feel so comfortable on the saxophone. I could really, really practice, for the next few years, really, really hard, but it still wouldn't be just this innate part of me. A friend had told me this about driving. I was like 14, 15, and he was older, and I was like, 'how do you do that?' And he was like, 'the car just becomes an extension of yourself, that's how you have to think of it.' And that sort of stuck with me. And I think it's kind of the same way, it's [the piano] just become an extension of me now. There's certainly pieces, more into the classical realm, that I'm like, 'okay, shut up-- you have to concentrate right now on this, and only on this,' and really go through it. But-- I don't know, I like not having to concentrate on it totally, more feeling things, and just kind of going with it, and being able to look around the room while I'm doing something, and enjoy some moment over in the corner.
Right! That's the thing, it's like you're always looking around, and your hands are playing themselves, no matter how distracted you are, it's an automatic thing, it keeps on going. And I loved it when you were playing a song, you thought of a segue, so you kept up a bass pattern, you reached down, grabbed a music book, set it up on the stand, bass pattern continues, you flipped through the pages until you found 'Bennie and the Jets,' or whatever it was. That was very cool, I don't think I've ever seen that before. You're so spontaneous about this stuff. Doing it all the time, it must be completely second nature.
It feels pretty second nature. That's my favorite part about it, I think that's what keeps it so fresh. I think if I did, like, 'these are the 35 songs that I do, and I'm going to do them every night, in the same order,' I just think it would get really tired for me very fast. I like walking into a situation where you don't really know what the vibe's going to be like until you get there, that's kind of the good part. Maybe 7% of the time you're disappointed, you're like, 'that's not really the vibe I was looking for,' but the other 93% of the time, it's like, 'ooh, this is going to be fun!' And then you just can't wait, and you're like, 'ooh, I should do this! And ooh, I should do this!' And that's why I like having the books, not just so I can use the music, but so that I can look through them and get ideas, 'ooh, I can do this! I wouldn't have thought about doing this.' Even if people ask: 'Play me a song.' I'm like, '...I don't know... [where to start to pick out what song to play, why don't you tell me and we'll both know!]...'
You need a cue.
Exactly, somehow you've got to go off something. And then you're doing some song, and someone asks you for another song, and you're like, 'oh, if you like that, then you'll like this...' And that just makes it the most fun, that's what I love about it so much. It's not a prescribed set, It's just-- see what happens, see where it goes.
And you improvise lyrics.
Liana actually told me tonight to 'be good.' 'Don't worry, I'll be good.' Well, especially with songs like 'Piano Man,' that's the best one.
Right, because it's character sketches of people in a bar, and here you are, in a bar, it would be odd to reel off the 'real' lyrics.
Some songs just lend themselves very well to making up words. I like that.
And you play 'Piano Man,' which is a hackneyed song, you play it so freshly and so authentically, and you lift it out of its hackneyed mire, and you make it important, somehow. Every song, you give a 'piano bar' treatment, are you consciously doing that?
Maybe sometimes, most of the time, no. Sometimes I'll literally think, 'I want to switch this up, put some Latin flair into this or whatever, what have you.' Some songs, I like not listening to them. Like Bad Company? Nick wanted me to learn it, and I listened to it once, so I could hear how it went, because I couldn't find the actual sheet music. But that was it. I usually don't like to listen to things alot, because then I'll get THAT into my head. And end up reproducing THAT.
So you're not there to be a jukebox. You're there to seize the moment. And then give it what it deserves. I guess that's the essence of live performance: tailoring it to the crowd, the night, what's going on.
Put a little extra something in, too. Take some solo in some tune, that's like, 'oh, that's not part of it, that's cool, that's something different.' And then of course there are the tunes that people just want them like the original. There's a time and I place, I guess, really. You can't mess with some things.
Last question: putting your personality up for sale... because I realize this is what I do. The writing that I do has these exaggerated tempos. That's what I do, that's what makes it fun. But for me, I'm just writing on a sheet of paper and I submit the thing, and there's a big difference between me and the thing that's written down that goes up somewhere. But for you... you are there. Is there any kind of trepidation about that or is it just so natural, you want to connect with people, you're happy that they're listening to you, you just go with it?
All of those. Yes, trepidation. Yes, happy to connect with people. Liken to what you were saying, same thing with the CD. Like, I don't know if you're gonna get home and like it, I don't know if you're gonna get home and throw it right away! Maybe not even listen to it at all! But I think I'm almost maybe more comfortable just putting myself out there in the live performance setting.
Because you're so self confident?
Well... confident to a reasonable extent. But I also know that most of the places I'm playing, people are there for that. People are there to hear some music and they expect something that's entertaining, exciting! And that's again why I like to see who's there, and structure it accordingly. Much better to make people happy and go with what they want to hear. Versus, 'these are the songs that I want to play tonight, and you're going to listen to them, and you're going to enjoy them.' Because they won't, they'll be like, 'I haven't known one of the last seven songs. Now I'm getting annoyed.'
I guess... you're always up on the chopping block, it doesn't matter what you're doing. There's always somebody looking at you and critiquing you every step of the way, be it some terrible boss, the ruler-on-the-knuckles type boss, or an audience, or peers in the office, or whatever. I think it's just getting easier with time. I definitely wasn't this confident five years ago or two years ago. I feel good about it now. There's always crappy nights, but as long as most people leave happy most of the time, I'm happy.
I'm going to give a hostage to fortune. I'm going to predict that Nate Buccieri makes a huge splash-- or that the splash that you make is going to get bigger and bigger, it's going to turn into a tsunami.
Your mouth to God's ear!
No, it's inspiring to see you perform, because you take it by the horns, and you run with it. From the first note, there's zero sense of anxiety, of you want us to like you, which is the thing with performers that makes an audience uneasy, the nervousness. Whereas if they would realize of course the audience wants to like them, like you say, they're there to have a good time. They're not critics! And so you've, in a big way, caught that secret of life. That an audience staring at you is a wonderful thing, because then you have the chance to shine. Rather than feeling, 'arrgh! They're staring at me! What if I hit a wrong note!'
And if I can add, giving you stuff too, I was talking to a friend of mine about this just the other night. 'How come you never get the same vocal performance in the studio that you get infront of a live audience?' Because you're feeling so much from them. When you and an audience are there at the same place, it's just incredible, because you totally feel it, like, 'dude, they're TOTALLY into this, this is great! Now I'll sing this higher and louder!' you know, it definitely inspires you. Where I would never sit in my apartment singing songs for three hours, completely entertained, doing that? No, definitely not, it's all about doing it for the audience. And getting something back from them.
"And You've Got Us Feelin' Alright"
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And You’ve Got Us Feelin’ All Right Piano man Nate Buccieri loves his work By Stephen Leon A hu...And You’ve Got Us Feelin’ All Right
Piano man Nate Buccieri loves his work
By Stephen Leon
A hush falls over the 30-or-so people seated at tables in the upstairs room at the Larkin as they hear the first piano chords of a very, very familiar song. It’s a moment that, most likely, has reproduced itself thousands of times at piano bars everywhere since the song’s release in 1973; and the song itself was written about this very experience of playing familiar songs to familiar faces at a weekly bar gig. “It’s 11 o’clock on a Wednesday,” begins Nate Buccieri, making an appropriate adjustment to the first line of Billy Joel’s “Piano Man.”
But Buccieri—who himself must have played this song a hundred times—doesn’t stop there. Every verse contains goof lyrics—mostly made up on the spot (Buccieri says he does work out pairs of rhyming words, and perhaps a punchline or two, ahead of time)—poking good-natured fun at his friends and family (on this night, his mother is here) in the audience. And he doesn’t spare the Metroland writer and photographer in attendance: “Never mind that guy with the notebook/Never mind that guy with the flash/They say they’re here to do a story/But they’re really just a pain in my ass.”
A goof version of “Piano Man” is pretty much a staple now of Piano Bar, Buccieri’s weekly Wednesday-night gig at the Larkin Lounge in Albany. Though the evening is largely devoted to audience members taking turns at the microphone to Buccieri’s accompaniment, he also performs on his own, cheerfully taking requests. And “Piano Man”—well, let’s face it—it’s one of the most overplayed songs of all time. “At first I would just do the song,” Buccieri says. “[But] the song by itself is such a cliché, and I’m probably less than enthusiastic to do it, [so] I would keep myself interested by putting in a few extra words here and there. Then I kind of ran with it.”
The evolution of Buccieri’s butchered “Piano Man” reflects, in a way, the evolution of Piano Bar from the quiet Tuesday evenings of its beginnings in fall 2001 to the more sizeable, often quite lively gatherings he attracts now—and to the way in which the evening has taken on a very distinct vibe reflecting the personalities of Buccieri and his regulars, and the little rituals they’ve established. Indeed, Piano Bar’s core clientele is so attached to the weekly event that they often feel guilty when they can’t make it. “Actually,” Buccieri says, “it was cute, a couple of times, when people called [and said], ‘Oh, I’m sorry we can’t come down.’ ”
Buccieri, 27, had been doing a piano-bar gig at the Fuze Box when Adrian Cohen, a fellow pianist and then the music booker at the Larkin, suggested he try doing a similar evening there. One immediate benefit was that Buccieri got to play a much nicer piano, as the upright at the Fuze Box is in disrepair, while the grand at the Larkin is usually in good tune and has beautiful, rich tones. But even more important to Buccieri than the quality of the piano is the quality of the crowd he has attracted.
“I love it,” he says, almost sheepish as his sentimental sincerity shows through. “I can’t say enough good things about it. I don’t think it would be as much fun if there weren’t such great, eclectic people that came. That’s what makes it fun—always a good vibe. It’s a nice crowd, and it’s a warm crowd, they all get along.”
As the regular crowd shuffles in, Buccieri, in his good-natured, up-for-anything manner, begins fielding requests from people who want to get up and sing. Some want to do favorites that they’ve done there over and over; some query Buccieri on whether he knows something they haven’t tried there before; and still others, especially newcomers, flip through the trunkful of songbooks he brings to the gig, looking for something they’d like to try. The songs run the gamut from show tunes to piano-pop classics by the likes of the Beatles, Elton John and Billy Joel (being bored by “Piano Man” is no dis to this obvious influence of Buccieri’s; two of his favorites to perform are “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” and “Until the Night”), to more contemporary artists such as Oasis (and I have a hunch he’d play Erasure if you asked—just a hunch).
An accomplished sight reader, Buccieri occasionally is stumped if he doesn’t know the song well and doesn’t have the sheet music—and that’s his first answer to the question of whether anything that happens at Piano Bar is “annoying.”
“Probably, honestly, the most annoying thing—and it’s not really annoying because of anyone else, it’s all completely internal—is just when there’s some songs that I don’t know, or someone [asks for] all songs from the ’40s, and just don’t have any of it. If I have something and I don’t know it, I’m totally willing to do it, and it usually works out fine.”
Buccieri is then reminded of a certain audience member who, one night, probably had exceeded his limit and, for several songs in succession, supplied loud “harmony” from his chair halfway back in the room. A smile creeping across his face, Buccieri gets up, goes over to the piano, and begins playing “Piano Man”—this time imitating the painful-sounding moan that had been offered that night as harmony.
“But he’s a nice guy,” Buccieri quickly adds. “These people don’t really annoy me, because they mean well and they’re just having a good time, so it’s more funny than it is annoying. What annoys me the most is that I know they’re annoying other people.”
He does recall a couple of serious jerks. “They just don’t know how to behave. . . . If you interrupt the vibe, that’s what upsets me. People are very in tune to what’s going on here, so it’s not just that they’re annoying me—they’re annoying everybody. And they just throw a wrench into the whole works. But that happens really, really infrequently.”
And although Buccieri works all day Wednesday—teaching, and rehearsing for his gigs as a church pianist/organist and as an accompanist-on-demand—he claims it’s never a chore to work four more hours at Piano Bar. “I always look forward to it,” he says. “It’s really not a frustrating experience at all. It took a couple of months to get into and to get used to, and to get the whole feeling going, but I just look forward to it now, because I know it’s going to be a fun time.”
Nate Buccieri’s love affair with the piano began when he was 7, living with his family in the Buffalo area, and his grandmother bought a Steinway. It wasn’t the Steinway he fell in love with, but the piano it replaced, which came to live at his house. “I don’t even think I knew we were getting it,” he recalls. “But I still remember the day we got it, walking into the living room, and it was over there by the window, and I was just like . . .”
Like he knew he wanted to play piano?
“I think I did as soon as I saw it.”
Soon he was taking lessons from a neighbor, and loving it. “My mom says that she never had to ask me to practice,” he says.
“I used to come home from middle school,” he says, “and . . . nobody was home. I could just sit down and play the piano and sing. . . . I was still really shy, like I wouldn’t do it necessarily in front of other people, but I enjoyed it tremendously.”
He joined a heavy-metal band when he was in 8th grade; in high school, he played cello in the school orchestra, saxophone in the band. He also plays—not as well, he insists—guitar, clarinet and bassoon. He attended SUNY Geneseo as an elementary-education major, but transferred to UAlbany and became a music major, getting his degree in 1998, then going on to the College of St. Rose to do courses for teaching certification. With all the work he gets now teaching lessons and accompanying (he does recitals and concerts for individuals, choral groups, etc.), he is phasing himself out of his other job waiting tables.
The accomplishment Buccieri is most proud of these days is his just-released solo CD, Waiting (The Gorda Records), featuring 11 original songs in the singer-songwriter mode, many (but not all) piano-based. Among the musician and background-vocal credits on the disc are five friends who also are regulars at Piano Bar.
In fact, Buccieri’s Piano Bar—unlike some karaoke nights—seems to draw people who can actually carry a tune. “And have improved over time,” he adds.
He explains that when people first start coming, it usually takes a few times before they get comfortable enough to get up and sing. And he mentions one woman in particular who started showing up regularly, but was very quiet; and he’d ask her, teasingly, when she was going to come up and sing, knowing she probably wouldn’t. Then one Wednesday evening, he coaxed her up to the mike.
“And she got up and turned it. And clearly impressed everybody—everybody was like, woooo—I like moments like those.”
And in spite of the fact that Piano Bar does at times feel a bit like a family reunion, and for all of the inside jokes he tosses off in his weekly rendition of “Piano Man,” Buccieri takes pains to make sure the vibe isn’t exclusive. “That’s the most wonderful thing,” he says. “Anybody can just walk in here and fit in. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what you want to sing, or what you like or what you dislike.”
"Piano Man Nate Buccieri's CD Release Party"
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By Jessica Pasko Amateur crooners in A-Town remember him as their favorite piano man -- the guy wit...By Jessica Pasko
Amateur crooners in A-Town remember him as their favorite piano man -- the guy with an amazing repertoire of pop standards and show tunes who could deftly accompany the best and, um, not-so-best singers in the region. But Nate Buccieri plays great music of his own and he's celebrating the release of his second album Little Boy Flying with a pair of parties at Justin's -- and one of them is tonight.
Nate's sing-along piano cabaret nights have been beloved in their various incarnations at the Fuze Box, the former Larkin, Savannah's and most recently, Justin's in Albany and the Circus Café in Saratoga. The former Albany resident recently moved to Brooklyn, where he's now also navigating the New York City music scene.
Nate's CD release celebration kicks off tonight at 9 p.m., reservations required. If you can't make it this Monday, there will be another chance on Monday the 21st.
Nate first started playing the piano when he was 7 and he was quickly hooked. He says he started spending his $2 weekly allowance on 45s and sheet music, and started making recordings with his friends at the age of 11.
After pursuing music at SUNY Albany, Nate began performing, teaching and directing full time. In 2000, he was asked to play at the Fuze Box on what he calls "one of the worst pianos I've ever played." That gig led to a lot of long-time friendships, as well as numerous other gigs throughout the Capital Region and New York City area. His extensive piano bar repertoire includes a diverse range: originals, Broadway hits, classic rock, jazz standards, and of course, ironic renderings of songs by the famous piano man himself, Billy Joel.
Nate says the title "Little Boy Flying" has a variety of meanings, including a game he used to play with his aunt when he was a little child that involved "flying" on top of their raised legs. But it also has to do with the general experience of traveling, seeing new things and exploring the world. Most of his writing, in fact, occurs when he's on trains, in parks, on streets, and amidst the world and amongst people.
He started recording the album with his brother about two years ago and he's done all the recording, editing, and mixing by himself. It's being released by his own label, The Gorda Records, which is named after one of his beloved cats. He's already working on his next album, in fact.
For reservations tonight (or next week) call Justin's at 436-2008. There's a cover charge of $3. If you can't make either of those dates, you can also catch Nate at a couple of events in Saratoga later this month and throughout August. His site has more details. Copies of "Little Boy Flying" are available at the release parties, through Nate's site, and also at CDbaby.com and iTunes.
Nate's set list always depends upon the vibe of the crowd. He is always prepared with a suitcase full of originals and covers, and uses the energy of the crowd to determine in which direction the performance should go. His typical repertoire can include his own quirky message-pop originals; contemporary and Brit pop such as Radiohead, John Mayer, 80's/90's, etc.; pop standards from Billy, Elton, Journey, etc.; jazz standards such as Billie Hoilday, Gershwin, Sinatra; R & B; crowd sing-alongs; Broadway tunes; oldies throughout the century...Nate does not play anything inappropriate for the night's audience...Instead, he lets the audience dictate where the music should go, and is always happy to latch onto the energy and go with it.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.