Nate & Kate
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Nate & Kate


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"Duo Tries to Draw Younger Fans to Folk"

Duo tries to draw younger fans to folk


By Chris Kocher
Press & Sun-Bulletin

Sure, folk duo Nate &
Kate have some really good
songs and stellar harmonies,
and that should be more than enough to turn some heads. But sometimes what really gets an audience’s attention is the juggling
— oh, and the part where Nate balances his various instruments, one at a time, on his chin. For Binghamton University grad Nate Marshall and Hamilton College alumna Kate Hand, adding a little vaudeville touch to a performance is
all part of the fun. “The important thing is that people look,” Marshall
said from the road before a Rochester gig last week. “If we’re in a tough room — in a bar or something, where people are talking and loud — we can start the show with me balancing my harmonica on my chin, then a little ukulele, and then my guitar. By then, people are looking, and then they have to listen to the first song.
I’ll make a monkey of myself, if necessary. … It’s a little bit of a spectacle.”

The quirky twosome has been building a life together on and off the stage since meeting in early 2005. Marshall grew up on a Hudson Valley farm, playing guitar and writing songs since he was 16. Hand, a native of the Elmira area, started singing and playing the
cello at age 4, and she had performed in orchestras and choirs as well as a few rock bands. As a couple, they are updating old-time sounds for younger listeners — although there is plenty for all ages to enjoy.

Marshall, who studied classical music at BU, blends shades of blues, ragtime, music hall and gospel into the Nate & Kate songbook. Hand, who Marshall sweetly calls “the brains behind
the operation,” helps bring the
songs to life with her suggestions for making them better. “If he’s doing something one way, I smack him over the head and say, ‘Hey, why don’t we try it this way?’ Then we argue — you know how the
creative process is!” Hand said with a laugh.

However everything comes together, it must be working. Their Nate & Kate debut album, “Fame by Frame,” offers up 12 original tracks that are far from the usual meditations on boymeets-girl dynamics.

Album opener “ttyl now baby” is a
country shuffle about an online
breakup, written entirely in Instant
Messenger shorthand. For those not in the know, “ttyl” means “talk to you later” — although it’s clear in the song that that’s a hollow promise. Another one for the under-30 crowd is “The Dancing Screen”: The hushed harmonies
and earnest delivery give the
story of a young Nintendo addict a
faux-seriousness; an instrumental
bridge re-imagines famous videogame tunes as arranged on cello and guitar.

“Just a Lonely Sphere” imagines our
sun seeking companionship through a personal ad, while “Anna’s Afternoon” follows a dog’s lazy, pressure-free day just loping around the farm. “Face in the Checkout Aisle” boasts a cool 1950s doo-wop feel and some supermarket sound effects — but it asks serious questions about all the pretty airbrushed faces that stare back at us from those magazine covers.

The Dylan-esque “Like Dandelion
Seeds to the Wind” speaks of a complex love, like the call of a Greek siren: “And her heart, it rings like a buoy / Out there on the salty waves/ And you’ll never be sorry/ If you just let the undertow sweep you away.” Album closer “When Our Day is Done” offers a fanciful look at the hereafter, where we’ll be free from work, eat tangerines and hang out with dearly departed poets.

But a real highlight of the CD is the
orchestral lullaby “Dark Side of the
World,” in which dad tells a bedtime
story to his child. As the kid drifts off to sleep, a string section swells and
takes listeners on a manic tour of dreamland. Then the song settles back to Dad’s perspective and his
own tired adult problems — but soon he’ll be in a dreamland of his own.

These days, Marshall finds a lot of inspiration off the beaten path.
“I’ve written 80 or 85 songs, so I’ve already written a lot about what it’s like to get left by someone that
you love, or what it’s like to be hurt or to hurt someone else. I’ve written those songs with a more typical perspective, a more singer/songwriter kind of thing — the subject matter you’re used to hearing about,” he said. “Then I started having these songs — we thought of them as little portraits.
Instead of just telling our own stories, why not tell a story from the eyes of a golden retriever? Or, let’s use the sun as a light allegory for loneliness.”

Both Marshall and Hand find their
sly combination of humor and heart
goes over well with college crowds, at places like Binghamton’s Cyber Café and in Ithaca, which they now call home. But they have their sights set on the general folk audience, too. “We’re trying to bridge the separation of the young kids from folk,” Hand said. “The best venues to get into are these old folk venues that have been around for a long time, where people who are doing them remember what it was like when the greats were doing folk and folk really had its heyday.”

Also appearing:
The soulful and sultry voice of
singer/songwriter Abigail Payne
echoes jazz greats such as Billie
Holiday and Etta James — but she
cites rock as a big influence, too. The New York City musician is currently working on a new solo album.

Who: Nate & Kate with Abigail Payne
When: 9 p.m. today
Where: Cyber Café West, 176 Main St., Binghamton
Admission: $5
More information:;;
- Press & Sun Bulletin

"Hear It: Nate & Kate"

Hear It: Nate and Kate

Up on stage Nate and Kate’s most profound energy
is an incredible sweetness-not all hearts and
flowers, but more like a dead bird tied to a red
helium balloon. The soulfulness of Kate’s
cello, the driving folkish rhythm of Nate’s guitar,
and the beautiful harmonies that the two weave
together when they sing make you want to smile
and dance and cry for joy all at once.

In the past two years, Nate and Kate have played
gigs all over the US, at coffee houses, weddings,
art openings and clubs. “The place where we were
the most well-received was in Madison, Wisconsin,”
says Kate. We had one gig there, which fell
through, so we just walked around to any café that
was a good space, and we ended up with more gigs
than we could do in our few days there.”

Nate and Kate live in a sunny apartment in Fall
Creek, a neighborhood on Ithaca’s north side
filled with houses from before the turn of the
century decked out with Buddhist prayer flags and
colorful outdoor gardens. I go to talk with them
one morning, and up at the top of the stairs in a
small kitchen, Kate is working on French toast with
baked apples and scrambled eggs with cream cheese.
Nate pours me a mug of coffee, hands me his guitar
and sits down at the piano, his voice going back and
forth between a gentle, Nick Drake singer-songwriter
vibe and a mature, Tom Waits-ish soulfulness. I
remember an earlier conversation with him, about
neither of us really using our degrees for much.
“I think mostly what college did was give me time
to learn to play guitar and juggle, which is how
I make my living now,” he says. Nate’s songs have
the same sense of randomness as his career
path-the song TTYL talks about the strangeness
of a relationship over instant messaging,
complete with sound effects. His other works talk
about childhood memories of video games, road
tripping, and about the sense of celebration at
the end of the day, no matter how it was spent.

Kate talks about studying music and the kind of
burnt-out feeling that often accompanies trying to
study music professionally. “I’ve been lugging
that thing around for fifteen years, like a big
turtle,” she says, motioning to her cello in its
hardshell. “I had a teacher, this little Haitian
guy, who gave me a piece to play that I never
would’ve had under the Suzuki method. He said
‘It’s okay, you know how to play, just go for it,’
Suddenly it was fun again, it saved me.” Nate goes
on, “I think people burn out largely because of the
sensationalism of art. It’s like you’re going to
have this explosive, ejaculatory moment, and you’ll
never forget it. In reality, I play the piano and
the guitar hours every day, I juggle every day,
and we don’t make any money doing it, but that’s
the only consciousness I have, disappearing and
coming back. There’s as much truth in the music as
there is in family members, it’s around you as much.
You feel upset, you need to talk to someone, and
your guitar can do it. For all different emotions,
you can take care of it with music.” People walk a
line between shooting for success and having a
good time along the way. “We were aiming for
excellence right from the beginning” says Nate
with a sly smile and a laugh. “Success, excellence,

“Goals,” adds Kate, and the two of them look up
from their plates at each other and crack up. Nate
and Kate offer some of the most original, heartfelt
songs around, and live, the most goofily
bittersweet energy you can handle. Check them out
September 20th at Binghamton’s Cyber Café West,
November 24th at ABC Café in Ithaca or on Myspace

-Steve Rokitka, Buzz Magazine
- Buzz Magazine

"Musical Medicine"

"Musical Medicine"

Local folk duo Nate & Kate takes some time off the road to talk
about their upcoming show at ABC Cafe

by Warren Greenwood

"Concentrate on truth and beauty and forget the rest." - Tony Bennett

I was battling depression when I first saw Nate & Kate. I had heard a psychologist
on NPR talking about how there was a pandemic of clinical depression in 19th century
Europe. (They called it "melancholia" in those days.) She speculated that it was related
to the disappearance of traditional agrarian festivals in Europe during that period.

So in an heroic effort to feel better, I decided to go to the spring Ithaca
Festival. Wandering aimlessly on the Commons, I came upon a marvelous folk duo -
a young woman playing a cello and singing, a young man playing guitar and
harmonica, singing and...juggling...yes, juggling. And, at some point, I realized I was
listening to the Ithaca folk duo ("Central New York's Folk Superheroes") Nate & Kate.

Way cool. I had read about Nate & Kate and wanted to see them. They were
as good as advertised. Melancholy lifted. And this Sat, Dec 8th, you can see them at
the ABC Cafe in Ithaca.

I called Nate for an interview, only to discover that Nate & Kate were on the
road. And Nate & Kate graciously took time out from touring to answer some questions:

Ithaca Times: So, do you enjoy traveling? Or are you writing one of those songs that
complains about life on the road?

Nate: That's funny because we introduce one of our staple songs "Nostalgia Blues" as
being about "the glory of living high out of a station wagon." But it's actually more
of a complaint, the the title suggests. I love being on the road. I feel subtracted from
space and time more than usual. It's pleasant.

Kate: I don't mind too much, but I am more of a homebody. During our first long tour,
we actually left our apartments and stored our stuff at our parents' because we were
out for 3 months. It's a bit unsettling (litterally), but now it feels great to come home
to our cozy little Fall Creek apartment.

IT: When we last spoke, you told me you planned to marry. It makes me think of Richard
& Mimi Farina, or a young Bob Dylan & Joan Baez. Can you tell us how you met and
fell in love?

K: Yes. We met in Binghamton. I was working at a cafe there, and had some girlfriends
who were in nursing school and had an extra room in their house. When Nate moved
in, I asked my friends who the new kid was, and they told me they thought he was
kind of weird because he always stayed in his room playing music really loud. (And I
don't mean the stereo, I mean creating it.) So I knocked and introduced myself, which
he doesn't remember. We met again later at a bar.

N: All true. As far as romance on the road... it gets a bit crowded in the backseat of
an Impreza with a cello, guitar, ukuleles and tambourines bouncing about - but we
manage. - Ithaca Times

"Fame by Frame - CD Review"

Nate & Kate – Fame By Frame
2007 Nate & Kate Music

When you first look at a CD you never quite know what you’re going to get. The packaging can be extremely misleading at times. Nate & Kate’s Fame By Frame is housed in a cover modeled on “American Gothic”, and is only a hint at what is inside.

In the vein of another once-Ithaca, NY-based duo, Once Blue, Nate and Kate take a sometimes tired musical form and breathe magic and life into it. Americana/folk has never sounded so good. Nate (Nate Marshall) is a dynamic singer-songwriter with unusual lyrical ability and a perfectly imperfect voice. The ever eponymous “Kate” brings the mellow, sometimes dancing sound of her cello and her lush voice to enhance the sonic landscape of Nate & Kate.

The highlights here are many, but “Faith, Hope & Love” may be one of the most moving songs you’ve ever heard. Songs such as “Like Dandelion Seeds To The Wind”, “The Dark Side Of The World”, “Pissin’ Into The Wind”, “Freight Train Play That Chord”, and “When Our Day Is Done” will have you hitting repeat time and time again. Many albums lead with the strongest material and peter out from there. Fame By Frame keeps getting stronger song by song.

This is an absolute keeper; a desert island disc. Nate Marshall’s songwriting rivals that of Jesse Harris of the aforementioned Once Blue. (Jesse Harris won a Grammy for “I Don’t Know Why”, recorded by Norah Jones). Kate is the perfect counter and harmonic balance (although it would be a treat to hear a little more of her on lead vocal once in a while).

I can’t recommend this strongly enough.

Rating: Buy It Now - Wildy's World


Debut Full-length Album:

"Fame by Frame," released June 2007.



Nate was born on the hottest day of the year in a burnt-out farmhouse with no hot water in Wingdale, upstate-NY. He grew up chasing chickens, building tree forts, and playing shortstop. He made rollerblading videos and snowboarded in the winter. At 16 he learned to sing and play guitar with the local church choir. Nate played with friends in several high school rock bands, and began writing songs and traveled the country by station wagon at 18. He released his first album of all-original material, “Generation Why?,” early the following year. He juggles 7 balls with good control and currently teaches and performs part-time as a juggler. Nate has now written over a hundred original songs, and he released 2 1/2 solo albums before “Nate & Kate.”

Kate was raised in central NY singing and playing cello from the age of four. She has performed in numerous orchestras, string ensembles, and choirs. She has performed in some of Italy’s most magnificent cathedrals as well as New York’s Avery Fischer Hall with the Hamilton College Choir. Kate was lead singer for two rock bands before joining forces with Nate.

Nate & Kate met and began playing together in Binghamton, NY in 2005, and self-booked a 3-month tour of the Eastern-US that Fall (’05). They have continued touring, promoting, and writing, and released their debut album, “Fame by Frame” early summer 2007. Nate & Kate are continually performing the East Coast and New England, and are developing new material for a follow-up record.