Nathan Wade & The Dark Pioneers
Gig Seeker Pro

Nathan Wade & The Dark Pioneers

Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE

Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE
Band Americana Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos




Deeply traditional in both tone and spirit, [Nathan] Wade's recently released CD, 'The Dead Leaves Sing', was inspired by the songwriter's love of historian/chronicler Alan Lomax and his field recordings, particularly the Southern Journey compilation. Wade translates the Country Blues sensibility of the those old recordings, filtered through his own perspective, but he also gives them an extra layer of genuineness and intimacy by recording them out "in the field," at various spots around Bainbridge Island (an old schoolhouse, a lodge in the woods, a room overlooking the coastal shoreline). The results are hauntingly soulful and moving, just like those old Lomax recordings that stirred him initially.

Dig It: Murder ballads, Nick Cave, "Post-Apocalypse Americana."
- Mike Breen, CityBeat - Cincinnati


Seattle musician Nathan Wade has dubbed his brand of roots-based music “post-apocalypse Americana.” While this is a cool-sounding descriptor, I’m not entirely certain what it means. What I am sure of, however, is that Wade does not exactly tread at the lighthearted end of the song spectrum. With a debut release called ‘The Dead Leaves Sing,’ chock full of songs given such carefree titles as “The Reaper’s [Son],” “Suicidal Revival,” and “Dry Up Like a Dream,” there is little doubt that Wade’s music could properly be described as dark. And not just dark, but profoundly, poetically, biblically dark.

Wade cites the formidable field recordings of legendary folklorist and musicologist Alan Lomax as a particular musical influence, but the fact that he spent his formative years in a tiny Indiana town leads one to believe he comes by his love of Americana more honestly than most. He sings blues-tinged, gospel-informed folk songs about killers, loners, addicts and other various and sundry lost and forgotten souls with a conviction that suggests Wade has a fascination with the fringe that goes far beyond lyrics on a page. He can also belt out a murder ballad with the kind of melancholy swagger that is more than a little reminiscent of another of his influences, Nick Cave.

Despite all the gothic depression, death, sin and redemption, Wade’s music is surprisingly accessible—some songs could even be considered catchy. In the words of a critic who reviewed The Dead Leaves Sing: “There are enough dark pleasures here to entice and cajole a sheckle from even the deepest dungaree pocket.” Now, I do not have even the barest idea of what a “sheckle” might be, but you shouldn’t let my ignorance deter you from discovering Wade’s post-apocalyptic world for yourself.

-Carey Ross, Music Editor - Carey Ross, Cascadia Weekly (Bellingham, WA)


On his excellent debut CD The Dead Leaves Sing, Seattle's Nathan Wade explores the dark and gritty side of roots and Americana, drawing resourcefully on blues and gospel to find its shape.

Wade is a fierce and dynamic blues guitar player, which is thoroughly demonstrated, but his songwriting never lets that one component define the CD. There's a brief progression and melody that occur in The Final Blow that has more of an early pop sensibility, not to mention the child-like "deedle-eedle-dee" vocable of Seen the Glory. The song Suicidal Revival deserves special mention; an intimate, lyrically deft and shaded folk number, with perhaps a flash of early Dylan influence (a la Don't Think Twice), is a definite goosebump effort.

In addition to Nick Cave, the lyrics bare the influence of more gospel-inspired blues, evident in titles like Seen the Glory and The Reaper's Son, with the song Long Black Lilies reminiscent of Blind Willie Johnson, both lyrically and in its mood and delivery - another of the CD's achievements.

Nathan Wade is a strong and engaging singer, and varies his vocal treatments throughout the disc, continually showing he has one more layer to reveal. The performances, both vocally as well the guitar playing, were so strong I became curious as to how they were recorded, and wasn't surprised that most of it was done live as opposed to overdubbing - but yet it still has the feel of strong record-making; the subtle background vocals on Season for the Crows, or fiddle and mandolin seasoned here and there, along with acoustic bass and drums.

Describing his own music as Post-Apocalypse Americana, which seems apt, Nathan Wade realizes his vision, right down to the album artwork, in an authentic and convincing fashion. - Kevin Zarnett, The Muse's Muse


The press release labels this “Post Apocalypse Americana” and, to be fair to them, it’s a fair description. Given that those once lonesome pathways and trails dissecting the American underbelly seem to be as populated these days as the M25, with anyone donning a murder ballad or plaid shirt labeled ‘country noir,’ Wade has cut out the middle man and set himself for the worst case scenario. Given the nature of the songs - addition, murder, redemption, even a visit from Lucifer’s spawn - this is pretty listenable stuff. The endless list of characters are all painted with a fine detailed brush, the tales of woe and despair are prime (if slightly un-nerving) fireside entertainment and the overall mood edgy to say the least. A fine guitarist, a sort of damaged Chris Smither or slightly less angular Chris Whitley, Wade sings with no certain amount of soulful swagger that, if I am honest, sits a little uneasy on these ears. Still don’t let me put you off. If you like your Americana hard boiled, blues drenched and served with grits on the side then there are enough dark pleasures here to entice and cajole a sheckle from even the deepest dungaree pocket. Hell, grow a beard, start digging that shelter and really let yourself go. - Del Day, Americana UK


As with so many of our local blues artists, Nathan Wade defies categorization. Is it blues? Is it folk? How about it's just darn fine music? Nathan sings and plays acoustic and resonator guitars. He is accompanied by fiddle and/or mandolin on several tracks [of The Dead Leaves Sing] as well as acoustic bass and drums on about half of the eleven tracks. The CD was recorded on Bainbridge Island, direct to 8-track digital, with no overdubs.

I find Nathan to be a talented singer, an accomplished guitarist, and an extraordinary songwriter. I particularly enjoyed the delta bluesy sound of "Sweat Through." I would also like to remind Washington Blues Society members that Nathan was very well-received when he played the acoustic set at our January Blues Bash at Highway 99--we do our best to feature solid acoustic and electric sets at each Bash, and his set was memorable. Remember his name and look for him; catch a show. You'll be glad you did! - Malcolm Kennedy, Washington Blues Society


With dirty blues and slimy slide guitar, Nathan Wade sings amongst the scrap-heaps and detritus of the American dream...the Four Horsemen thunder in the wake of songs like “Cold Cold Hands” and “Sweat Through.”

More brutal at times even than Nick Cave, but as concerned with apocalypses both personal and global, it seems appropriate that he borrows and darkens the “Ghost Riders In The Sky” sound for “Skoal Bandits,” where he translates Frank and Jesse James into twenty-first century convenience store thieves...the song “Long Black Lilies” is an impressive blast of genuine gothic. Things finish up with the siren wailing guitar of “Dead Leaves” and Wade howling “I’m going over.” Not too soon hopefully. - Jeremy Searle, Americana UK


Like Nick Cave, Nathan Wade seems to have spent a lot of time reading the Book of Revelation (and a healthy dose of Cormac McCarthy) and then retooling those gothic, apocalyptic themes into musical form. Doom, dread, death, and destruction figure prominently in The Chroma Session EP but—-like Cave—-Wade finds beauty in the darkest corners. In fact, it’s highly doubtful that another songwriter could’ve written an ode to convenience-store robbers like “Skoal Bandits” and had it come across so timeless and gripping. In the wrong hands, this kind of visceral country-noir easily falls into gimmicky territory; with Wade and his Dark Pioneers, it sends shivers down your spine in the best possible way. - Barbara Mitchell, The Stranger Weekly


The Dead Leaves Sing - 2006 (Crow King Records)
The Chroma Session EP - 2008 (Crow King Records)
The Gospel Of Rust - coming in 2009 (Crow King Records)



Nathan Wade & The Dark Pioneers are Seattle's purveyors of apocalyptic Americana, hitching the rusted scraps of American roots music to a battered pick-up truck and dragging it across a broken 21st Century landscape. It's a cinematic trip down a desolate highway as the dashboard rattles apart and the truck radio blasts songs of murder, drug abuse, and Biblical arcana.

When it came time to roll the odometer back to zero, Nathan Wade lit a fire to his solo career with new band mates and bad influences Brian Alter (drums) and Sam Collins (acoustic bass & keys). After a little prompting from his musical brethren, Wade plugged in an electric guitar for the first time in years and his songs immediately strayed from the acoustic folk sound of his past and took a turn for the heavy. Christening themselves the Dark Pioneers, the new trio came roaring out of the blaze they'd just started and set out on a treacherous new stretch of road.

'The Chroma Session EP' captures some of the band's grittier, blues-lightning in a bottle with help from guest Pioneers Lincoln Barr (Red Jacket Mine) on electric guitar and Michael Spaly (Creeping Time, The Harborrats) on violin. Produced, recorded, and mixed at Seattle's Chroma Sound Studio by Bradley Zeffren (North Twin, Jeff Fielder, Kristen Ward), the band radically reinvents the acoustic recordings of Wade's debut, 'The Dead Leaves Sing,' while firing off a double-barreled shot of new music. Serving as a taste of what's to come, 'The Chroma Session EP' stands as a bullet-riddled mile marker on the road to musical armageddon, a future the band is driving into at high speed; in the rear-view mirror, a blood-red sun settles in the dust they've left behind.

Recommended if you like: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Chris Whitley, 'Night Of The Hunter', gasoline fumes, Cormac McCarthy novels, 'Led Zeppelin III', dark alleys, the Book of Revelation.