Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Philadelphia JAZZ LEGEND Nate Wiley has passed away 

Ron Swegman changed my night (& my LIFE!) recently with the news that Nate Wiley died a week ago. So many beautiful experiences I've shared with friends over the years listening to Nate Wiley & the Crowd Pleasers down on South Street at Bob & Barbara's Lounge. So many nights and so many shows that I have absolutely no idea how many, but I know I've seen them perform live more than any other band.

My old boyfriend Angel introduced me to their music many years ago. I was 19, and very much in Love with the music already, making out with Angel in the dark corners. It sounds corny, but the music opened the gates of Heaven for me back then, especially when I was with Angel. God it does sound corny, but it's true. I remember seeing them with Gil Ott and Lamont Steptoe one night after a reading at The Bacchanal, and I'm pretty sure that Amiri Barraka was also with us. Pegalina sang a song with them once which WAS SO GOOD, even Nate was impressed, and it took a lot to impress Nate. But then Pegalina wanted to read a poem from her book The Nude Testament and half the room booed, which sent her into a fit, shouting profanity into the microphone, which was then taken from her and she was told to sit down and shut up. My old boyfriend Barry threw up in the bathroom after too much whiskey but loved the music so much he refused to go home and just slumped back down in his chair and hummed along. Frank Sherlock and Jaime Earnest one FANTASTIC night after a poetry reading recently, (actually, it was a fantastic night until Frank realized later that some SCUMBAG pick-pocket had somehow managed to nab his wallet) and Nate agreed to play "SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES" by my request. NO ONE has ever (NOT that I've ever heard) played that song with quite the same MAGIC! For me it's Howard Candy's organ that makes the song SWING UP THE COSMIC ROPE! Been there numerous times with Matt and Nicole, with Ron Swegman, with Magdalena Zurawski, with Jen Hess, with Elizabeth Kirwin, with so many friends and so many visiting poets and others. So many MANY times hearing them that their music is stitched into my DNA! Once I went there with my old boyfriend Earth and a few of the drag queens from our building (the same building where Chris McCreary also lived -- The Imperial Hotel). Earth danced drunk with one of the drag queens who went by the name Baked Lasagna. He stood on her shoes and they bobbed around laughing, flashing their tits at the band, who shook their heads and laughed. That was a night I'll always remember, despite the alcohol and other substances we couldn't stop sucking down. Both Earth and the glittering, gorgeous Baked Lasagna are also now dead.

My hope is that Howard Candy and Cliff LaMarr don't call it quits, but we would all understand if they do. Nate's smoky sax sounds are irreplaceable. I miss the sound already, very sad.

We owe these men SO MUCH! It was never enough, no matter how much money you put in their bowl on the organ. And it always pissed me off how little people actually put in the bowl.

Has anyone heard of a memorial service of some kind? --CAConrad

Cliff LaMarr (drums), Nate Wiley (sax), Howard Candy (Hammond Organ)

A few online links for NATE WILEY & THE CROWD PLEASERS:

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