Derived from original portrait by Mark Sasahara
Nate Orshan, is a performing songwriter from Burlington, Vermont (USA), where he's been
living for over two decades. (He moved to Chittenden County in '80, just in time to see
Church St. get paved and Bernie Sanders squeak into the Mayor's office.) Prior to that,
the Manhattan-born Nato had moved around quite a bit with his family, spending eight years
in Israel, three in Los Angeles, nearly two in Brooklyn, and brief stints in New Mexico
He thinks that having been raised in diverse environments left him with a taste for
cultural variety. It seems reflected in the variety of his songs on his first CD,
of Fans, released in 1999. From
the distorted bounce of "From the Noise through the organic waltz of
"Putting Peace to an End" to the rollicking zouk of "Bom-Bom," Nato
treats each song like a child with its own unique needs.
Despite the diversity of his songs, Nato calls his style "semiretro pop/rock,"
meaning it's faithful to the rock tradition of the past 30 years. With their aggressive
delivery and contagious phrases, riffs, and melodies, his songs work their way into the
head and stay there for a long time.
When playing solo, Nato accompanies himself with acoustic guitar, but he also plays bass,
keyboards, and percussion. His musical education pulls from many traditions.
His formal keyboard training includes three years in
the '80s studying with Charles Eller (of Unknown Blues Band / Kilimanjaro fame).
His understanding of music was served by two
years' formal music theory at the University of Vermont followed by a semester of
His knowledge of Western art music, folk/orally
transmitted music, world music, jazz, and the avant-garde were fed by a couple-year stint
in the latter '80s DJing at college radio station WRUV-FM.
His performance skills have been honed in several
Vermont ensembles, including The Lawyers, The Cuts, The Switch (auxiliary member),
The Dave Keller Blues Band, Mark
Twang ("pinch Twanger"), and samba
percussion band Sambatucada.
As a solo artist, Nato has played at such Vermont venues as
The Vermont Coffeehouse, Cactus Café, Café No No, Club Toast, Café Olé, Manhattan
Pizza, the Burlington Music Conferences ('97, '98), and
First Night Burlington ('97, '00, and '01).
Soap and Ammonia
In late 1996, Nato released his first album on cassette, Soap and Ammonia.
This eight-song tape featured Nato both in
the studio and before a live audience, performing his songs with acoustic guitar.
blessed with a raw, limber, full-throated voice not unlike that of Marshall Crenshaw...Soap
and Ammonia is filled with melodic hooks that pay no heed to trendiness, and conveys
the singer's appealing stage personality."
Pamela Polston, Seven Days
"Most of the
songs resemble a bargain-basement Elvis Costello or Joe Jackson 'unplugged.' The guitar
playing is never too tricky, at times reminiscent of Ani Difranco-style strumming...A good
vocal performance pushes the tape along."
Steve Lemcke, Burlington Free Press
I'm here...to remind you..."
Meanwhile, Jim Lockridge of Big Heavy World liked
Nato's outgoing voice mail message so much - a parody of Alanis Morissette's now-famous
"You Oughta Know" - that he included it in BHW's '97 alt-rock compilation Sonic
Tonic as a secret track. Amazingly, the parody garnered some praise:
final wisps fade away and the CD takes a few more spins, there's a Natoism--an answering
machine recording of Nato giving Alanis something to strive for."
Aimée Petrin, Vox
up Sonic Tonic, if only to hear the Alanis rip-off. Classic."
Meghan Sheehan, Northeast Performer
1997 saw Nato return to the studio to complete his first CD, Roomful of Fans, released on Mighty Winooski Music.
Recorded at Matt McCarthy's Wonderful Wife Recording Room, the
album was a tour de force for which Nato wrote,
arranged, and produced all the songs, played every instrument
(with the addition of some tasty electric guitarwork from Matt), and executed
all the layout and design for the CD and 16-page insert.
"One of the most
amazing and interesting albums to come out of the Queen City in a long
time...The production is near perfection."
Chris Parizo, Good Citizen
"A pleasant record chock-full of meticulously crafted songs...As the focus here is definitely on the songs, it's nice to know that Nato can deliver the
Colin Clary, Vermont Times