Tuesday, November 21, 2006

RIP Nate

Nate Wiley passed away.

Nate Wiley was part of the collective root of South Street — mostly at Bob & Barbara’s in the last 20+ years. As Nate and The Crowd Pleasers, Nate, Frank (later Howard) and Cliff created the perfect audio backdrop to a night in Philly. I had some great conversations with Nate about the old times on South Street and considered him a friend - he remembered me every time I saw him (in and out of B&Bs). He passed away this past Sunday evening. He was 83.

I first met Nate when he started playing B&B's back in '83. The joint was still a jazz spot, drawing mostly a local black neighborhood crowd - I was living at 13/Pine at the time and my neighbors were two older jazz freaks, so one night I went along. I met Nate when he was with another band ... name escapes me ... and then he started his own band which has been there ever since. Nate Wiley & The Crowd Pleasers! Never did a band live up to their name as much as those dudes.

I remember having a deep conversation with Barbara Carter (who owned the spot with friend Bob Port until the mid-90s) and she just loved Nate ... his personality, his ability to move with the crowd and just feel people out. She introduced me to him and we began a good friendship. I was impressed that he never knew what his next song was going to be and one night he and I talked about that method and he gave me some great tips on feeling various vibes from the crowd; I use those tips to this day when on the air or behind the controls at Sex Dwarf and I've kept Nate in my mind ever since.

At a time when I had few father figures in my life, Nate Wiley was an elder that I respected almost as much as he respected me.

I'll miss you Nate - I hope you get to finally play with the stars and lead that heavenly bandstand.


Thankfully, Jim McGorman just wrapped on his documentary short about Nate and the boys called A TASTE OF NATE ... he's hosting a quicktime version on his site:



Anonymous said...

Nate was indeed an institution. He will be missed.

Kliffee said...

What a bummer! I just passed the mural across the street from B&Bs with nate on it a couple weeks ago and pointed him out to my lead singer of my band. Truly a sad day in Philadelphia.