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:


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Have A Banana

It began in 1970 as Le Banane Noir at 534 South 4th Street in Philadelphia, and in the late 70s it moved to 3rd & Race Streets and became a private club for members only. The club thrived through the 80s being on the cutting edge of fashion and music: styles came and went and the Black Banana rolled with the punches. It was known as the most decadent place in Philly. Many of today's artists, designers and musicians have done their time at "The B"!

Founder and friend Garrick Melmeck passed away back in 1991, months after the Black Banana suffered a devastating fire. The staff worked day and night demolishing and rebuilding the club. All the while, loyal patrons held vigils out on the sidewalks. But once it reopened, the writing was on the wall - in 1998 the Black Banana played its last record and flashed its last strobe. The building now houses Wexler Fine Arts Gallery.

My friend Natasha created an incredible 3-D tribute site to the time, music, people and party that was The Black Banana. Take a moment and visit the site - and spread the word. Spread the love for one of Philly's institutions back in the day!
Click To Visit The Black Banana Experience!