High-energy R and R

Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band at Jimmie’s

By Mike Ritchie

Photo: [l-r] Nato Coles, Sam Beer, Kyle Sando, Mike Cranberry and Luke De Beaumarchais [not pictured] will perform on June 15 at Jimmie’s Ladder 11


From his humble beginnings in Milwaukee to stints in Brooklyn, New York and Minneapolis, Nato Coles has paved his own road, whether playing fast punk with Modern Machines or the more current sounds of Radio Faces and The Used Kids. Cole has been regarded and reviewed as a true standout in a world of fast paced, rapid-churned, turned-out music lacking that personal touch and the hard work behind it. His sound could be compared to Neil Young meets Bruce Springsteen with an punk-rockabilly energy. Coles continues runnin’ down his dream, traveling the roads to Dayton June 15, and he’s taking the Blue Diamond Band, Mike Cranberry (drums), Kyle Sando (bass), Sam Beer (guitar) and Luke De Beaumarchais (piano and organ) along for the ride.

As a growing musician, Coles was in a handful of different bands from different areas, each releasing original material. Though Modern Machines was a different approach, Radio Faces and The Used Kids were much closer to his current work.

“When I lived in Milwaukee, I played in the Modern Machines, more of a louder faster punk rock band,” Coles explains. “After that, I moved to Brooklyn and was in two bands, Radio Faces and The Used Kids. Those were pretty close to what I’d been trying to do. When I moved to Minneapolis, I said to myself, ‘I’m going to double down on the kind of music, more rock and roll but still with one foot or at least big toe in punk that I’ve always wanted to focus on.”

Among other major contributors, Coles credits his parents’ record collection as a big influence on his music.

“My dad took me to see Tom Petty when I was 11, and it’s the point around which my life pivots, or changes forever and set me down this path,” Coles recalls. “They had a ton of Beatles, Stones, ’60s R&B records, even a Velvet Underground LP and the first MC5 album. His favorite band ever is the Byrds. I love them. The Flying Burrito Brothers and Gram Parsons stuff too. After the Byrds and Burritos, though, my dad and I diverge a little. I like more electric guitar in my soup.”

Of his eclectic tastes, two major sounds made him pick up a guitar: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and American rock band Hüsker Dü.

“Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers … seeing them made me want to play guitar and write songs and play them for people,” Coles explains. “Then, the band Hüsker Dü showed me that you could play these poppy rock and roll songs, but play them in this faster, breakneck, all-out manner. Anyway, those two filter everything.”

While to some listeners his music may reflect a working-man theme, he tries to get through to people of all classes and social groups and appreciates a strong work ethic whether on stage or on the job.

“Somehow we get through to all kinds of people,” Coles quips. “I don’t sing too much about politics and issues—you need too many syllables. But I’d like to think that when I do, the angle I approach it from—and this is definitely on purpose—is a populist one, both personally and economically. I identify extremely strongly with anyone who wants to put in their fair effort at the job and come home with a paycheck that allows them to have some fun.”

Regarding how the 2013 record Promises to Deliver compares to previous work, Coles says he prefers to let the fans do the talking.

“You should ask the fans that one,” he says. “I’m too close to it! I’ll say this: It’s my favorite album I’ve ever made. And not to split hairs, but with the possible exception of that Radio Faces LP, it’s my favorite album I’ve ever played on. Mike, Sam and Kyle were perfect partners to work with on this. I wish Luke, our keyboard player, could’ve joined the band in time for it!”

When it comes to crazy, insane road stories, there may be tales of hardcore danger, decadence and debauchery, but for this story, Coles recalls a night of impulsive “sanity improving” back-roads behavior.

“Well, there was that time we were driving and Mike pulled off the freeway at a no-name exit for no reason. Drove us down a dirt farm road, and we all got out and ran through a pre-harvest cornfield throwing corncobs at each other, climbed up a big agricultural storage tank, then drove along a railroad service track to an underpass and had some beers while blasting music from the van, then climbed up onto the interstate when we realized that half of it was under construction. [We] partied up there for a while, watching the cars go by… We’re not too old to enjoy silly things like that to break up a long drive, ya know? Then again, I don’t think that’s a crazy story. I think that’s a story about staying sane.”

No pitchfork-wielding farmers, children of the corn, demonic cows, pigs or UFOs were reported that night.

Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band will perform Monday, June 15 at Jimmie’s Ladder 11, 936 Brown St. in Dayton. Show starts at 9 p.m. For more information, please visit natocolesandthebluediamondband.blogspot.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Ritchie at MikeRitchie@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Mike Ritchie
Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Ritchie at MikeRitchie@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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