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Preview: Nathan Coles and Friends @The Cornerstone Saturday December 21st

For years, local musician Nate Coles has been putting an annual event together at the Cornerstone. This year’s show, which he refers to as “the annual”, taking place on Saturday, December 21st, is a special one for Coles.

“Well, the 21st is offering up 8 separate acts that have never shared a bill,” Coles says.  “And it’s the 18th Annual.”

You’ve all seen Nate perform in various venues in town throughout the year, but some may not be aware that he also teaches music at JamSchool.

“The music will begin at 6pm with Devon Brock who is a student of mine,” he says, “and like others on this bill, she is someone who should have more opportunities to perform in town. ‘So here’s one,’ I thought, so here she is!”

The bill is a blend of people Coles has taught, and acts he has seen around town. He’s also bringing out others that he has worked with over the years.

“Scott Deneau played a large role in my formative years as someone to aspire to as a singer/songwriter and performer. He hasn’t been playing live like he used to and is feeling the bug to do it more these days.” Coles adds, “He’s a true champion when it comes to pulling song from the ether.”

Waterloo’s Anthony Damiao, who describes himself as a folk singer, banjo slayer, punk rocker, rock ‘n’ roll agitator, is the driving force behind The Name Droppers. Has often performed at Nate’s annual, and this year is no exception. 

“He’s often performed at this event and others as a member of whatever kind of band I might assemble to make it happen.” Coles describes, “So this year he’s here to do his thing.”

Always an eclectic performer, Coles always finds ways to bring new sounds to the stage. This year, he’s put a collection of musicians together to join him in improvising on some of the many songs he has written. He’s calling it A Trio Esque. Joining Coles will be Colin Couch on tuba, Fiona Stewart on violin, Jeff Wilson on percussion, and Dan Drysdale on guitar. 

“I can’t wait to see where this act can go,” Coles adds. 

A new local band featuring Emily Gleeson, Luke Ellis and Adrian Stickland, Swoon will also be on the bill. 

“They’re a new band fronted by my friend Emily Gleeson,” Coles says. “I’ve seen them perform one of their (maybe) two gigs and thought “they should be on this bill too”. So here they be!” 

A multi-instrumentalist, Coles leapt at the chance to put another band together, where he wasn’t at the front. 

“Sounder is a band that I knit together when one of my students Phil Ter Haar expressed a hope in being in a band through the Jam School band program,” he says. “Which got me to thinking. I have a friend Aaron Zuccala and a brother Andy Coles who were looking to be in a band and thought this is a fine pairing. Adding myself on drums and presto… Sounder was born.” This will be Sounder’s first billed show. 

“This brings us to Bird City,” Coles is effusive. “It’s a project fronted by the all powerful Jenny Mitchell who has been nothing shy of a Giant in the Guelph music scene. And on this night she will be accompanied by Scott Haynes who is another person who has performed at this annual Extravaganza as a member (many times) of whatever kind of band I assemble each year.”

Bird City is Mitchell’s latest project, playing sparse, personal songs on the banjo and tenor guitar.

“Bird City is my comfort in knowing that there can be millions of similar things,” she says, “and a single one in any given moment can still strike you as the most unique and beautiful thing in the world.”

The final act has special meaning too Coles. It’s a reunion of the Nathan Coles Outfit. 

“The Nathan Coles Outfit hasn’t performed together in 12 something years. This is something I am overjoyed to have happen.” 

The Nathan Coles Outfit consists of Chris Hierlihy on bass, Jordan Howard on guitar, and Vish Khanna on drums. 

“This was the driving force when planning this year’s annual,” he adds.

All in all, it’s an outstanding bill, with a great variety of styles and instrumentation. Coles says it best when he describes it as “A night I feel certain in saying “Shall be a time to be havin’!”

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