They’ve played SXSW, Farm Aid, and Coachella. They rocked the Monterey Pop Festival’s 50th Anniversary, played the late night talk shows, and made their Grand Ole Opry debut.
Now Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats are shoe-bootin’ their way to your town.
The Hermann, Missouri-born Rateliff’s been through quite a lot in his 39 years—from singing in his church band to losing his father to working dead-end factory jobs, fighting off alcoholism, and embracing rock stardom. So the burly, barrel-chested Rateliff decided to channel all those feelings (along with the emotional fallout of his broken marriage) into his second full-length album, the fittingly-titled Tearing at the Seams.
Now based out of Denver, The Night Sweats includes Rateliff’s longtime bassist pal (and band cofounder) Joseph Pope III, lead guitarist Luke Mossman, drummer Patrick Meese, and keyboardist / organist Mark Shusterman.
But wait, hold yer horses! Like other great R&B acts, The Night Sweats also boasts a horn section in the personages of Scott Frock (trumpet), Jeff Dazey (alto sax), and Andreas Wild (tenor sax). Together, the gritty roots-rock-cum-brass brigade gives the geetar-totin’ Rateliff all the backup he might possibly need to bring the Tearing tunes to life on stage.
And that’s precisely what The Night Sweats did last night (June 3) at Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica in Cleveland, Ohio.
Here are five reasons why you should check out Nathaniel Rateliff when the bearded bard comes to your town this summer.
1. The Night Sweats are an outstanding live act.
It won’t be long before Rateliff & The Night Sweats find themselves lumped in with other legendary multi-member jam acts like J. Geils Group, The Allman Brothers, and Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band. In fact, we just did it now—specifically because the guys’ guitar and horn-powered performances and quixotic musical elixir draw from similar sources. This band can channel Leonard Cohen’s melancholy guitar musings, Robert Johnson’s country blues, John Mellencamp’s heartland rock, Mavis Staples’ gospel glory, and the bright, blustery horns heard on Stax / Motown / Chess Records of the ‘50s and ‘60s.
2. Nathaniel & The Night Sweats are hell-bent on having fun with their audiences.
Rateliff was so excited to take the stage last night in Cleveland that he fell flat on his rear end moments after checking in with Pope and Mossman (to his left). Rolling back to his feet, Rateliff recovered quickly—then spread his arms wide to welcome fans to his private little festival with “Shoe Boot,” “Be There,” “Lookit Here,” and “I Did It.”
Yeah, Nathaniel’s a big guy with rolled up sleeves, a lumberjack beard, and sundry tattoos decorating his arms. But it’s more likely this well-reared fellow would come to your aid on a deserted highway than accost you in an alley. He’s a deep-thinking, sentimental softie with a gift for turning phrases (and guitar progressions) into memorable songs that sound as if they were meant to be sung loudly by hundreds—if not thousands—of people at once. Just check out the band’s recent Live at Red Rocks on iTunes or Amazon for a taste of the magic.
4. It’s a guitar party!
If you like Lynyrd Skynyrd, .38 Special, Govt. Mule, or Tedeschi-Trucks Band, you’d do well to catch these guitar-wielding wildcats. Over the course of the Cleveland show we witnessed Stratocasters, Telecasters, and an assortment of acoustic six-strings, all manhandled for maximum effect. Speaking of guitarists, Rateliff’s voice sounds a bit like Eric Clapton’s, circa late ‘70s / early ‘80s. He’s got a low, soulful rasp…but he can hit some Van Morrison highs, too.
5. They’re touring with The Head & The Heart.
Seattle indie (Sub Pop) darlings turned major-label (Warner Bros.) superstars The Head & The Heart opened for Rateliff and company with an eighty-minute set that pulled from their eponymous 2011 debut, 2013’s Let’s Be Still, and 2016’s Signs of Light. Haven’t heard of ‘em? Your kids surely have…and you’ve probably come across their solid, respectful cover of Crowded House gem “Don’t Dream It’s Over” on the radio. Fronted by Guild guitar-slinger / vocalist Jonathan Russell, multi-instrumentalist Matty Gervais (guitar, drums, tambourine), and singer / violist Charity Rose Thielen, The Head & The Heart (or THATH for short) are an introspective, folky project whose “Sounds Like Hallelujah” hit-makers are comfortable letting their hippie sides come out to play. Bassist Chris Zasche (in a retro Disney World tee), drummer Tyler Williams, and pianist Kenny Hensley contributed to the shimmery, outdoorsy sounds on ”Ghosts,” “All We Ever Knew,” “Oh My Dear,” “Lost My Mind,” and the new “Backwards Breathing.” And the group was happy to let fans pitch in on vocals for “Rivers and Roads,” an entry typically sung by Josiah Johnson, who is currently on hiatus.
So check out this marvelous team-up. It's a boot-scootin', romper-rockin' good time.