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He's a little bit country
Nate Pearce did the Nashville thing, the old struggling-country musician gig.
He lived in the lower Broadway section of the city, worked with shady producers who made promises and left with his money — $30,000 or more. He was signed, then dropped, from Sony Records before he could even get out an album. He looked around and realized there were 500 new people coming in every day who wanted to be just like him.
And that was is.
He came back to Fresno.
“If I'm going to starve, I'm going to starve at home,” says Pearce, whose band plays straight-up country classics with names like “Tequila Sheila” and “Drunk I Am.” This is boots and big-hat sing-along good time music, the kind that put him in the just-about-made-it camp. He's been on eight — count them — world tours and opened for the likes of Daryl Worley, The Bellamy Brothers, The Dixie Chicks, Billy Ray Cyrus and Brad Paisley. He's ranked No. 2 on Reverbnation's local county chart and 999 (and moving up) on the national charts. He'll be out on a USO tour early next year. It'll be his second. He did a tour of the Middle East in 2005.
Pearce started singing in the second grade at the urging of a teacher. He joined his first band — a heavy metal group called Arctic Wolf — when he was 17.
He started singing country music almost by accident in a bar in Orgeon. They were doing some new fangled thing called karaoke and Pearce sang along to Garth Brooks and at the end of the night, someone dropped $800 on the table and said he'd won.
“I didn't even know it was a contest,” he says.
By the next day he had joined his first country western band. He doesn't remember playing one gig with them, but he practiced a lot. And he got good.
He started playing around Fresno in the 1990s in a band called Riff Raff. It was a good time for local country guys. You could play (and get paid) four nights a week. There were five clubs running in old town Clovis and you could see a local bands at each one.
Now, Jim's Place is a Mexican restaurants and you'll be lucky to find three solid country bands playing period. There's still an audience for country music, he says, at least for the big guys playing at the Save Mart Center. But the rest of it is underground.
Of course, he's inspired by the underground, guys like Deke Dickerson, Hank III and the even the Melvins. He plays country, but he's a fan of music, everything from the Fresno High School Band, to the Eagles, Dr. Hook and the BeeGees ("those guys are still great").
Most people work 100 hours a week and then go play. Pearce gets to play 100 hours a week, and hopefully not work, he says. Of course he's been down that road, knows it's not easy or always fun. So he's going to continue to make good music, have some more shows and give people a place to go and forget about their week.
After all, isn't that what music is all about?
"It's like cocaine without the side effects," he says.
The Nate Pearce band plays at Audie's Olympic Nov. 6.