On Saturday night Nathan Kalish and the Lastcallers whisk into Grand Rapids on a greased rail looking all the while like svelte short track speed skaters. OK, it’s more likely the twangy twosome shows up wearing football helmets and double runner skates. Either way, dagnabbit, these boys kick up a rooster tail spray of musical ice chunks on the hard stop and turn.
The last time Kalish and company were on this end of town it was a Thursday night at Elk. They went on to play an unprecedented six more times in the area--including two gigs in one day—at the Intersection and Salt of the Earth in Fennvile, among others. But that’s the kind of crazy schedule it’s been for Kalish in 2014.
Nathan Kalish and the Lastcallers are set to let the yuletide ring with a memorable holiday show December 20 at Elk Brewing in Grand Rapids.
“We’ve been all playing over the country all year, pretty much any place that will have us,” Kalish said. “We played upstate New York at the B-Side Ballroom in Oneonta a couple of months ago. Then we played the Taste of the Catskills festival. They let us go on the big stage second to last and gave us food tickets for all the local vendors.”
Their most recent travels have landed them in Nashville. TMGR caught up with Kalish as he was going over to the studio to put finishing touches on a new project.
"Me and Eric Soules (dog house bass) made a record of the songs we've been playing on the road all year," Kalish said. "We had our buddy Robbie Saunders from Texas put guitar on it. Next we're adding pedal steel and other instruments.”
Kalish says he’s enlisting help from the Nashville music community, utilizing the many connections he’s made over the past two years.
“Next we're doing overdubs from other people we know from around the country,” Kalish said of the recording process. “It's turning out pretty good too.”
Kalish is excited to feature the talents of producer Gordon Hammond. Hammond is considered the go-to guy for his recent work with Willie Nelson and Don Williams.
“Gordon is about our age,” Kalish said. “He’s worked on some very cool stuff.”
Kalish says together they are trying to capture the essence of the stripped down, minimalist early Sun records days
“It’s country and roots music,” Kalish said of the new material. “We’re striving for the sound of the Tennessee Two.”
The historic sound of early Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two never featured a drummer. Kalish is steadfast in following that inspiration to the letter.
“We don’t do drums ever,” Kalish said. “The no-drum thing doesn’t affect the band at all.”
Kalish says he and Soules provide more than enough rhythm, particularly on the rocking numbers when they employ what has become known as the "freight train" sound.
“Drums don’t make it more fun or upbeat,” Kailsh said. “In fact it detracts from the fun because they’re so loud and distracts from the rhythm sometimes.
“We’re a rock-n-roll band,” Kalish points out. “You can play faster, tighter grooves with no drummer. That’s what makes it fun.”
Nathan Kalish and the Lastcallers, 8-11pm, December 20 at Elk Brewing.