Episode 34: Master of the Universe with Nat Keefe

Taraleigh and Leah chat with guitarist, producer, and master of beats Nat Keefe. Nat shares all the ways he is bringing live music to the people including being an original member of Hot Buttered Rum, his new electronic project BeatMower, intimate acoustic gigs strengthened by the pandemic, and as a producer of other creators’ music. In addition, Nat talks about his travels documenting West African dances for the Awudome tribe in Ghana and collaborating and recording with Zambian and Rwandan musicians in early 2020 which he mixes for his Beatmower sets. Nat discusses how the social context plays a role in the live music experience and how all of these creative pursuits keep him firing on all cylinders. The three also discuss similarities in music and dance across cultures and what we can learn from traditional communities like the Awudome. Not to be missed is Nat’s take on what makes a “hot show” and how everyone’s participation is a part of that. For the “Did you Know,” Leah shares her thoughts and passion for live music participation for all involved, including fans, and Taraleigh offers an opportunity to notice what happens when you bring yourself fully to the experience in the “Daily Jam.”

You can access the Awudome traditional dances that Nat discusses in the interview here: https://youtu.be/kAA_3t4xSdE

Nat Keefe is known for bringing both joy and solace to the many thousands of people in his audience. In 1999 he co-founded the bluegrass band Hot Buttered Rum with Erik Yates, a friend he’d met three years prior when they were sophomores in college. Over the last twenty years they’ve lit up some of the best festival stages in the world, including Telluride Bluegrass, Newport Folk, Bonnaroo, Strawberry, Hardly Strictly, and High Sierra, though Nat will admit a personal highlight was performing the National Anthem before a SF Giants playoff game. To the delight of their fans, Hot Buttered Rum continues to write, record, and tour. Their latest album, “Something Beautiful,” was released in April of 2020.

In February 2020 Nat traveled with Hot Buttered Rum to Rwanda and Zambia. Nat’s community rallied behind him and raised $7000 for a new recording studio rig. He recorded several musicians in both countries, and these sounds comprise much of Nat’s DJ dance music project, BeatMower. A BeatMower set is a mix of original sounds recorded in California, Rwanda, Zambia & Ghana, mixer- and laptop-controlled samples and loops, and vinyl turntable tracks, along with occasional musical guests who weave their own collaborative improvisations. Some like to call this original and provocative upbeat dance mix “Afrograss.”

In addition, Nat has produced two-dozen records for other artists, including Kyle Ledson, Fruition, The She’s, and many others. For Nat, producing – helping people refine and create their vision – is equally as important as performing. 

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