(Photos by Tom Chamberlain)
Nathan Baumgartner is funny.
He is not a comedian.
He is the singer for my favorite band in Portland, And And And.
His songs feature witty, wry humor amidst dark, honest, revealing lyrics. This mixture crosses over into his performances on “Who’s the Ross?” In a little over a year, Nathan has been our musical guest a half dozen times, each performance backed by THEM! THE BAND! is fascinating not only for how different the songs can sound from his records, but most recognizably for how unrecognizable Nate becomes in these performances.
Nathan is my Andy Kaufman.
It is not typical for a musician to morph so uniquely into a variety of characters during their performances. I figure that type of skill is reserved for musical theater actors. Nathan brings an odd, hilarious, eccentric sensibility to his characters, but most astounding is the heart each character possesses, as they bares his name, and I believe, are an extension of the man himself.
Most enjoyable, as the host, is Nathan’s phenomenal improvisations skills. Each time we hit stage together, there is no script, and I can never predict where things are going to go. Characters vary in their high/low status, and Nathan always gives as much as he takes. It is a true pleasure to go head to head with such a committed performer. In fact, I’m rather jealous of how wild he gets to be, as I play the role of straight man…but David Letterman had the district pleasure of giving the world Andy Kaufman’s most unique performances, seemingly an equal mastermind in the process. With Nate, I feel I have even less a safety than Dave had, but an infinite level of trust.
This Tuesday, Dec 29 at Dante’s is our “Best of 2015 Spectacular” and with Nate as our guest, I have no idea what kind of character he will play, or what he will do. I would have it no other way!
Now, enjoy all of Nathan’s appearances on WTR, in order from real Nate, to the return of “bad ass” “Losing Team” Nate…