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natefloyd.jpg (9162 bytes) "Giving folks sound they know, From Beatles to Pink Floyd"

by Ken Robison
The Fresno Bee, Friday, February 18, 1994

As a songwriter, Nate Butler pens original pop songs. As a performer, however, he's a copycat.

In this stage of his musical career, Butler can be found playing songs by John Lennon-Paul McCartney or Pink Floyd's Roger Waters rather than his own works.

Tonight, he and several band-mates will re-create Pink Floyd's "The Wall" at Club Fred. It's the second step in a series that started with a Beatles cover act a year ago.
"We're different from a normal cover band, where people say 'Let's do this song and do it our way,'" said Butler this week as his band prepared for its first Pink Floyd night. "We try to sound just like the record."

The first Beatles covers show occurred a year ago around Valentine's Day, when bassist Butler and his pals performed the entire "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" without a guitarist. (Tom Magill provided guitar sounds from his keyboard.)

Their second show, they asked for a guitarist from the audience and ex-Clam Jim Carter took the stage. "You're in the band now," said Butler to Carter, who knew all of the Beatles' songs and guitar licks.

Butler, Carter, Magill and drummer Stan Shaffer have performed as The Beetles about 10 times at Club Fred and the Wild Blue, usually playing selections from the entire Beatles catalog. They broke up after a New Year's gig, but have since reunited.

For "The Wall," Butler has assembled a supporting cast of Magill on keyboards, Donnie Marvin on drums, Jeff Fetters and Tito (no last name) on guitars.

"It's a tough piece," said Butler. "The album is really one big work. We're still working on it. It has a lot of sound effects.

"We don't intend to talk with the audience. We're trying for a re-creation of the record. We'll do each side of the album as a set, with breaks in between."

Butler understands that serious musicians dismiss "cover" bands, but he also recognizes the value of giving music fans a friendly sound.

"The only people who [dismiss us] are musicians," he said. "This is what the people want to hear. I think we'll have a good crowd. People want to hear what they know.

"That's the hard truth about writing original music. People who play original music in this town have a lot of [courage]."
Butler, a 1983 graduate of Fresno High School, has been in a few bands in the past several years, including Tales of Young Robert, Strip Twister, and Pop Shoppe. The latter, a campy send-up of 1970s hard rock, gave him the idea to re-create the Beatles.

Still, Butler yearns for a vehicle for his own songs. "Tom [Magill] and I are going to form a band. He's also a good writer, and we're collaborating -- sort of Lennon-McCartney style."

He described his music as "quirky pop, like the Beatles did.

"We want it to be accessible, but not be like anything else in the top 40. That's the trick, giving the people something they will like, but not like anything they've heard before -- making it fresh and still keep the familiarity.

"I've learned from experience: People love what they know. I make more money and get a bigger response [from the Beatles show] than from doing my own gig. But I'm ready to try again."
The above artwork was created by Nate Butler for the slide show that accompanied "Nate Butler & Friends Present Pink Floyd: THE WALL"; to see more, click here.
Read a MetroNews review of the debut "WALL" show by clicking here.

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