In such a divided world it’s rare to find a band as universally loved as The Nth Power. A soul-funk trio centered around rock steady drummer Nikki Glaspie, stellar bassist Nate Edgar, and soulful lead vocalist and shredding guitarist Nick Cassarino, the band can easily fill a stage with friends for one of their much-anticipated Tribute sets.
Few, if any, bands are as capable of not only playing the material at hand but managing the daunting tasks of adding six to 16 additional players, finding opportunities for each to shine, and, of course, making it fun as effortlessly as The Nth Power. Indeed, those who’ve been lucky enough to see the group pay tribute to the likes of Bob Marley and Steely Dan, or deliver its legendary and soon to return Earth, Wind & Fire shows are well aware that they are truly transformative instances of outright love of the source material meeting elaborate guest lineups.
Our own Rex-A-Vision caught up with The Nth Power on its current tour, as the band returns to the road for its first serious run of dates since COVID made performing a practical impossibility. Check out a few more clips from the Suwannee Rising Nth Power Ball set at the end of this article for a few new clips. (Note: Conversation has been edited for length and clarity.)
When asked to elaborate on how the wild and far-reaching Nth Power Ball tribute set that closed out the 2022 Suwannee Rising and paid homage to The Spirit Of The Suwannee Music Park itself originated and came to fruition, the band was most forthcoming:
“I thought it was a great idea because the Park itself is one of our spiritual homes,” Nikki Glaspie confessed. “It seemed like the idea of a very ‘family’ session rang true. Paul [Levine, festival partner & promoter] was just like, ‘Here’s a list of everyone who’ll be here…do what you do.'”
Bassist Nate Edgar continued, “Yeah man, once we knew who was gonna be there and we saw how many ways it could be great we were like, ‘Let’s do this!’ Other than a few of our own choice picks we created the setlist around those who were gonna be there and around the style that Suwannee Rising presents, which is a lil’ more of the ’60s and ’70s kinda vibe. I, myself, wanted to get back to some of the origins of that music…the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead.”
Glaspie agreed, saying, “The idea was to play in the spirit of the stuff, even if some of the music was a lil’ unfamiliar. I mean, I knew the Aretha Franklin stuff and I had attempted to play ‘Terrapin Station’ before, but some of it was pretty new to me. It was fun, I had a blast just playing that music. Just digging into the soul.”
Nick Cassarino took on some of the more daunting leads with a fearless attitude that befits a musician of his caliber. Moreover, the ethos displayed a willingness to place himself in musically dangerous situations as he happily recounted taking the lead on tracks like the seminal Grateful Dead classic “Terrapin Station”:
“I was not familiar with that record,” Cassarino gamely admitted, “And it’s funny. You study the song structure on the record as much as you can, then you get into the lyrics and that’s when I was really like ‘Wow! What’s going on here?’ So, you play along with the record as much as you can and then you have this moment of truth and you just play the song by yourself.”
“I gotta say, after a few days of learning it I was playing it by myself and I got to those last notes and I was shivering I was so blown away,” he continued. “I was completely sober and I had goosebumps all over my body…it’s like I was high. I never saw the Dead, I’ve never seen Jerry [Garcia]…I just didn’t grow up with it. But somehow I felt something…and it felt really important. We only rehearsed the song once, like, 30 minutes before the show. ”
Check out The Nth Power’s amazing take on “Terrapin Station” as well as hits from an eclectic mix of other Spirit of the Suwannee mainstays.
As they return to the road full time together we wondered if there were any lessons the band learned over the hiatus about life that might inform them and their actions in the future. Glaspie was quick to chime in:
“Early shows are awesome!” She exclaimed. “I’m all about that early train now. I’m definitely like ‘Eight O’Clock show? Perfect! Eight hours of sleep doesn’t hurt but y’know what’s even better? Ten Hours!’ Oh, and I picked this up from touring with Mike Dillon…bring an espresso machine, a good one, and some tasty French Roast. Oh…and in general…just not as much. Say with alcohol…just cut your consumption in half. It helps with everything…especially the after-the-show stuff like [the car ride], packing the van up…all of that stuff.”
Nate jumped in to add “That’s all the work stuff. The driving, the loading. We’re kinda like a trucker, guitar maintenance, and road crew built into one. It’s all in service to the fun part…playing the gig.”
After their first few years as a quintet that heavily featured the organ, they pared down to a three-piece. When asked if they were considering bringing in someone new to tickle the ivories Glaspie had this observation:
“Musically, we’re enjoying the space playing as a trio. Honestly, when we do bring someone in we like it to be someone like our friend Jennifer Hartswick. We will always look to bring in guests when it makes sense though.”
Finally, we touched on the upcoming revisiting of their “Earth Wind & Power” tribute show that’s looming on their upcoming schedule on May 6th at the Republic in New Orleans. Legend of the first iteration of the band’s epic tribute to Earth, Wind & Fire live on as a legendary event in fan lore, a feeling that Nikki Glaspie shared:
“The vibe during and after that show are what you want to feel after a set. We’ve got some of the OG’s from that first show, and some new folks coming in to really make it special. Not that we don’t try our hardest to make every show the best. That should be every band’s goal…to make every show they play the best show the audience ever saw.”
That’s as fine a goal ask you can ask any band to aim to accomplish. See below for a list of upcoming Nth Power tour dates so you can see for yourself what a power trio born out of love striving to do their best can pull off with a lil hard work, a lot of love, and the perfect pre-show espresso:
The Nth Power 2022 Tour Dates
April 28 – Albany, NY – Lark Hall
April 29 – Bridgeport, CT – Park City Music Hall
April 30 – Burlington, VT – Foam Brewers
May 1 – Atlanta, GA – SweetWater 420 Festival
May 6 – New Orleans, LA – Republic NOLA “Earth Wind & Power”
May 8 – Miami Beach, FL – GroundUp Music Festival
May 9 – New Orleans, LA – Blue Nile
June 3 – Oak Hill, WV – Mountain Music Festival
June 23 – Rothbury, MI – Electric Forest
June 30-July 3 – Scranton, PA – The Peach Music Festival
Before you check out those shows, here are a few more of the aforementioned exclusive clips from that chilly Suwannee Rising Festival closing set including tunes from The Beatles, Steely Dan, and more.
The Nth Power Ball – “Hey Jude” (The Beatles) > “Reeling In The Years” (Steely Dan) – 4/9/22
The Nth Power Ball – “Spanish Moon” (Little Feat) – 4/9/22