Nathan Cavaleri Plays at The Playhouse

Interview by Joshua Eckersley

He Believes in Miracles

Most Australians remember Nathan Cavaleri as a young blues-guitar prodigy who, after overcoming leukaemia, became a global phenomenon, performing with huge stars like Mark Knopfler and B.B. King. Those that continued to follow Nathan’s career, know his story did not end there.

In recent years he has battled, and overcome, serious mental health issues to find a rejuvenated source of inspiration that has kickstarted a brand-new phase in his career.

Now, with his new album Miracles, and a massive national tour to support the release, Nathan Cavaleri is set to show us all how to find those miracles in our everyday lives via the medium of music.

Released in June, Miracles is a stunning musical achievement, highlighting Nathan’s ability to weave lyrical stories around blistering guitar grooves and heady instrumentation. Each track brings a new vibe that keeps the energy flowing throughout, displaying Nathan’s deftness at mixing different musical genres with blues fundamentals, something he did masterfully on previous album, Demons.

The sound and style, according to Nathan, aligned with the feelings he wanted to inspire and express, especially after having spent such a long time away from music.

“Both Miracles and Demons have come after five years of mental and physical health challenges that took me away from music,” Nathan reveals. “I didn’t intend to return to music at all because I didn’t have any trust in my psychological and physical capacity to tour, and to deal with it all.

“But the songwriting always continued.”

During his hiatus, Nathan’s creative process shifted.

He no longer had industry pressures bearing down on him, which had a very positive effect on his approach to songwriting.

“I no longer wrote for any purpose other than self-expression,” he says. “That’s how I used to create music as a kid. Somewhere in the middle there, I got a little lost; it became more about how to write songs for the radio.

“I lost that initial connection with myself, but I managed to get it back,” Nathan continues. “When I created these songs, the same theme occurred; of having to back my own creative decisions and not let the voices of others, or the voices of the past, steer me off-course.

“I can hear that when I listen to the album. There are a few songs where I think, ‘Woah! I totally bulldozed any insecure voices when I did that song!’ That unbridled feeling is what we bring to the stage as well.”

Speaking of “we”, when Nathan performs at The Playhouse in the Canberra Theatre Centre, we will be bringing a night of energised and exciting musical exploration with his somewhat unconventional band.

“I wanted to create something a little different,” Nathan explains, on the unique live line-up. “I have a guitarist named James Van Cooper. We also have a sampler, and my Swiss army knife (that is, he’s an accomplished multi-instrumentalist), Tommy Gun, who plays percussion, guitar, and trumpet.

“We all sing together as well. That might sound a bit stripped back but it’s absolutely not. It rocks hard!”

Included in that rocking set will be the first single from the album, Querencia; a feel-good summer-y tune that echoes the classic rock stylings of Dire Straits and The Go Betweens.

Photo by Smak! Studio Photography

The title, Nathan explains, is a Spanish word that originates from bullfighting and describes the area where the bull seeks refuge and gains strength.

“In human terms, it represents a place that you can go within yourself, despite whatever chaos is happening,” Nathan extrapolates. “It is an inner source of strength, peace; a refuge that is not hinged to things having to be a certain way.

“I found that to be a very liberating concept.”

A concept that leads to a liberation on stage, with punters able to expect an entertaining night of thumping blues-rock tunes and riveting tales from Nathan and the band.

“I play a good portion of the songs off Demons and Miracles, and I string them all together with stories from my past,” he excitedly tells us. “From playing with all of these amazing people, to some of the philosophies I’ve learnt going through cancer as a kid, to my mental health struggles later on.

“We have a whole heap of laughs as well!” he’s quick to add. “As much as we go to some deep places, we bang pretty hard on stage. It’s a great show and I really enjoy playing it.”

Nathan Cavaleri and his band will be performing at The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre on Friday, 1 September. Tickets are $45 – $55 + bf and are available from Canberra Ticketing.

Listen to Miracles on Spotify and Apple Music

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