EXCLUSIVE: Nathan Bell Premieres Powerful New Video for "Names"

Posted on March 25, 2014 | by Mark Segal Kemp

Few singer-songwriters are willing to tell the unvarnished truth in stories about real people that resonate for real people. Tennessee-based Nathan Bell is one of them. He isn’t in it for the money or the fame. He’s in it to play fingerstyle acoustic guitar to songs about people who work hard to pay the bills and provide for their families. He's also in it to sing about social and political issues that matter to him.

"Names” is a song that combines all of those passions, and Acoustic Guitar is proud today to be premiering its video, directed by filmmaker Anthony Sims (The Day After Stonewall Died). "Names" comes from Bell’s latest album Blood Like A River, which AG’s Pat Moran reviewed in the March issue. 

Moran writes: “Bell’s rustic voice, which couples the grain of the Band’s Levon Helm with the gruff troubadour’s lilt of Kris Kristofferson, lays bare lives on the hardscrabble margin: The perpetual motion of a jittery Everyman in ‘Turn Out the Lights,’ young service men and women reduced to a handful of names in ‘Names,’ the ordinary heroism of choosing to love in ‘Really Truly,’ and Bell’s own encounter with a desperate gunman in the autobiographical ‘Trigger.’ … [He] documents an America teetering on the edge. Yet he leavens this view with wonder, gratitude, and compassion.”

For the album, Bell does his fingerstyle playing on a Larrivée OM-3, but also plays a 1967 Gibson LG-0 (seen in the video), and, particularly for this song, a Lanikai 8-string baritone uke. "I used the Gibson for the video because, frankly, it looked the coolest," Bell says. (Hey, we agree.)

In the early 1990s, after releasing two progressive bluegrass albums for Flying Fish Records with his then-wife Susan Shore as Bell & Shore (El Ranko Motel and Little Movies), Bell walked away from the music business because he didn’t much like the "business" part. He got a straight job, started a family, then got the music itch again. He began putting out records on his own, beginning with 2007’s In Tune, On Time, Not Dead, and hitting his stride with the terrific Black Crow Blue, in 2011, on Stone Barn Records, the indie label of guitarist Craig Bickhardt. With six independent albums under his belt now, Bell has proved himself fully capable of successfully working outside of the “business” part of music.

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