The first artist I heard when I moved to the Outer Banks was Natalie Wolfe. She was performing on a Friday night at a venue that shall remain nameless. I had checked out the online menu and knew it was a bit out of my price range, so I kind of slinked in door and tried to inconspicuously hang out at the end of the bar.
At that point, not knowing the “mindset” of the musical scene on the OBX and knowing that I would need to find work…it was up to me to scope out the “competition”. (I have since realized this is not Los Angeles, with thousands of players vying for limited numbers of paying gigs).
There she was, playing and singing what I figured to be an original song. Lovely voice. Solid guitar technique and very pretty. “If she’s indicative of the level of talent here, I’m in trouble,” was my first thought.
I stayed for a few songs and walked out with my tail between my legs. I have heard her play a few times since then. In various situations and venues. She’s consistent…and good. That’s important for folks that do what we do. Putting ourselves out there, trying to connect with listeners while, at times, baring our souls. So, it goes.
Natalie was kind enough to answer a few questions for me:
Q: If you’re not a native, what brought you to the Outer Banks?
A: My grandmother lived in Kitty Hawk, so I have been coming here as a child. But I moved here to work one summer during college and decided to stay.
Q: How would you describe your music?
A: Folk, rock, lyric-driven…
Q: Who is your greatest musical influence?
A: My mom always had Carole King and Paul Simon music playing around the house.
Q: What is it about music that touched you?
A: Probably the song-writing aspect.
Q: What was the first concert you attended?
A: Lollapolooza 2004.
Q: Did it inspire you to perform?
Q: Are you self-taught?
Q: Besides guitar what other instruments do you play?
A: Some piano.
Q: How many different musical projects (duos, trios, bands) are you involved in?
A: None, right now.
Q: What's your favorite venue to play on the Outer Banks?
A: During the summer, I enjoy anything indoors. I like the acoustics outside at Village Table and Tavern in Duck, though.
Q: Do you listen to new music and if so, what are you listening to?
A: Yes, Nathaniel Rateliff, Lake Street Dive, and some Kasey Musgraves.
Q: The music business can be tough. Did you ever consider quitting?
A: Since I don't do it full time, no.
Q: What do you do in the off-season? Do you have a day job and if so, what is it?
A: I am a real estate agent at Village Realty and a bartender at Tortuga's Lie.
Q: Your job is real estate. During the “season” do you have times where you find it hard to juggle your job with playing?
A: Yes, I also bartend at Tortugas, so I usually have something going on every day, and it gets hectic.
Q: How does that work?
A: Careful scheduling!
Q: McCartney or Lennon?
A: I don't have a preference.
Q: Where were you the first time you performed onstage and how old were you?
A: I think I was 5 or six years old singing "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” on the steps of the old Lonz Winery in Middle Bass Island, Ohio.
Q: When you write a song, is it positive or negative inspiration that drives you?
A: It can be both.
Q: What inspired you to write your own songs?
A: When I first started to play the guitar, I knew no chords — and this was before everyone had handheld access to the Internet. So I started to play around with different sounds, and ended up writing my own music before I learned to play anyone else’s.
Q: What inspired you to want to perform them live?
A: I guess I have always had a personality that enjoyed the stage. I did plays and musicals in school, so it seemed natural. I don't think I ever thought, when learning the guitar, that this was something I would keep to myself.
Q: At gig, do you perform originals, primarily?
A: I really only have about a dozen that are complete, so not enough to fill a three-hour set.
Q: How do you decide which cover songs you play at gigs?
A: That is a good question. I used to make set lists prior to shows, but now I play a few different ones and gauge the crowd reaction, then try to steer the set around a specific style or genre, based on what the crowd is into.
Q: As someone who only performs covers, unless I’m asked to play an original, I’m curious as to how yours are received by new listeners?
A: I tend to play them when people ask, as well. I think, overall, they are received well.
Q: Do you have a favorite guitar?
A: I really love my Taylor, but I love the look of the electric hollow-bodied Gibson.
Q: Do you have any hobbies that aren’t music-related?
A: Reading, writing, crosswords, and golf.
Q: Your favorite album?
A: Paul Simon, Rhythm of the Saints. It is has a beautiful flow to it.
Q: Your favorite song?
A: This changes constantly, Bonnie Raitt's version of “Since I Fell For You,” and Wang Chung's “Dance Hall Days.”