If I’m being completely honest, I have no clue why Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats aren’t a bigger deal. My wife and I absolutely love them and anyone who has ever seen them live walks away thoroughly impressed. Hell, even my five-year-old really enjoys belting out their tunes when we’re in the car.
But for whatever reason, they haven’t quite risen to the level I feel like they should be at. Don’t get me wrong, they definitely have a passionate and supportive fanbase and have begun consistently playing larger venues over the last year, but seriously, the rest of the music loving world needs to get on board with these guys.
If you’re not familiar with Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, then take a minute to watch their music video for “S.O.B.” If that doesn’t win you over, I don’t know what will. Their throwback sound is a welcome respite from so much of the generic pop nonsense that fills the airwaves these days.
When I heard Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats were playing Farm Aid this year, that’s when I knew I needed to clear the calendar on September 17th. When I was contacted by Brightest Young Things to actually work Farm Aid as a credential photographer … well … that was just icing on the cake.
So I get to Jiffy Lube Live and make my way over to the media tent and immediately am drawn to a sign-up sheet on a clipboard. Any media requesting to interview any musician simply needed to fill out the form and they would do their best to accommodate. There was zero chance I was going to pass up the opportunity to talk to Mr. Rateliff, so I put down my information and crossed my fingers.
A short while later, I received a call on my cell phone while I was down in the photo pit. The wonderful person running the media circus for Farm Aid informed me I would be interviewing Nathaniel at 5:15 p.m., which was in a little more than an hour.
It took everything I had in me to keep my composure and, in sports terms, “act like I’d been there before.” But I kept it together and at 5 o’clock, I met up with my media escort who took me backstage to go meet one of my favorite artists alive today.
We walked a series of 18 wheelers and tour buses, through the buffet area for the artists and their roadies and there we were — standing outside the doorway of the green room for Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats.
Here’s the best part: right as the media escort was getting ready to knock on the door, the bands’ manager came flying in from the other direction and entered the room in a hurry. We weren’t really sure what was going on, so we held tight for a second to see what all of the commotion was about.
And then Nathaniel Rateliff walked out the door. And kept walking. And then he was gone. But we were still standing there.
After a few seconds, the bands’ manager walked over to us and said, “Willie Nelson just asked Nathaniel to come hang out with him, so we’re going to have to do this interview another time.”
Sadly, I never did get to interview Nathaniel Ratliff. I didn’t even get to talk to the Night Sweats. But what I did get a pretty good story about that time Nathaniel Rateliff chose to hang out with Willie Nelson over me at Farm Aid 31. And that’s a pretty solid consolation prize, if I do say so myself.
If you missed their set, here are a few videos of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats performing at Farm Aid 31. Enjoy them before Willie Nelson takes them away from you.