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Saint James and the Whiskey Fires, bringing the fire to NYC

Saint James and the Whiskey Fires is a band that New Yorkers should keep their eyes out for. Based out of Lower Manhattan, the band is looking to broaden their audience and make new friends. Check out Saint James and the Whiskey Fires the next time they have a show in New York.Photo Credit: Trailsnap courtesy of Saint James and the Whiskey Fires
Saint James and the Whiskey Fires is a band that New Yorkers should keep their eyes out for. Based out of Lower Manhattan, the band is looking to broaden their audience and make new friends. Check out Saint James and the Whiskey Fires the next time they have a show in New York.Photo Credit: Trailsnap courtesy of Saint James and the Whiskey Fires

by Aja Landolfi, junior co-editor in chief

New York City’s music scene just got a little more diverse with the addition of a local band based out of Lower Manhattan. Saint James and the Whiskey Fires is a band that plays a mix of country, folk, and pop, with a little bit of rock.

Saint James and the Whiskey Fires is made up of Nathan Kastner (singer/songwriter/guitarist), Bryan Dobbs (banjo player), Lizzie Harless (violin/fiddle), Tanner Peterson (vocals), Nick Brennock (guitar), Dan Hemerlein (bass), and Andrew Campbell (drums).

This band started two years ago when Kastner decided that he needed a platform for his songwriting and was tired of playing his acoustic guitar by himself. He not only started the band with a group of like-minded people, he also came up with the band’s name and there is an interesting backstory to it.

“I was actually having drinks with an ex-girlfriend of mine at a bar called “St. Charles’ Cellar” in Brooklyn (hence the “saint” part) and we were sitting at a table drinking whiskey. There was a candle sitting on the table and jokingly she asked, “what would happen if I poured whiskey over this candle?” to which I replied, “I guess you’d have a whiskey fire!” We both laughed and agreed that it was a pretty cool name for a band,” Kastner said.

Kastner continued his story by saying…

“The “James” part is because my middle name is James (i had been going by Nathan James prior to this) and because the original Saint James (one of the 12 biblical apostles) was the first apostle to be martyred for his faith. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of martyrdom: sacrificing yourself for a cause you believe to be greater than yourself.

I also liked the idea of juxtaposing the idea of a martyred saint with the self-destruction implied by the term “whiskey fire.” Overall, I guess the name was just a perfect storm,” Kastner continued.

Like most striving bands, Saint James and the Whiskey Fires face the same struggles that many musicians in New York City face. Having to manage their own schedules, book their own shows, and trying to get rehearsal space to practice are only some of the struggles striving musicians go through. They also face the task of trying to get people to care about their music. With the judgement that goes on in the world today, this seemingly simple task can be very daunting.

“My biggest struggle is definitely judgement. It’s hard not to both judge myself and let the opinions of others make me second guess myself. It’s one of those things that’s easier to achieve in theory than in practice,” Harless said.

As well as being in a band, some members also have to worry about keeping up with their school work. Kastner, Dobbs, and Harless all currently attend school at NYU. Kastner is pursuing a double major in Recorded Music and Political Science. Harless is pursuing a major in theater, and Dobbs is pursuing a major in Neuroscience with a minor in music, which ties into what he is most proud of.

“I went to school with the same 80 people my entire life, never really been to a party bigger than 20 people, had a lot of social hurdles, and had never lived anywhere other than North Carolina. Then I just said “f**k it” and came to NYU … Knowing no one… entirely unprepared and ill equipped… and somehow I actually ended up doing pretty well for myself,” Dobbs said.

Being located in New York City, the biggest venue they have played at is the Studio at Webster Hall. Some of the songs that the band likes to perform are “Whiskey Fire”, “Annie Close Your Eyes”, and “San Francisco”.

Collectively, in the future the band hopes to still be together and doing something they love, which is playing music. For now, go and check them out the next time they play a live show in New York.

“Saint James and the Whiskey Fires’ shows are a guaranteed good time, or your money back! Except not really that last part, we don’t’ have very much money…but you should still come! We really need friends,” Kastner said.

For anyone who doesn’t know who Saint James and the Whiskey Fires are, go and check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and listen to their music on Soundcloud.

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