Despite never having had a commercial hit in their 23 years, The Nadas have independently cultivated a career by relying on solid song writing, memorable lyrics, outstanding musicianship and a fiercely loyal fan base. The Nadas, Iowa’s signature alt-rock-country band, fronted by founding members Mike Butterworth (vocals, guitar) and Jason Walsmith (vocals, guitar) who have deftly handled co-lead and co-writing roles since forming in 1993, are superbly backed by Neil Stoffregen (keys), Brandon Stone (percussion) and Brian Duffey (horns and bass).
The Nadas released ICYMI (In Case You Missed It), a greatest “hits” album featuring 20 fan favorites and one new track, via Authentic Records on March 4, 2016. “When we first started, we didn’t really have a goal. After we did it for a while we started realizing that maybe we were on to something” said Walsmith. The Nadas are still on to something as they release their 13th studio album.
Rather than simply releasing an album of original versions in greatest hits packaging, the band opted to re-record and re-work the songs as they have evolved and are currently performed. Several of the songs on ICYMI do not regularly make the set list and were “new” for Stoffregen, Stone and Duffey, who all joined the band within the last four years. “As a fan turned band member, it’s an honor to be able to play on a greatest hits album” said Duffey. The choice to re-record was born out of a desire to leverage the addition of new musicians and necessity. Recently on Iowa Public Radio’s Live from Studio One, Walsmith acknowledged that on some of the early songs “…I still had my junior high choir boy voice. It hadn’t been beat up and soaked in whiskey and driven thousands of miles. We just wanted to do new versions of those old songs.”
And on ICYMI, that is exactly what you get. Re-worked songs rooted in the originals penned by Butterworth and Walsmith. They seamlessly weave covers into their originals and bring a live feel to a studio performance. Stone adds steady and nuanced percussion, while Duffey is able to reimagine the originals with the addition of trumpet and flugelhorn. And then there is Stoffregen and his veritable bag of tricks adding Hammond organ, piano, electric piano, mandolin, melodica, electric guitar, slide guitar and banjo-tar on the album. For any listener, old or new, this album is a treat. Featuring classics like “Dancing Lucinda”, “River”, “Templeton Rye” and “Cry” alongside deeper cuts like “Life in a Bucket” and “Rock Star” and even a cover of Jackopierce’s “Vineyard”, which has become a staple at live shows.
All 21 tracks on ICYMI have been re-recorded, reimagined and reinvigorated. For a band that is pushing towards their silver anniversary they have perspective and in the liner notes of ICYMI, dedicate the album to their family, friends, fans, former bandmates, crew, staff, agents, publicists, managers and volunteers and thank those who have allowed them to make and play music for over 20 years. This is the kind of humble hat-tip you expect from a veteran band, who also don’t take themselves too seriously, poking a little fun at themselves by stating that they “…threw in one new song so you know we are still making new music.” That new song, “Born Bad” is the first new music since 2013’s Lovejoy Revival.
What’s next? The Nadas will play their usual summer festivals and regional shows and toss in a few house concerts a bit further from home. “As long as there are people who want to listen, we’ll keep making music” said Butterworth. ICYMI is a gift to the fans and a chance to reach those who may have missed it, the first time around.