Gotta hear the Nields

September 04, 1997|By Tamara Ikenberg | Tamara Ikenberg,SUN STAFF

You can be two tiny degrees away from Kevin Bacon. mm jj nnn mm ilk Just see the Nields in concert. mm lk klk ilk The Northampton, Mass.-based Nields first played with Kevin Bacon's band, the Bacon Brothers, at the Bottom Line in New York last year. Since then, the two bands have played more dates together, established a friendship, and the Nields can boast a one-degree association.

"I tingle all over every day when I think about it," says Nerissa Nields, vocalist and guitarist for the band. "If you come to the show, you can be connected."

Believe it or not, a Kevin Bacon connection isn't the main draw to the Nields.

It's their eclectic style of music that blends folk, pop and rock. And that mixture makes their latest album, the acclaimed "Gotta Get Over Greta," a musical maze of twists and styles.

Sisters Nerissa and Katryna Nields are vocalist and vocalist and guitarist, respectively. Dave Nields, Nerissa's husband (who took her last name), plays guitar. Dave Chalfant plays bass, and Dave Howers is the drummer. The band started out in 1991 as a trio with the sisters and Dave Nields, then expanded into a quintet in 1994 when they added Chalfant and Howers.

The strong family connection is evident, and it has its roots in the Nields sisters' childhood. When Nerissa and Katryna were growing up in Washington, their parents played guitar and sang for them every night after dinner.

"Katryna and I learned from osmosis," Nerissa, who is in her late 20s, says. "They [their parents] were full of love and soul."

In their own band, the Nields have incorporated that family bond.

But for a band that tours 200 days out of the year, does constant contact with husbands, sisters and other bosom acquaintances spark stress?

"We're very close and good at knowing when somebody needs space or love," Nerissa says. "We're good at sensing it. We're getting better all the time, as the Beatles say."

And the Nields don't only refer to the Beatles in casual conversation. They're one of their biggest influences. "Gotta Get Over Greta" includes a loyally faithful cover of "Lovely Rita."

"Why screw around with the Beatles?" Nerissa says.

And the Nields have performed covers of "That Boy" and "Don't Let Me Down" in concert.

When Nerissa began learning to play guitar, she took all the money she had saved and bought a Beatles songbook for easy guitar.

"Of course the songs were in different chords, because it was for easy guitar," she says. "I was able to make them my own."

Fab Four techniques inspire several facets of the Nields' style, from the imagery of the storytelling, to the philosophy of putting the song first, to the harmonies. "How could it not be?" she says of the Beatles' impact. "That was the bread of life."

Sgt. Pepper and sensitivity aside, members of the Nields admit they'd like to see some of the charms of stardom in their future.

"A tour bus wouldn't hurt," Nerissa says. "To be perfectly honest, we would love to be massively popular."

As if being one degree away from Kevin Bacon isn't enough.

The Nields

When: Tuesday. Doors open at 9 p.m. The Nields perform at 11 p.m.

With: Michelle Malone performs at 10 p.m.

Where: Fletcher's, 701 S. Bond St., Fells Point

Tickets: $7

Call: 410-481-SEAT for tickets, (or buy tickets at Soundgarden in Fells Point, 1616 Thames St.) For directions, call Fletcher's infoline, 410-880-8124

Sundial: To hear excerpts from The Nields' latest release, "Gotta Get Over Greta," call Sundial at 410-783-1800 and enter the four-digit code 6199. For other local Sundial numbers, see the Sundial directory on Page 2A.

Pub Date: 9/04/97

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