Tag Archives: Nathan Berg

Just The Boys

It’s time to reflect on the year that’s just ending. Let’s start with some of the multi-talented guys we’ve enjoyed featuring this year. In alphabetical order …

Finn Andrews

The captivating frontman of The Veils dazzled us with his musicianship when the band played at Sammy’s in July. The Veils are currently back in New Zealand and will be performing locally at Rhythm and Alps at Cardrona near Wanaka (New Year’s Eve).

Finn Andrews at Sammy's (19 July 2013)

Finn Andrews at Sammy’s (19 July 2013)

Nathan Berg

This American musical prodigy changed direction to become an economics/mathematical hotshot and now works at the University of Otago. But he still finds time to wow audiences with his bass playing at Circadian Rhythm Cafe Friday night jazz sessions as part of the trio Philtre.

Nathan Berg, a beautiful mind

Nathan Berg, a beautiful mind

Wesley Fourie

South African-born Wesley, model and blogger, has raised the bar of Dunedin man-style, favouring local labels such as NOM*d and Company of Strangers. Check out some of his looks here.

Wesley Fourie on Edinburgh Way

Wesley Fourie on Edinburgh Way

Alan Haig

This locally born music legend has brought Dunedin’s beautiful scenery to our attention through his photography. Greetings cards featuring Alan’s photos can be purchased from Digiart and Design (Port Chalmers) and Portobello Gallery which also sells his prints. This week, the Sunday Star Times rated the re-released 1988 Snapper EP (Flying Nun label), in which Alan plays drums, as a musical “standout” of 2013.

Alan Haig

Alan Haig

Frits Homburg

Where would the Dunedin cultural scene be without Frits and his exuberant partner in crime, Debbie? Their stylish cafe, Purple Rain, is the perfect venue for musical extravanganzas and retro parties. Frits’ extensive knowledge of vintage clothing and collectibles comes in handy at Dunedin’s Vintage Roundups.

Frits at The Vintage Roundup, Princes Street (7 September 2013)

Frits at The Vintage Roundup, Princes Street (7 September 2013)

Richard Ley-Hamilton

Local musician Richard shows that Dunedin musical talent is alive and kicking. He is the lead singer of Males who have recently released the album ‘Run Run Run/Males Males Males’. They opened for The Veils in July and will be supporting Die! Die! Die! at Chicks Hotel on New Year’s Eve.

Richard Ley-Hamilton at Sammy's (19 July 2013)

Richard Ley-Hamilton at Sammy’s (19 July 2013)

Sam Ralph

Flamboyant Otago Polytechnic Fashion graduate, Sam, is alas no longer in Dunedin, having chosen to pursue his dream of becoming a designer across the Tasman. His acclaimed capsule collection of menswear was much admired at iD Dunedin Fashion Week 2013.

Sam Ralph with his own sock designs in Barkers, Dunedin (March 2013)

Sam Ralph with his own sock designs in Barkers, Dunedin (March 2013)

Jon Thom

Central Otago-raised artist Jon (of Dunedin’s Moodie Tuesday) designs some of the best t-shirts in New Zealand. You can find them on celebrities including Colin Mathura-Jeffree and X Factor’s Tom Batchelor. His original artworks are highly sought after. Jon was one of the artists featured in the ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor’ exhibition held in Wanaka in November.

Jon Thom in his studio (July 2013)

Jon Thom in his studio (July 2013)

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Claim To Fame On Campus: Nathan Berg

Nathan Berg has it all. Not only does he have film star good looks to match his intellect but his musical talent comes in bucket loads! Luckily for us Dunedinites, in June 2012, he made the life-changing move across the Pacific to take up a position as Associate Professor at the University of Otago.

Nathan Berg

Nathan Berg

Nathan was born into a creative, artistic and well-travelled family in Iowa City where his father was completing a PhD in film studies. Shortly after, the family moved to New York City for five years. While his father wrote for Downbeat Magazine, Nathan started his career as a child actor. This included TV commercials (e.g. Dunkin Donuts) and the voice of Jeffy in ‘A Family Circus’ cartoon series – very cute. However, Nathan considers Lawrence, Kansas, his hometown because he grew up there and became immersed in its “creative energy”. At the young age of 15, he started a jazz studies degree at the University of North Texas. Soon, he was on the road performing as a “fulltime jazz bassist” and was offered a record contract. Unbelievably, while still actively performing, he gained a BA (Hons) in American studies, MA in mathematics and PhD in economics!

Nathan in his office

Nathan in his office

So how did Nathan end up in New Zealand? He was drawn here by both academic (the research being carried out at Otago’s Economics Department) and creative reasons. “I read about Graeme Downes, heard US rock bands expressing appreciation for the Dunedin Sound and bands like The Chills and The Verlaines, and noticed many other aspects of Dunedin that attracted me. Being in Dunedin has opened a rich, new chapter in my life. One aspect that I especially appreciate is the face-to-face contact with people pursuing many different projects. The academic community, artists and students are one part of this – but there’s so much more, which includes agricultural production, manufacturing, tech entrepreneurs, etc.”

Nathan with a student during his 'office hour'

Nathan with a student during his ‘office hour’

We asked Nathan to explain in layman’s terms about his academic research. We loved his answer: “I’m trying to create new scientific evidence that will help us all feel happier, healthier and wiser. Not like Huxley’s Soma. But by understanding the way humans make high-stakes decisions about money, food, exercise, and big medical decisions.”

Music runs in the family. Nathan’s grandfather toured with “jazz big bands in the 1930s” and his father is still playing saxophone and flute professionally. It was inevitable that Nathan would be infected with the music bug. He plays acoustic bass, electric bass, piano and drums. And he also has a great singing voice.

Nathan playing at Circadian Rhythm Cafe

Nathan playing at Circadian Rhythm Cafe

Check out his music video for ‘Right Now’. Can we detect a punk influence?

Nathan has toured with trumpeter Maynard Ferguson (with whom he recorded the ‘Live at Ronnie Scotts’ album in London) and played with an impressive list of jazz royalty: Clark Terry, John Scofield, Bernadette Peters, Chaka Khan, Bill Stewart, Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein, Joe Morello, Alan Broadbent and many others.

It’s no wonder that he was snapped up by jazz band Philtre who have a residency at Circadian Rhythm Cafe every Friday night (5:30 – 8:30). He has also recently performed as a solo artist at Queens Bar and at a Sunday Porch Session for Operation Underground. This Sunday afternoon, he will be performing at Inch Bar (Opoho) and we intend to be there.

Philtre. From left: Phil Lyons (guitar, tenor sax), Nathan Berg (electric bass), Kevin Finigan (drums).

Philtre. From left: Phil Lyons (guitar, tenor sax), Nathan Berg (electric bass), Kevin Finigan (drums).

So, if you want to be taught economics by a charismatic musical genius, take BSNS104 at Otago in the second semester next year.

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