Nathan Walton switches gears but doesn’t lose momentum

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Nathan Walton released new music this past March. Courtesy Robert Neumann/Big Event Studios

Singer-songwriter Nathan Walton was in Alabama when the nation went into lockdown. After winning a golden ticket and competing in “American Idol” in 2019, his band was booked for about six months straight in the spring and summer of 2020, but that all came to a halt when COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill.

“You kind of have to level with yourself on the point to where it’s like, you know, there’s a lot more going on than just my band,” Walton said.

“And then I kind of found peace with, you know, the whole world is at this standstill, let’s take advantage of really looking at each other and really understanding what’s going on and how we can move forward in a positive way.”

This was the motivation behind Walton’s new album “Nathan Walton & The Remedy,” which was recorded at Third Coast Recording Co. in Grand Haven and released in early March.

“The Remedy is to try and put a positive out there with everything going on,” he said.

The Byron Center native’s passion for music began at an early age, from singing in choir to starting his first band at the age of 15. His soulful voice was described as a “cannon” by Lionel Richie when competing on “American Idol,” and his songs are a mix of blues and rock and roll.

This dedication and drive for music have carried Walton through the pandemic. Despite having to cancel its live shows, the band began streaming performances virtually for fans. In March, they were part of the lineup in Spread the Music, a show organized by the Michigan Music Alliance to benefit musicians.

“To go from playing at the Orpheum Theatre with, you know, like 18 cameras around you and three celebrity judges to absolutely nobody, (it’s) strange,” Walton said. “But we’re still playing and it’s all good. I know there’s a lot of other people in worse places than I am.”

Gaining energy from an audience and gleaning cues from fans’ faces is difficult in the age of virtual performances, but Walton has grown accustomed to it.

“I’ve done enough livestreams to where I’m sitting there and I’m like ‘Oh, there’s some comments, or oh, there’s a heart,’ and I’m like that’s somebody on the other side of the screen. That’s a human putting in some of that effort.”

Additionally, Walton said he’s been selling more merchandise online than ever before. This period has not only given the band more time to focus on amping up photography and video but has also given Walton time to reflect.

“Writing was really good therapy for me too, to just write and express myself on paper and with my instrument,” he said.

As for scheduling tour dates, the band is still looking into next year but has already solidified dates for six live shows this summer and has three livestreams in the next couple of months.

“We’re just trying to do the right thing and make it happen slowly,” Walton said. “And at this point, it’s been a year and there’s really no rush to not do it right the first time, so we’re going to try and just slowly pick up shows and dive more into livestreams with professional video and audio for people.”

And that’s not it for Walton. He’s back in the studio working on a new album, which should be released in 2022, if not by the end of the year.

This story can be found in the July/August 2021 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox, subscribe here

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