The Nadas to play Oktoberfest


Courtesy of The Nadas

The Nadas were originally formed in Ames and were the house band of People’s bar for a summer. They were named “the best college band you’ve never heard of” by Playboy in 2001. An acoustic band, they were viewed as Indie in the 90s because of the popularity of grunge. They have also played South by Southwest every year since 2006 and opened for Bon Jovi at Wells Fargo Arena.

Cole Komma

Ringing harmonies and soothing guitar tones will be in great supply when The Nadas, who Playboy Magazine named “The Best College Band You’ve Never Heard Of” in 2001, perform on Main Street as a part of the Ames’ Oktoberfest at a 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12.

Mike Butterworth, guitarist and lead vocalist for The Nadas, majored in fine arts at Iowa State in 1993, met Jason Walsmith, a journalism major, who was already in a band in Ames.

“I tried out for a band that Jason was already in, a full band, they needed another guitar player,” Butterworth said. “I made it but, before we could even practice anything the rest of the band literally moved away from me.”

Butterworth and Walsmith decided to perform as an acoustic duo, a rare occurrence in the 1990s, an era that is most well known for grunge.

“That was more in the heydays of grunge and the late grunge movement more into rock and roll,” Butterworth said. “So we were indie at that time for being acoustic guitar guys. And it’s sort of funny now because it’s all the way back around and acoustic music is hip again.”

The Nadas started being noticed when they were the house band for local bar, People’s (the bar which was replaced by Headliners and now Charlie Yokes), a venue the group performed at frequently.

“We played there so much; we played there pretty much every month. But specifically being their house band, we played probably twice a week for a summer,” Butterworth said. “We played there so much only because a lot of people wanted to come to the show and it was fun every single time.”

With the popularity of a wide variety of genres these days, there has always been an ever-present folk and singer/songwriter community.

Butterworth looks to music as a form of comfort for life’s various struggles, but his love for writing music began in high school when he was a part of his first band.

“It’s therapeutic to get [a song] on paper and get it out so I can move past it,” Butterworth said. “I got bit by the bug. I was in one band in high school, and I would sit in my room learning how to play guitar, learning how to play bass guitar. And the first time I got together with other people that had been doing the same thing and it actually sounded decent. … There was something that just clicked in me that has just never gone away.”

After 20 years of music, Butterworth said his feelings for music have remained the same.

“That is still an amazing feeling every time we get on stage. It doesn’t matter if the crowd is lame or the gig is lame when we’re actually playing tunes and we’re playing together. And if you play with someone long enough you don’t have to talk about going off on a tangent and if you want to improvise you just do a little look or a head movement and you’re off and when it works, it’s magical,” Butterworth said.

Butterworth encourages current ISU students to immerse themselves in what they feel the most passionate about.

“If you like to go to plays, go see plays. It seems like kids these days, because they have technology at their fingertips and entertainment at their fingertips on your phone and iPad, people have become introverted,” Butterworth said. “I think it’s important to get to know other human beings and to learn from them and see how they live and broaden your horizons and no better way to do that then play music.”