Set 8 | Nathan Mongol Wells
Last Tuesday marked the second night of Loaded Up & Truckin’, the open mic Nathan recently began hosting at East Bound & Down. Though I only caught the tail end of the event, I got a glimpse of the organic flow and movement Nathan is trying to create. Open mics have long been a popular resource for musicians to use as an outlet for exposure, providing opportunities to play in front of a group of people and to try out new material. Often times a loose framework can create just enough of a laid back atmosphere to provide a level of comfortability for inexperienced musicians to build confidence playing for a crowd. Nathan expresses the desire for what an open mic could be - an avenue for nurturing community and acting as a networking tool for musicians to collaborate. The rise in the number of open mics over the past few years is testament to the burgeoning music scene in Dallas, and with so many musicians making the transition from home to stage, the field is ripe with fresh creativity. Each person you encounter brings something new to the table, and Nathan is quick to recognize the value in those interactions.
Nathan himself is involved in a variety of different musical projects from Ottoman Turks, to Devil's Sooty Brother, not to mention an array of solo material he has self-produced. He ruminates on the process of developing the album title for Lord's Work, “I believe in God, and I believe in purpose. I’m not going to say that my purpose is necessarily playing music, but I do feel like I have a connection to it. I really enjoy it more than anything else.” Though it’s not a concept album and the songs don’t take on an overtly religious tone, Nathan describes the foundational role that mindset had on the development of the music. "I recorded the album during a transitionary period when there was a lot of music stuff going. I was like man, this is really what I want to do, but there are so many wrong ways to do it especially in the music industry and the business of playing in bars every night... you can really fall into a lot of the traps that are inherent in that. I really wanted to do it the right way." The scope of such an ambitious project like self-recording an album, requires a level of focus, committment, and steadfastness that not everyone is privy to. Nathan's passion for music is visible as he describes the turning point when he knew he wanted to pursue music full-time. "I don't know exactly what I'm supposed to be doing, ever, but I feel like this is a thing I'm really connected to and I don't feel like that's coincidental because I'm not sure what is coincidental or if that's really a thing beyond just a human concept." That dedication and calling to purpose is one of those ineffable things many artists have reported feeling. Where that feeling arises from, I don't know, but it's cultivation in solitude has the strange effect of fostering connection with others outside oneself. That approach, trying to connect with others, has the ability to provide an improvement on the monotonous day-to-day interactions we experience with one another regardless if that foundation is predicated on religion, love, or morality. To try goes a long way, or as Nathan put it, "It's a faith thing, ultimately, whatever you believe in."