Conshohocken Curve - The Song!
Conshohocken Curve – The Song!
by Brian Coll
So, occasionally I look on YouTube and punch in Conshohocken and one day I found this, a song called Conshohocken Curve by Aaron Nathans & Michael G. Ronstadt. I clicked on it, and I won’t give away the song but I enjoyed it. I reached out to the guys and thought maybe they would give me one line about it and move on with their day. Once we got chatting it turned into a nice interview and I thought I’d share it with all of you.
Here is the song if you want to check it out before reading: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUqVsHqOvZU
Okay, what got my attention was the song Conshohocken Curve…. before I ask about the meaning of the song after listening to it a few times, have either of you lived here or spent time here?
Aaron Nathans – I currently live in Delaware County, and Michael used to live in the Collegeville area (he now lives in Cincinnati). I have driven by Conshohocken, or through it, many times. In fact, I took a wrong turn into Conshohocken just yesterday. What got the song started was hearing about backups on the curve when I was listening to XPN. I thought, “what a lovely word, this has to be a song. And where is that curve, anyway?”
Michael G. Ronstadt – I didn’t grow up in the area, but after graduate school I lived in the Collegeville/Phoenixville area from 2008-2014. I quickly discovered that the Conshohocken Curve was the most accurate indicator letting me know if it would take me 2+ hours to get into the city or if my drive was going to be an easy 45 minutes. I also heard it mentioned on the traffic reports (and still do when touring out east!), which encouraged me to look it up on wikipedia so that I could understand more accurately.
Now, without giving too much away, did this really happen to you? Which one of you?
AN>> I would certainly hope not, given how horrible a day this character has, over and over, in the same exact spot. And the weather! It always rains. I think there’s probably a grain of truth in there for one of us, but this song being a co-write, we both have plausible deniability. The universal truth here is that human beings have a way of repeating the same mistakes over and over, and in the end we get what we deserve because we didn’t learn from our errors.
MGR>> I also would hope that this didn’t directly happen to me, but I would admit to some difficult conversations taking place on the Conshohocken Curve with a certain person. That being said, I am thinking that I did learn from my errors by having extra time sitting in traffic to contemplate all the factors involved during those less comfortable phone conversations.
Did you play this song at the Philadelphia Folk Fest this past year?
AN>> Yes! Always a highlight when we play it in Philly.
MGR>> Yes indeed, I concur! We love to perform this everywhere. I also play it with two of my other groups, Serenity Fisher & The Cardboard Hearts as well as Ronstadt Brothers. As I type this, Conshohocken Curve will be performed by Ronstadt Brothers in Redwood City, California.
Is that the largest crowd you have ever played too?
AN>> Pretty close. I think separately we have played to larger crowds, but Fest this year was a big blast.
MGR>> There were quite a bit of folks at Folk Fest. It was an honor that so many fellow musicians, friends and family came out to see us play our set.
I don’t want to force a label on you guys, how would you describe your music to anyone reading?
AN>> We are one part comfy folk music, and one part weird. Our elevator pitch is “wild-mind, adventurous cello-centered folk.” We oughta do a gig in an elevator. We would sell out the room, for sure.
MGR>> I am on board with Aaron’s spot-on description.
I heard a few influences, but once again I don’t want to throw a label or an artist out there, are there artists you feel similar too? Anyone you admire and have tried to emulate?
AN>> I don’t think we’re exactly similar to anyone, but each of us has our influences and sensibilities. For me, it’s songwriter craftsmen and women like Dar Williams, Guy Clark, James Taylor and Paul McCartney. I try to have something new to say in every song. That’s one reason I was drawn to writing about the Curve — surely, that song hasn’t been written… right?
MGR>> I am influenced by a number of folks and music styles, but my first main influence is my late father Michael J. Ronstadt. I also grew up obsessing over Gypsy Kings, Mariachi Cobre and Vargas, Radiohead, Enigma, Deep Forest, Ottmar Liebert, The Beatles, Brahms, Barber, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Rachmaninoff, Trio Los Panchos, Linda Ronstadt, and one of my favorite songwriters who is not known by most, my cousin Bobby Ronstadt.
My dad loves Dar Williams and my now wife just danced to James Taylor with her dad. Where are you playing next for anyone who wants to check you out live?
AN>> Cafe Malelani in Mt. Airy, 10/14, 1 p.m. More gigs in November and December at www.nathansandronstadt.com.
MGR>> We are always adding gigs to our calendar too, so check out our joint website as well as our individual ones incase you want to see Aaron solo www.aaronnathans.com / www.michaelronstadt.com .
Can I send people to a couple songs on youtube or anywhere?
What brought you guys together?
AN>> We were placed on the same bill by Scott Trifletti at the old Barrington Coffee House. I opened for Ronstadt Generations, Michael’s family band. I was playing with my drummer buddy Marc Taylor. Michael jumped in on my song “Same Old You” and took it to the moon.
MGR>> After we met when Aaron opened for Ronstadt Generations, I remember calling Aaron up at some point and asking if he wanted to play some shows together. I’m thinking we started playing a few farmers markets to get used to each other’s material and the rest is history. Eventually we had an EP for NERFA in 2012, then had an album in 2014 and another in 2017. It has been a wild ride indeed!
Guys, it’s been great chatting. Anything else you can think of, anything you want to throw out there?
AN>> I desperately wanted to work the word “Leurve” into a rhyme with “curve” in this song. It didn’t flow. But what did work is when Michael took this outline of a story I put together and added this nightmarish chord progression, and that funky middle eight that makes the Curve sound like Dead Man’s Curve. He does a great version of this song with Serenity Fisher. A lot of the songs on our album, “Hang On for the Ride,” urge patience, and I think this is one of them. The curve is a metaphor for … well, traffic. We humans end up spending a lot time frustrated and waiting for things to change. Eventually we come out the other side. But it takes time.
MGR>> Keep an eye out for upcoming material as we put it out. I have been releasing our backlog of videos from live shows, so we just love it when folks share our music with friends. We also have it all for sale online and those sales help keep us musicians going and being creative. I am thankful for everyone who has supported us and continues to do so.
Thanks so much, it was great chatting with you both and I’ll keep an eye out for local shows in the future.