Back to Kerrville

I’m looking forward to participating in the New Folk showcase at the Kerrville Folk Festival on Sunday, May 26. This is among my favorite summer festivals, especially since this one puts the focus on songwriting. This will be my third time participating in this event. Learn more about it at this link.

Getting back out there

It’s been a long pandemic, but I’m slowly beginning to put shows back on the books. The old Songwriter’s Night series hosted by Avi Wisnia and me has been moved to the Philadelphia Folksong Society, and renamed Philly Songwriters in the Round. Look for that each first Thursday of the month. Wishing great things to Laura and co. as she rolls out her new venue in Ardmore. Meanwhile, I’m continuing to book out the fall and winter, and working to finish the new Nathans & Ronstadt album. Look for our duo show dates on that website.

Aaron wins the South Florida Folk Festival songwriting contest

Hey, I won the South Florida Folk Festival songwriting contest! I was one of three winners at this live event last weekend in Davie, Florida, sponsored by the Broward Folk Club. The other winners were my friend Karyn Oliver, and my new friend Pamela Machala. All the contestants were terrific songwriters, and I was honored to be included in this talented group.

Songwriters Night, the series

Avi Wisnia and I are excited to present this monthly series at The Living Room at 35 East, featuring the best in touring and local artists, presented in the round. The next edition, on July 11, will feature a terrific lineup: Scott Wolfson, Lisa Jeanette, John Beacher and Karen Dahlstrom. I will host. Hope to see you there.

Senator McCain

It feels like a lifetime ago that I wrote a song about John McCain, who died on Saturday at the age of 81. The song, which I wrote in 2002 and put on my first album, actually envisions his inevitable death as a way to question whether it would be worth giving up his essential decency to join the ranks of presidents of the United States. Was his soul worth having his tiny portrait included on a thin horizontal poster over an elementary school blackboard?

At the time I wrote the song, his challenge to George W. Bush in the 2000 primary was a distant memory, and the 2008 campaign and its associated storyline had not yet occurred. I was actually thinking, for some reason, about Jimmy Carter, and how he lost his reelection campaign in part because of his distaste for the jugular, and his own essential decency.

Over and over, we’ve seen men willing to sacrifice their dignity to get elected. Even George H.W. Bush, who in some ways is equally beloved, had his lowest moment not when he lost reelection, but when he won by working with Lee Atwater to smear Michael Dukakis with the Willie Horton ads during the 1988 campaign. His son won election twice by using Karl Rove’s base tactics to great effect, even taking a nation to war in the process. And of course, the current occupant of the Oval Office needs no introduction. They will be included on that classroom poster, and Senator McCain will not.

But in John McCain, I saw a man who put his country first, who understood that this nation’s power comes from an ability to listen to each other, to agree to disagree, and to find common ground where possible. He didn’t always live up to that, but he did often enough that he will be remembered as a great American. Not every president will be able to say that.

They can have their libraries. You, senator, will always have this song.

Kerrville New Folk

I’m looking forward to returning to the Kerrville Folk Festival over Memorial Day weekend to take part in the New Folk concerts. I am thankful to have been chosen to participate in this Texas event that celebrates songwriting. This is my second time at the metaphorical rodeo — I played New Folk in 2011. I’m looking forward to making some new friends and seeing some old ones. I was pleased to see a few familiar faces join the Class of 2018, including Michael Braunfeld, Susan Cattaneo and Austin MacRae. For more information, click here.

April shows!

Aaron Nathans & Michael G. Ronstadt will be playing a flurry of shows in April — Philly, the Poconos, and western CT. Check out the gigs page and come join us!