Since forming in the wake of the Birdseed Bandits in 2014, The Old Main has slowly built a sizeable Central New York following and a reputation for highly entertaining shows. On February 15, the band entered a new phase of its career as bassist/vocalist Nash Robb has decided to leave the band to concentrate on solo material and an eventual move to Ireland.
In honor of Robb’s departure, the band threw together a show they titled The Last Nash Bash at their practice space, the Ukrainian Auditorium in Downtown Utica.
The beautiful room tucked just off Utica’s main thoroughfare was filled to capacity with friends, family, and fans to see Robb off. They didn’t leave disappointed.
An Old Main show runs the gamut of emotions. From foot-stomping Americana to tender ballads to straight-up rock and roll, this band hits each nail on each head with aplomb. This night, however, the emotions were running just a little bit higher with the knowledge that one of the founding members would no longer be playing with his friends.
The 26-song set covered just about every song in the band’s two-album catalog with a few covers thrown in for good measure. To describe The Old Main’s sound, the best phraseology would be feel-good music. Their sound is informed by Americana artists like the Avett Brothers, John Prine, and The Band and indie artists such as The Decemberists, Death Cab For Cutie, and The Killers. There’s something for everyone in an Old Main show.
With the exit of Robb on upright bass and vocals, the former quintet is now a quartet consisting of Seth Becker (guitar/harmonica/vocals), Dusty Elmer (upright bass/vocals), Mitch Eckler (drums/vocals) and Isaac French (keyboards/vocals). The magic of this band is that all members are not only proficient at their instruments, they are also wonderful vocalists, able to harmonize with the best of them.
While this show was a send-off for Robb, it was also an official welcome for keyboardist Isaac French. French joined the band earlier this winter after relocating to Rome from St. Albans, VT. He’s performed with the Vermont combo Nina’s Brew and has a new single being released on Feb. 28.
He’s become a fixture on the Central New York music scene, performing a residency at Woods Valley this winter and playing solo and impromptu duo gigs throughout the area with members of Annie in the Water, Work Related and former Old Main keyboardist Rick Gerken. He’s a soulful singer that hits notes that leaves jaws on the floor. Check out this clip from his version of The Beatles’ “Let It Be” from this show below.
Taking over for Robb on the upright is banjoist Dusty Elmer. Elmer is a picker like no other and his banjo presence will be missed in the band’s overall sound. Here’s hoping the banjo will still make an appearance in future shows. However, Elmer has definitely taken a shine to the upright that will surely fill the void left by Robb. The two shared the stage in a ceremonial passing of the torch during a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “White Freightliner Blues” to close out the first set.
Drummer Mitch Eckler delivered a heartfelt speech mid-set, thanking Robb for helping him achieve his dream of playing music. Eckler maintained his composure speaking of his friend though the discerning ear may have heard a few cracks in his voice. He delivered a true tribute to his friend that spoke not just for himself but for everyone in attendance on this night.
It wouldn’t be an Old Main show if the band members didn’t wander into the crowd to perform amongst its fans. Robb and Becker made their traditional exit through a side door, instruments in tow, only to emerge through the front door of the venue and into the crowd. This Old Main tradition was a nice touch for Robb’s final show with the band and one that would be revisited by the entire band for the night’s encore. See video below of two of the night’s encore songs.
As for the future of Robb and The Old Main? Robb is concentrating on perfecting his solo act and has guested with Syracuse-area alt-rock band All Poets & Heroes on their latest album and on stage at Funk ‘n Waffles. His next solo gig will be at Copper City Brewing Company in Rome on March 1. Upcoming shows include Villa Verona Winery in Verona on March 6 and Woodland Farm Brewery on St. Patrick’s Day.
The revamped version of The Old Main made its first appearance at Woods Valley Ski Area this past Saturday to a great reception. The band will make a trip to the Southern Tier on March 6 for a gig at The Range in Ithaca followed by a show at the Colgate Inn in Hamilton on March 7. They will wrap up March opening for veteran Americana band Driftwood at Funk ‘n Waffles in Syracuse on March 27. Tickets for that show are available now.
What is clear with this parting of the ways, is that these guys are all still very close friends, as exhibited at a recent President’s Day Becker performance at Woods Valley. Both French and Robb made an appearance, not to play, but to listen. And that’s what makes this group of musicians a special bunch. A new era for both The Old Main and Nashua Robb has begun. And it’s bound to be filled with success for both.
Last Nash Bash Setlist – Feb. 15, 2020:
My Way Home
All Day to Get There
Heart Like a Stone
One Night Lovin’
Through the Cracks
The Weight (The Band cover)
Seven Deadly Sins
White Freightliner Blues (Townes Van Zandt cover)
Leave the Lights On
Let It Be (Beatles cover)
Too Far Gone
Encore – Acoustic in crowd
All These Things That I’ve Done (The Killers cover)
Proud Mary (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover)
Look at Miss Ohio (Gillian Welch cover)