Rateliff's rhythm & blue (collar): Band to play sold-out show at Moorhead's Bluestem
MOORHEAD — Just over three years ago, Nathaniel Rateliff was little known outside his adoptive hometown of Denver. That is, until mid-July 2015, when the singer and his band, The Night Sweats, released the video for "S.O.B."
The group's first single, with its gospel-inspired harmonies and hard-driving soul, quickly became a YouTube sensation. Within two weeks, the act was asked to play Jimmy Fallon's "The Tonight Show."
The ensemble pulls into Moorhead's Bluestem Amphitheater Tuesday, Aug. 7, for a sold-out night of soulful rhythm and blues in support of the group's second album, "Tearing at the Seams."
Rateliff's success isn't the overnight variety. He was a fixture on the Mile High music scene for years with previous acts before shifting to his current sound about five years ago.
Not bad for a guy who left his native small town — Hermann, Mo. — without a high school diploma.
The singer/guitarist has worked hard for his current taste of success. Then again, he's always been a blue collar kind of guy, holding down jobs in restaurants, landscaping, trucking and anything else he could find to make ends meet since moving to Denver as part of a church mission trip more than two decades ago.
"I really love working hard. I love physical labor," he told the Chicago Tribune earlier this year.
If the charismatic singer falls under the spell of Fargo-Moorhead and decides to make this his new hometown, here are some jobs he could pick up — besides this whole musician thing.
"I love being a gardener, actually, and I'm a helluva hole-digger," Rateliff stated in the Chicago Tribune interview, talking about his career as a gardener.
He's in luck. While landscaping work may be slowing down for the year, Fargo-Moorhead is in the middle of construction season — the middle because it never really ends.
Two major projects are set to begin that require some significant holes to be dug, though not likely with a shovel. Rateliff could swap his fedora for a hard hat and go to work on the big dig for Moorhead's railroad underpass. Another major project could start soon with the Block 9 high-rise on Broadway in downtown Fargo.
Back it up
"I'm good at backing up trailers," Rateliff also told the Chicago Tribune as he discussed his time working for a trucking company.
Those skills come in handy this time of the year with skilled drivers wanted for sugar beet harvest. Rateliff's last three years spent in a tour bus would be a good match for the long hours of hauling beets.
The roots of Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats goes back more than 20 years to when the singer and bassist Joseph Pope III worked at a Subway restaurant in Missouri. Rateliff came in one night with a guitar to play a song for Pope.
You can take the sandwich artists out of the Subway, but you can't take the sandwich out of the artist. There are plenty of restaurant jobs in Fargo-Moorhead and a shortage of experienced workers for those jobs.
The main man
Moorhead is looking for its next mayor and while three have announced their candidacy, there's always room for another. Besides, Rateliff has the appeal. His show this week sold out shortly after going on sale months ago.
Then again, not being a Moorhead resident may hurt him on the campaign trail.
Knock 'em back
Rateliff knows a thing or two about drinking — the song "S.O.B." is autobiographical, so he would know when to cut someone off from behind the bar. Besides, his beard and tattoos already fill out the requisites for most bartender jobs.
If you go
What: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (opening act Israel Nash)
When: Music starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018
Where: Bluestem Amphitheater, 801 50th Ave. S., Moorhead
Info: This show is sold out; https://jadepresents.com/.