Musical Legend Nate Wiley Passes Away at age 83

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There are only a few places I am sure to take family and friends when they come to town. They are, in no particular order: Jim’s Steaks, the Italian Market, and Bob and Barbara’s. And while B and B’s is a great bar in its own right, there was something more than the smoky ambience and PBR specials that I wanted to be sure my family experienced in the limited time we had together in the city. That was the sounds, energy, and feeling brought to the room by the house band, Nate Wiley and the Crowd Pleasers.

Nate claimed in an excellent City Paper article in 1998 that he “didn’t play jazz, he played liquor drinking music”. Whatever the genre, Nate was as smooth as they come, and when I decided to hold my first big event in Philadelphia, Quizzo Bowl I, there was only one band I even considered as my musical accompaniment.

Not that Nate was easy to work with. He grumbled about showing up for a sound check, about parking, about how late the show was. And then he took the stage and, let’s face it, saved Quizzo Bowl One. I had no idea what I was doing, and the event ran much longer than it should have. But the crowd perservered, and since most teams were eliminated after two rounds, I am convinced that that had more to do with Nate Wiley and the guys than it did with quizzo questions.

Before Quizzo Bowl Two, I asked the poll question, “Do you want to see Nate Wiley and the Crowd Pleasers again this year?”, and the results were overwhelming. Over 90% of the people who responded said yes. They were not disappointed, as Nate and the Pleasers seemed to somehow take it up a notch from Quizzo Bowl One. And when, at the end of the that show, I asked the crowd to give a warm hand to the band, there erupted the most thunderous applause I have ever heard from a crowd of that size. I get chicken skin thinking about that moment, as the applause seemed to not only maintain but somehow grow as it continued, 300 people wanting to show their appreciation for what was simply a spectacular musical experience. And though I am sad to hear of his death, I selfishly feel lucky to have existed at a time and place where I was granted the opportunity to hear a true Philadelphia legend at his best. I am even more grateful that I was able to share many of those experiences with my family. Rest in Peace, Nate Wiley. You will be truly missed.