Summer Sounds

One-man-band Nate Holley has become something of a local legend here, offering up toe-tapping performances that keep him a perennial crowd favorite. Here, he shares his thoughts on why Saugatuck in the summertime is a magical place for listening to music.

Saugatuck in the summer is a place where music is always in the air, and people are ready to have a good time. That’s exactly what Holley offers with his signature “funky pop” style of music. From 90s hip hop to Top 40 hits, he puts his own twist on songs that get people dancing. And don’t let his one-guy-and-his guitar act fool you. Playing over a self-engineered loop of prerecorded sound, Holley’s music is rich, surprising, and always a ton of fun.

What do you like about the local music scene?

Saugatuck is an amazing town. It reminds me of Florida, where I used to live. When you walk down the street, there’s music outside and in every bar. And in Saugatuck, it feels like listeners and artists come in with open minds. Everyone wants to make the night bigger, and the energy amplifies. This magic happens all over town. You find that good music is promoting more good music.

Are you excited about any local musicians?

I always like the people who think about it a little bit deeper than just showing up and playing four chords. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the Cheap Dates. It’s two guys, Simon and Eric. And it’s similar to what I do because Eric, the drummer, creates tracks off of popular songs. They don’t take up too much space, but their sound is huge. Their song list is amazing.

People should also check out Trixie Tang and Rock Shop. They always have great crowds. Then there’s Delilah DeWylde. She plays a stand-up bass, and she’s really unique. Also, I just saw a guy for the first time, Michael Hulett, who plays the saxophone. He’s a world class talent. For a town so small, you wouldn’t expect so much variety. But we certainly have it.

What are some of your favorite places to play?

I play at Wally’s Bar & Grill, which is really fun. It reminds me a lot of the places I’ve played in Chicago and Florida. Wally’s gets really busy, so the energy is great. The Butler Deck and the deck at Coral Gables always seem to be on fire. People are out partying and having a good time. And then every once in a while, the Saugatuck Center for the Arts brings in a big show that you can’t miss.

What recommendations would you make to someone visiting the area?

Follow your ears. Because on a nice summer day, when you’re walking down the street, your ears will tell you where you want to go. You’ll hear a classic rock band over at the Butler Deck. You’ll hear an 80s band at Wicks Park. And then you’ll hear me playing 90s hip hop songs at Wally’s. My favorite part is that you don’t have to commit. Almost all of those places are outdoors, so you can just walk around the town and listen to the music until you find a spot where you want stay.

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