From Niwot to Nashville and back - The Nalani Effect headlines Rock & Rails
August 23, 2023
This week's Rock & Rails headliner is possibly the first performer in the series to have ever set foot on Whistle Stop Park's gazebo stage. Nalani is a Niwot High School graduate with deep area roots and fond memories of the concert series.
"Rock & Rails is my home," Nalani said. "I remember when they built the gazebo and feeling that it was an anchor point for a community space. I just stood up on it, with my arms wide open, and wondered what the space would be like with the crowd, vendors, and community coming together. Now, that's my favorite part of being a performer, that exchange between us as a musician and the community."
Nalani's debut as a headliner on Aug. 24 isn't the first time she's played as part of the series. She said that her first experience on stage was likely sitting in with veteran performer Hazel Miller, whom she's known since childhood and who has supported her career. She's also frequently been an opening act, taking the stage on her own and playing her stand up bass,
She said that this year's event is a fun contrast to those performances, which she described as softer, more acoustic, with the kind of big smile and rich vocals that call Norah Jones to mind. This week at Whistle Stop Park, she'll be playing with The Nalani Effect as part of a trio consisting of herself, Regi Wooten and Adam Wooton, who Niwot audiences don't always get the chance to see. .
Thursday's audience can expect the full Nalani effect. "It's going be pretty rockin'. Hard to stop. We do a lot of old school funk and R&B - everything that makes people dance. We stick to the classics to get people moving," Nalani said, and added that she likely won't stick to a set list, and that her approach will be fierce and fun with an uplifting dynamic full of love and joy.
The three members of The Nalani Effect have deep roots playing together, which makes their connections feel more like a family band and keeps them in the moment. "The experience of wild abandon is what I want to cultivate," she explained. "Regi is really good at that. He's a master at guitar playing. When he pulls out these riffs and wild sounds, it's very amplified and exuberant. He's had a lot of experience leading. He knows exactly what the performance needs."
After graduating from Niwot High School, Nalani's musical development happened not only in Colorado, but in Texas and Nashville, where she currently lives. She said she considered quitting music after college, but a memorable Texas open mic night changed her mind. Over time, she was invited to play more often, so she began studying under Wooten, and decided that she needed to fully commit to her music and to live in Nashville.
During this visit to Colorado, Nalani will be playing at other events in addition to Rock & Rails. On August 25, she will be at the NoName Funk Fest, opening for the Reminders, while the next day she'll be at Longmont's Grossen Bart Brewery playing a fundraiser for Music First, a Colorado non-profit organization supporting musicians. She'll also return to Rock & Rails a second time, opening, as a solo artist, for Hazel Miller on August 30.
And who will be opening for this previous series' opening act? Attendees who come for happy hour at 5 p.m. will be able to experience Wendy Woo, who has headlined the series in the past and who has also served as Nalani's songwriting teacher. "It feels full-circle and a huge honor to have someone of her caliber opening for us," said Nalani.
With these kinds of deep connections, will the pair of performers be crossing over and joining each other on the stage? "Possibly. That would be super fun," Nalani said, acknowledging the appeal without giving anything away. "We'll just have to see."