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Nat's entertainment; Dave Owens speaks to the organiser and two of the musicians involved in charity fundraiser Nat Night.

James Hannam TONIGHT Clwb Ifor Bach is the venue for a special charity fundraising gig. Nat Night will celebrate the life of musician Nathaniel Rowson - while raising funds for the Whizz Kidz and Rookwood Spur charities.

Many of Nat's friends will appear on the line-up to pay tribute to the singer, who passed away earlier this year.

Nat was the colourful frontman of Cardiff cabaret-punks The Toe - a band famed for their riotous live shows.

Nat also co-edited the influential Clique magazine which was requested for inclusion in the National Library of Wales as a journal of interest.

He was also an avid gig-goer, regularly spotted at gigs around Cardiff supporting local bands and as a result he made many friends who warmed to his enormous sense of fun.

Two years ago he was diagnosed with a tumour in his spinal cord, which resulted in him being wheelchair bound.

However, this didn't stop him from raising thousands of pounds for the Whizz Kidz charity - after setting himself a personal challenge to raise funds for young people who struggle to get the equipment James Hannam that gave him his independence.

Sadly, the indomitable musician passed away on May 22 this year.

James Hannam - organiser of Nat Night and also known as electronica wunderkind Culprit 1 "I met Nat through mutual friends in late 1999 at The Wharf in Cardiff Bay. I was supposed to play a gig with my band that night, but the guitarist's amp blew up. Although I was disappointed at the time, it meant I was able to spend more time chatting to a new mate.

"I was drawn to Nat's eccentricity, which was evident in both his musical taste and highly individual fashion style - orange kipper ties being the order of the day on special occasions. He was a truly unique character and a supportive, generous friend.

"Nat described his band The Toe as 'Cardiff's leading cabaret punk act' and their fans were always guaranteed a great time at the gigs. Audience members were never safe from Nat, who regularly dive-bombed in to the crowd. Some of the more excitable fans often responded in a similar way - stage invasions at the end of Toe shows were pretty much guaranteed.

"Although Nat had been ill for several years, his death came as a shock to friends and family.

"Nat's funeral was fancy dress, at his request. Given Nat's passion for Glamorgan CCC, I decided to go as a cricket player. Some of the best outfits on the day included a Rubik's cube, a Christmas tree and a tiger!

"One of his favourite venues was Clwb Ifor Bach, which is why we're proud to be working with them as the host venue, and they are also donating their venue to help us raise as much money as possible.

"We're all still recovering from his passing, but Nat Night will be a great celebration of his life. Nat always liked to work on projects with friends, so I'm sure he would be delighted that we're all working together on the event.

"We're very grateful that Nat's favourite artists have agreed to perform for us. All the money raised will be split between Nat's favoured charities Rookwood Spur and Whizz Kidz.

Rhodri Viney - frontman of Cardiff band Ratatosk "We originally 'met' on the internet - we both frequented an internet discussion group based around the Welsh band Topper, so we began e-mailing and met up shortly after at a Toe gig.

"Nat was incredibly funny, capable of being very witty or ridiculously puerile (sometimes both!) - he always made me laugh, and obviously he adored music - we had a shared love of Krautrock, Julian Cope, peculiar folk music and loads more. And he was always very encouraging when it came to my own music, probably more than anyone else I know - he and his wife Rose came to more of my gigs than anyone else I can think of.

"I played with the Toe a lot - they gave me my first gig more than 11 years ago when I started out under the name Teflon Monkey. It was always great hanging out with all the band, and I loved watching The Toe play - I never saw them do a bad gig.

"I think 'unselfconscious' would be a good way of describing him as a performer. The Toe really were incredible, a true one-off. The three other members would hold the music together and play totally straight-faced, while Nat would just do his thing - he was an unlikely frontman, but when he began his howling, jumping, dancing and singing these bizarre songs it was amazing.

"The most memorable Toe gig for me was when they played as their own support act - under the guise of being an experimental prog band from Usk called Kokenokerz.

"Nat loved a party and he loved music, so Nat Night is perfect. The line up contains some of his favourite artists and good friends."

Carlie Staples - bass player with Cardiff's Stray Borders "I first saw Nat on stage at Pontypridd Muni Arts Centre in May 2001. My friend told me I had to check out this band The Toe. They were supporting Gorky's Zygotic Mynci.

"I didn't really know what to expect and still find it hard to describe what I witnessed to this day. I was hit with The Toe's entertainment wand, a wash of good feelings and musical theatre that made my face and belly ache. I was hooked.

"After the performance I was introduced to Nat and I felt like I'd known him forever. Nat had a knack of taking friends in under his wing. From the off I felt I was welcomed into Nat's huge group of friends.

"His manner and smile made you feel good. He always had time for friends and made great efforts to make them happy, often through laughter. It would upset him if he thought he'd upset anyone. If Nat was a book I'd read him several times, always learning something new.

"I think it's important to say that Nat had prepared me and as many friends as he could (for his passing), as best as he could.

"I was lucky to have spent time with him. The last time I saw Nat was in early May 2011. My partner and I took him a ginger beer. He was all smiles and it was difficult to relate how ill he was.

"Less than a month later I got the news. I was at home and just sat there for a while until I called my dad. What my dad said was helpful and what I needed to hear at the time - "I hope you and your friends can try and be as positive as he was for all of you." I keep thinking about all the lovely memories Nat has given me and his smiling face. He will always be an important part of my life.

"Nat Night is just the sort of thing Nat would of done for one of his friends. He'd enjoy anything that involved people getting together from a game of footie in the park to a fancy dress or dinner party. He'd think it was great and be pleased money was being raised for Whizz Kidz and Rookwood Spur Charitable Trust. It's going to be a really fun night, it takes a special man to inspire that sort of thing."

* Nat Night will be held at Clwb Ifor Bach tonight and features Wizz Jones, Euros Childs (Gorky's Zygotic Mynci), The Keys, Spencer McGarry Season, Stray Borders, Ratatosk and Toe-e-oke - where the original members of The Toe will play alongside guest vocalists. Tickets are pounds 7. More information from 029 2023 2199 or via


* Nathaniel Rowson fundraising for Wizz Kidz, left and on stage performing with The Toe, above
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 4, 2011
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