As local venues reopen, Nineteen Hand Horse prepares to take the stage

As local venues reopen, Nineteen Hand Horse prepares to take the stage

As local venues reopen, Nineteen Hand Horse prepares to take the stage
Nineteen Hand Horse performs live at the Clayton Club Saloon on June 19. (Photo courtesy 19HH)

CLAYTON, CA — California will move toward a wider reopening next week. One thing many of us have missed over the past year is going out to enjoy live music.

Local bands have struggled and tried to stay afloat with outdoor performances and Zoom concerts, but indoor performances at local clubs will soon make a comeback.

One East Bay band, Nineteen Hand Horse, is raring to go and will perform live — yes live in person— at the Clayton Club Saloon on Saturday, June 19. The band wears its country influences on its sleeve, with dashes of rock, blues, alternative, and good time bar-band material also in the mix.

The group brings authenticity and country soul to the stage. The unique singer/songwriter partnership of Nathalie Archangel and Mark Anthony Montijo harkens back to the glory days of George and Tammy, Johnny and June, and Dolly and Porter.

In a May 31 review of their new album, Revel, country music magazine Maverick said that although “the group may be newly formed, all of its members have worked in the music industry as platinum-selling songwriters, producers or instrumentalists, and you can certainly tell, as the record is riddled with clever lyrics, impressive guitar riffs and it’s pulled together with a phenomenal production.”

A wealth of experience

Featured singer Nathalie Archangel has a wealth of experience. A double-platinum songwriter for her work on Bette Miller’s album Some People’s Lives, Nathalie spent the early part of her music career recording well-received but under-promoted pop albums for Columbia and MCA. These did foreshadow the future. Nathalie penned a few wonderful duets and enlisted the likes of Frankie Valli and Howard Jones as vocal partners on her MCA release, Owl. She has also worked with luminaries Greg Penny, Don Was and David Kahne, among others.

Mark Montijo grew up on a horse ranch near Spade Cooley’s old place near Willow Springs, California. There, he listened to the music on Bakersfield AM country radio. After moving to Los Angeles, Mark formed the power trio Dogs on Fire. That band landed Duran Duran’s coveted opening-act slot at the Los Angeles Forum. But ultimately the band broke up prior to hitting big. Mark and Nathalie both left the music industry in disappointment.

Can’t stop the music

Sometime afterward, both Mark and Nathalie coincidentally settled into jobs in healthcare. They met, fell in love and married. Mark became a psychologist and Nathalie a nurse practitioner. Both have worked steadily in those positions throughout the pandemic. Nineteen Hand Horse formed when Nathalie and Mark met Mark “Lemonade” Monroe. The Ohio native and harmonica/woodwinds player has accompanied Loretta Lynn, Jerry Reed, and Shania Twain.

In time, Mark and Nathalie added some wonderful like-minded musicians to their makeshift posse. Among them drummer/singer Lowell Stephenson, bass player Ralph Ruiz and guitarist Brad Sears, who owns and operates Consumer Music, the shop/conservatory/studio trifecta where Revel was recorded between 2018 and 2020. Engineer, multi-instrumentalist, producer and vocalist James “Jae-E” Early assisted. With James’ arrival, Nineteen Hand Horse—19HH to their friends—became complete.

The band’s music evokes its rich history. Its sound marries the grit, honesty and clarity of an old Sun Records session with the tasteful modern wizardry of today. Over that are some of the sharpest, cleverest lyrics written since Cole Porter or Townes Van Zandt. The songs take the listener through a wickedly funny, occasionally poignant and always entertaining journey across decades and paradigms.

For the show, head over to the Clayton Club Saloon in historic downtown Clayton. 19HH plays Saturday, June 19, from 10 pm to 1 am. Clayton Club is located at 6096 Main St., Clayton, telephone 925-673-0440.

To learn more about Nineteen Hand Horse, including details on future performances, click here.