Duo preps for Festival of Eugene: 'The magic is in the collaboration'

EUGENE, Ore. - Greg Nestler and Nate Hawtin are one of 24 bands that are set to play in the Festival of Eugene, which begins Friday.

Their self-titled band, Nestler & Hawtin, drew on influences from Santana, Steely Dan and Lauren Hill.

Nestler began writing songs when he was 14 years old. He says he sent them to family friend and music producer Brian Bell, who's worked with Neil Young, Santana and Herbie Hancock.

"He started sending me songs, and I'd just be nice and write back, not yet, keep writing," Bell said, remembering Nestler's early recordings. "When he turned like 20 or 21, he sent me 15 great songs, and I went okay. Now, it's time to make a record."

In the meantime, Nestler had met Hawtin at the Outback Steakhouse. Nestler was a busser and Hawtin was a server.

Nestler's girlfriend, now wife, told him Hawtin played music.

"I said okay, cool. That's neat," Nestler recalled. "I told her that everyone says that."

A short time later, Nestler says they jammed together at a party.

"We've kind of grown not only with music, but each other's lives," Nestler said. "That's so crucial because when we come together, you have that trust."

Bell says a relationship is important in a duet.

"The magic is in the collaboration," Bell says. "When they sing together, it's very akin to Simon & Garfunkel and Hall & Oates."

Bell called in a couple ringers to play with Nestler and Hawtin on their recently released album "Duality."

"We used the piano player from Santana, David Matthews. We used the bassist from Steely Dan."

Bell says Matthews was shocked to learn that he wasn't recording music for a new John Mayer album.

"This can't be some indie guys from Oregon," Matthews said of Nestler & Hawtin. "This is the new John Mayer record, and you just don't want to pay me."

When it comes down to it, Nestler and Hawtin say they hope to share their music.

"Music is emotion," Hawtin said. "Hopefully a few people like it. It's not much more complicated than that."

The duet will play at Planktown Brewery Friday night and 2:45 P.M. Saturday afternoon at the Festival of Eugene.

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