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RickoMedHeadshot.jpgRick was born July 10, 1950 in the Bronx, New York. The oldest son of what eventually became seven children; Rick’s father was an accountant while his mother held down the fort as chief domestic engineer for the family. In 1954 the family moved from the Bronx to Harrison, NY, a Westchester suburb of NYC. He attended a Catholic grammar school there. In 1964 Rick enrolled in Archbishop Stepinac HS in White Plains, NY. It was there he got his first real experience performing in school plays, in Glee Club and local church basement, YM and YWCA coffeehouses. His earliest influences were Dylan, Donovan, Arlo Guthrie, his friend Rich Bala and his sister Dee.

It was while attending Marist College in Poughkeepsie that Rick started to write his own songs and playing them in surrounding colleges and bars. This was also when he first found his political voice playing at an “Angry Arts Weekend” and various demonstrations and rallies against the Vietnam War and supporting the first grape boycott for the United Farm workers.

In 1970 Rick joined a group of three friends in forming a band called Mirkwood. The philosophy of the band was to avoid playing anything that might be a commercial tune while concentrating on original songs and obscure country, rock, and folk covers. This philosophy culminated in the group finding local critical acclaim, about three years of gigs in local colleges, no money and a date at the Cafe Wha? where, for lack of a better descriptive title, they were billed as a “hard folk” band. Obscurity and band breakup followed.

Rick continued to play as a solo act and with sometime partner Drew Gorman opening for such people as Robert Klein, Stories and Steve Goodman in various colleges in the Northeast. Rick was also firmly ensconced in the tri-state (NY, NJ, CT) bar and club scene doing a mix of country, rock, pop, folk and original tunes.

During the mid-70’s he found himself working at a coffeehouse called “The Fair Harbor” as second string house musician and sound man. Here he befriended more infamous folk singers like Joe Heukerott, Guy Davis and Lyndon Hardy and Jay Ungar. Lyn & Jay hired him to do sound for square dances and it wasn’t long until he was playing along with them.

By the late 70’s Rick was expanding into the Irish pub circuit and sitting in on a regular basis with the Bronx based top forty country cover band White Birch. He was a founding member of the People’s Voice Cafe. About this time he met Pete Seeger. A friend had invited him to go out sailing on what turned out to be Pete’s boat the “Woody Guthrie.” There was no wind so the boat was rowed to Poughkeepsie where Pete asked Rick to join him onstage at a small festival. That night Rick sailed on to Kingston with Pete and found himself hooked on sailing and festivals.

By 1979 Rick was a member of the Hudson River Sloop Singers and sailing on large traditional boats whenever possible, often being paid to play on board. It was a short step from there to actually learning how to sing sea shanties and using them aboard and at museums. Judy Gorman/Jacobs asked Rick to sing backup on her 1982 release, “Right Behind You In The Left Hand Lane.” In 1984 Rick sailed on the schooner “Voyager” to Bermuda and St. Thomas where he became familiar with calypso and reggae. That year also marked the first time he sailed as a volunteer on the “Voyager” teaching the Classroom of the Waves program and his song “The River That Flows Both Ways” appeared on a Fast Folk record. Two years later that song again appeared on record, this time as the title song for Rick’s first release, “Spending My Days.”

By 1990 Rick was hired by Clearwater (The “Flagship of the Environmental Movement”) as Onboard Educator on the “Voyager”, a position he continued to fill until 1996. He also filled crew positions on the “Clearwater” as 1st mate, 2nd mate and onboard educator.

In 1992 Pete Seeger included “The River That Flows Both Ways” on his release, “Family Concert.” Rick also appears in the video of the same.

In April 1995 Rick received his 100 ton Masters License from the Coast Guard and has since been employed as a captain on several vessels. From 1997 thru 2000 Rick was the captain of the schooner “Argia” sailing out of Steamboat Wharf in Mystic Ct.

Rick released “Phillip Hole The Singing Gravedigger” in 2001 and “Phillip Hole Dig It” in 2004 featuring humorously morbid and morbidly humorous songs that he has performed at the NY Renaissance Faire during the summers of 2001 to 2006 where he appeared as the aforementioned Phillip Hole.

In March of 2006 Rick released a CD of some of his favorite western music entitled “Cowboy Up”, which includes his first yodeling and tenor banjo playing on tunes written by Woody Guthrie and Gene Autry as well as a few songs of his own devising.

Excerpted from the NY Times 8/2/92 by Herbert Hadad

… the Bronx-born Mr. Nestler owes his river credentials to another accomplishment. He is a singer and the writer of the song “The River That Flows Both Ways.”It has become a sort of anthem for those who care about the river, and Mr. Nestler himself has become known as the Troubadour of the Hudson. The title of his song is the literal translation of the Algonquin name for the river, Mahicanuk “Pete Seeger just recorded it.” Mr. Nestler said, referring to the area’s most famous musician, “and he mentions between numbers that I wrote the song. It was quite a surprise,”

The album,”Pete Seeger’s Family Concert” from Sony Music, was audio taped and videotaped simultaneously. “Just like they do it for Rock and Roll,” Mr. Nestler said.

He has been a taxi driver transporting customers...into New York City and to the airports. “I also drove a 28-foot straight rig through Soho. After that, driving a cab is a piece of cake.”

He has been an actor. “I made the most money in Rawhide,” he said, which is a theme park in Phoenix resembling an 1880’s town. “I played a deputy sheriff and a crooked gambler. I lived every 7-year-old’s dream. I had a .45 full of blanks. I spent those days ‘shooting’ my friends and insulting the tourists.

I taught myself to play music pretty much,” said Mr. Nestler, who plays the guitar, tenor banjo (and) autoharp and performs as a member of the Hudson River Sloop Singers. Conceding that he does not read music, he said,”Friends showed me a couple of chords.”

Mr. Nestler’s voice is baritone. ”Pete calls me a whiskey tenor,” he said. “I am somewhere in between.”

He made his own album, “Spending My Days,” in 1986 on the Gaff Rig Music label”It’s a long playing record, and I’ve got a few...left. "he said

Mr. Nestler, who was once involved in events aimed at shutting down the nuclear power plant at Indian Point in Buchanan, reflected: “My job is to show up, keep people in good spirits and raise money. I know the F B I has got our pictures” from performing at Indian Point. “I could get them through the Freedom of Information Act.”

“But there’s always that fear,”he added, “that they wouldn’t have anything on me. It would break my ego as an activist.”


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Rick Nestler
1128 Old Liberty Road
Monticello NY 12701