The Hippo


May 28, 2020








Courtesy photo.

City of Dayle with Ryan Williamson

When: Friday, April 3, 9 p.m.
Where: True Brew Barista, Bicentennial Square, Concord

From country to City of Dayle
Natalie Turgeon shifts sound with new project

By Michael Witthaus

A few weeks into the New Year, Natalie Turgeon asked her Facebook followers to like a new page. A click-through led to a video of Turgeon and musical partner John Cunningham announcing a new project: City of Dayle. They played “Love Me,” a stark acoustic ballad recalling early Sheryl Crow. Every Tuesday since, the duo has debuted another song, all but one an original, each a musical departure.  

Fans of the Natalie Turgeon Band shouldn’t be surprised. The group gained initial prominence with 2011’s “Country-ish,” a song that also served as a statement. Though comfortable playing Dolly Parton covers in places like Midnight Rodeo, the Concord singer’s tastes ran beyond country. 
City of Dayle is a declaration of independence, the two explained in a recent interview. 
“From the beginning, the stuff we were writing didn’t fit into the country genre,” Turgeon said. “We were primarily a cover band and we needed a shift to reflect our identity.”
Cunningham agreed. 
“We’d be doing this material and just look at each other and say, we’re not feeling it like we should,” he said.
Their new approach doesn’t hew to a particular style, and that’s the point. 
“Instead of trying to crowbar it into country, we decided … just write the music that was ours,” said Cunningham. “With that said, our sound is indie, but heavily influenced by other genres.”
It’s right there in the name, Turgeon implied: “You think of New York City as a great melting pot, well, I guess that’s what City of Dayle is. The Dayle part has personal meaning, but we really wanted to include our followers in the group name, because it’s for them.”
A March 7 debut at a benefit for musician Matt Langley in early March went well, Turgeon said. 
“It felt positive; it’s been good so far,” she said. 
Their next show is April 3 at Concord’s True Brew Barista, when they’ll share the spotlight with singer-songwriter Ryan Williamson.
“We wanted someone who’d fit in with the style of music we’re doing … a complementary crowd,” said Cunningham of the co-bill choice. “Give Ryan a chance to grow with our fans and vice versa. We’re about supporting the next artist — that works the best. In order for people to grow, bands have to help each other. Otherwise, it’s impossible.”
Performing to help Langley with his ongoing medical costs exemplified this urge. 
“We met Matt when we were getting started some years back at the Red Blazer; he would call us up and have us perform,” Turgeon said. “He’s really laid back, and he’d selflessly give up his spotlight.”
Playing the show led them to write the anthemic “Stand Tall” and dedicate it to their friend. 
“Nothing’s gonna keep me down/I won’t fear the darkness when it falls,” Turgeon sings of Langley’s ongoing cancer battle.  
“He’s always positive, that’s who he is,” she said. “He really inspired us, his attitude, and the next day the song kind of just wrote itself.” 
The group is presently a duo. 
“We do intend to have other players,” Turgeon said. For live shows, loops and backing tracks are employed to expand their sound. The recently released video of “Brush It Off” is a good example of this, a Pat Benatar-styled rocker with Turgeon’s keyboards and Cunningham’s slashing guitar licks backed by taped drums and bass.
There are plans to employ even more effects down the road. 
“It opens up a lot of sounds that you could never get live,” Cunningham said. “A string section at True Brew Barista is something you could never do. If you find players who can work with that kind of thing, it’s good for the audience.”
The next scheduled appearance after True Brew happens Memorial Day weekend at the Red Door, a Portsmouth nightclub with plenty of indie cachet. Their ballad “Every Moment” was recently added to Women of Substance Radio, a California-based national podcast, and they’ll soon be on the playlist of WomenInCharg3. The latter is, according to its website, “a music  radio station for female indie artist of all genres … promoting girl power.” 
Though it’s challenging at times, Turgeon and Cunningham continue to release a song a week. DIY equals do it all for the pair, including management. 
“We write when the music presents itself,” Cunningham said; an EP should arrive later in the year. “Right now we’re booking the shows, prepping the material, we’re really busy in that way. There’s not enough creative time. … Our plan is to keep on writing as the music inspires us.” 
As seen in the April 2, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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