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The Nields: Wikis


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The Nields were a folk-rock band who performed from 1991 to 2001. They toured much of the United States, performing with artists such as Dar Williams, Moxy Früvous, and Catie Curtis, and appearing at many folk festivals. Two members, Katryna and Nerissa Nields, continue to tour as a folk duo.

Katryna Nields at 2005 New Bedford Summerfest. Photogaraph by Thom C.
Nerissa Nields at 2005 New Bedford Summerfest. Photogaraph by Thom C.


History of the band

The first incarnation of what would later become the Nields came together in 1987 in McLean, Virginia, when Nerissa Nields met David Jones, a theater student, and the two of them started a band with Nerissa's sister Katryna. Their repertoire consisted of two original songs (which would later show up on the first two Nields albums) and two covers, For What It's Worth by Buffalo Springfield and Oh, Sister by Bob Dylan. Like many bands formed on a whim, this one did not last long: after two weeks, the group was no more. Unlike many such bands, this was not the end of their musical careers together.

In 1991, Katryna, Nerissa, and David were living together in a house in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Since their initial meeting, Katryna had graduated from Trinity College in Connecticut, Nerissa had graduated from Yale University where she founded the singing group Tangled Up In Blue, and David and Nerissa had gotten married. David was now known as David Nields, having taken his wife's name when he got married: he thought there were already too many musicians named David Jones. He may also have been inspired by the example of the Ramones, where each member of the group adopted the last name 'Ramone'.

By now, the threesome was performing together as the Nields, with Katryna as the lead singer, Nerissa playing rhythm guitar and singing harmony, and David Nields on lead guitar. In 1992, the three of them moved to Connecticut, where David had accepted a job at the Loomis Chaffee School, and the band recorded its first album, the self-released 66 Hoxsey Street. The album was named for the house in Williamstown where they had previously lived. The band began to tour New England in earnest, earning a reputation in the regional folk music scene. In 1993, they released a live album titled Live at the Iron Horse Music Hall, recorded at the popular folk club in Northampton, Massachusetts.

1994 proved to be a watershed year for the Nields, with the band changing from a three-piece folk group to a five-piece rock band. The new members of the band were Dave Chalfant (bass), who Katryna had met in college, and Dave Hower (drums), a friend of Dave Chalfant's. Dave Chalfant also produced the band's album released that year, Bob on the Ceiling, which was named for a friend of Katryna's. This album featured a mix of the acoustic material that the Nields had previously specialized in and a more rock-oriented sound that would become their trademark. With their new sound, the Nields received critical acclaim, and quit their day jobs to become full-time musicians.

Their 1995 EP Abigail, named for Katryna and Nerissa's sister, would be the last self-released Nields album. In 1996, they released Gotta Get Over Greta on the independent Razor & Tie record label. The album was re-released in 1997 with three bonus tracks on Guardian, a division of Elektra Records. The group felt that with a major-label deal, they were on the brink of superstardom: they had a considerable grassroots following, and a mailing list that had tens of thousands of names and was growing continuously.

Unfortunately, the group suffered a number of setbacks the next year. Guardian folded, leaving them without a record label, and their tour van (nicknamed Moby) was growing increasingly unreliable. While they needed a new van urgently, their financial situation made it impossible for them to afford one. To raise money for the van, they self-released an album called Mousse (the nickname for Dave Chalfant's sister Andromache) and held a special 'Jam for the Van' concert where they debuted that album. As a result of that concert, the Nields were able to purchase a new van, which they nicknamed Nessie. They were also able to secure a new label, Zoë, a division of Rounder Records. All Nields records released since, except one, have been released on that label. Over the next three years, the Nields released two more records (Play and If You Lived Here You'd Be Home Now), and in 1999 Katryna Nields and Dave Chalfant got married, becoming the second married couple in the band after Nerissa and David Nields.

Although the band enjoyed a moderate degree of success, they remained in the red fiscally due to the high expenses they incurred (salaries for the band members, salaries for their manager, maintaining their van, lodging, etc.). Furthermore, the group was getting older, and people wanted to settle down and start families. The limits of what could been done in a 3-minute pop song also rankled some, who wanted to explore deeper themes. The combination of these factors led to the band's breakup in 2001. Their final album, released that same year, was a two-disc album titled Live From Northampton. Like their 1993 album, it was recorded at the Iron Horse Music Hall, and was self-released by the band.

Shortly after the breakup of the band, David and Nerissa Nields were divorced.

Katryna and Nerissa Nields as a duo

In 1998, Katryna and Nerissa were invited to play Lilith Fair as a duo, without the other (male) members of the band. The performances were successful, and the two sisters performed several more shows together in areas where the full band had not previously been able to tour. Dar Williams dubbed this the "probe effect," a reference to Star Trek's Enterprise sending a probe to unexplored areas.

By 2001, shows by the full band were increasingly rare, as Katryna and Nerissa toured mostly by themselves. In mid-2001, Katryna took some time off to have a baby, Amelia. Afterwards, she and Nerissa recorded their first album as a duo, titled Love and China, followed by an EP of children's songs,Songs for Amelia. In 2004, they released their second full album, This Town is Wrong. In 2005, Nerissa's young adult novel, Plastic Angel, was published by Scholastic Books. This Town Is Wrong was intended as a soundtrack to the novel, which came packaged with a CD containing the songs "This Town Is Wrong" and "Glow-In-The-Dark Plastic Angel" from the album. Also in 2005, Katryna had her second child, William.

Current status

Katryna and Nerissa continue to make music and perform together. They have continued touring as a duo, although they have occasionally performed shows as a full band. In their 'full-band' shows, they are joined by Dave Hower or Lorne Entress on drums, Paul Kochanski on bass, and Dave Chalfant on guitar. In July 2007, they released a duo album, "Sister Holler."

In addition to making music, Nerissa has been teaching guitar, leading writing workshops, and working on a second novel, titled The Big Idea. In May 2005, she was married to a writer named Tom Duffy. On May 3, 2006, Nerissa gave birth to her first child, Lila Mary Nields-Duffy. John Patrick Thomas Nields-Duffy followed on August 23, 2008.

In November 2004, Katryna gave birth to her second child, a son named William John Chalfant. Following her son's birth, she began a six-month break from touring.

Dave Hower is married and plays drums with a variety of bands, including Winterpills, Spanish for Hitchhiking, and The Fucking Sparklies.

Dave Chalfant has opened a recording studio and produced albums by a number of artists.

David Nields was the director of the Williston Theater and 12th grade English teacher at The Williston Northampton School in Easthampton, Ma.


  • 66 Hoxsey Street (1992, out of print)
  • Live at the Iron Horse Music Hall (1993, out of print)
  • Bob on the Ceiling (1994)
  • Abigail (1995, EP)
  • Gotta Get Over Greta (1996)
  • Gotta Get Over Greta (re-release) (1997)
  • 'Mousse (1998)
  • Play (1998)
  • If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home Now (2000)
  • Live From Northampton (2001)
  • Love and China (2001, Katryna and Nerissa Nields)
  • This Town is Wrong (2004, Katryna and Nerissa Nields)
  • Songs for Amelia (2004, Katryna and Nerissa Nields, EP, children's album)
  • All Together Singing In The Kitchen (2006) (family album)

A lifelong dream of Nerissa and Katryna's, this is a CD full of the songs they learned from their father when they were kids. This album is the first to return to "The Nields" moniker since "Live From Northampton."

  • Sister Holler (2007, Katryna and Nerissa Nields)
  • Rock All Day, Rock All Night (2008)


  • Nields, Nerissa (2005). Plastic Angel. New York (Scholastic Books). ISBN 0-439-70913-X
  • Nields, Nerissa (2008). How To Be an Adult. (Mercy House). ISBN 0-977-04546-3

External links



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