Nat Baldwin’s music career has been as varied as it has been successful. He was a student of legendary composer Anthony Braxton. He’s been the bassist for The Dirty Projectors since 2005. He’s also released a handful of solo albums, including the new People Changes (due on May 24th on Western Vinyl). But how does the fact that he was the MVP of the New England Class C basketball tournament when he was in middle school fit in with all of that? Well, that award was on the front cover of his previous album, Most Valuable Player. Likewise, the video for his newest single, “Weights,” was shot on a Brooklyn basketball court. As it turns out, Baldwin loves the game as much as he loves music, and he sees the two as linked. Prior to tonight’s show at First Unitarian Church—and while he was driving from Charlottesville, VA, to Annapolis, MD, for a Cinco De Mayo cookout—The Key spoke with Baldwin about the connection between music and sports, the indie-music basketball scene, and the playoff struggles of his beloved Boston Celtics.
The Key: The Celtics are down 2-0 to The Miami Heat. Any thoughts or predictions?
Nat Baldwin: They’re looking kind of beat up right now. But I’m excited that they’re going back home on Saturday. Yeah, I’m hoping they can get it back—but the Heat are looking tough.
TK: You think the Celtics have a shot?
NB: I’m a little nervous about it.
TK: Wow. You always sound so confident about them in interviews.
NB: Regardless of how loyal and dedicated a fan I am, I think—when you’re looking at any team with as much experience as the Celtics—you can never rule them out. A lot of people are saying they’re done, but the Heat just protected their home court, which is what they’re supposed to do. Hopefully the Celtics will be able to do the same, and we’ll be able to steal one in Miami. We’ll see. I’m definitely not ruling them out. It was a tough couple of games.
TK: You have any thoughts on the Sixers?
NB: I like the Sixers. They have a cool young team. I like Doug Collins a lot as a coach. I like [Andre] Iguodala. He was actually on my fantasy team for a little while.
TK: Are you a big fantasy sports player? How did you do this year?
NB: I didn’t do that great. I wasn’t terrible. This was my first year doing it. I really liked it. It kind of took over my life. [Laughs.] But it’s fun.
TK: The album cover for the new record, People Changes, is a picture of you shirtless and holding a basketball. Was that contrived, or were you really walking around shirtless, with a basketball, in an overgrown court?
NB: It was contrived. [Laughs.] I wanted to do some kind of portrait shot and I was in Chicago with my friend David Sampson, who’s an awesome musician and photographer. We were walking around and we found that weird little field in Chicago. We snuck through a fence to get in there and just started taking some photos. And we actually found the basketball in the field. So that was just a sign. That had to be included in the photo. And of course we did a bunch of different kinds of ones. The idea wasn’t for it to be a shirtless photo. We had a bunch of different options. That one seemed to work the best. It just sort of made it weirder and that’s why we chose that one. It was fun to do.Dirty Projectors, First Unitarian Church, Nat Baldwin, R5 Productions