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Monday, June 17, 2024

Music from the pandemic: how a three-day trip to Halifax turned into four months for Nat Osborn

The Carleton presents Nat Osborn and Darren Mastropaolo in a belated release concert featuring songs from Mastropaolo's Louder Than Your Lions and Osborn's The Quarry Island Sessions.

When New York-based singer-songwriter and composer Nat Osborn came to Halifax in March of 2020 to visit his long-time friend and fellow musician Darren Mastropaolo and Mastropaolo’s then-girlfriend Caroline Fraser, he never expected that his three-day visit would turn into a four-month stay. But that is precisely what happened as Osborn arrived just as the pandemic began to shut down the world.

“That flight turned out to be one of the last out of New York, and I got stranded in Nova Scotia,” says Osborn by email. “That three-day weekend turned into an unexpected four months where I was taken in by Caroline’s family up in Pictou County.”

Taking the opportunity to complete Mastropaolo’s EP Louder Than Your Lions as producer, Osborn also set to work writing and producing a song a week for the duration of his time in quarantine with Mastropaolo, Fraser and her family.

The result is Osborn’s The Quarry Island Sessions, an 11-song album recorded over 11 weeks named after the island in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, that served as the inspiration and incubator for the project.

Born out of the pandemic, Nat Osborn & Darren Mastropaolo perform a belated release concert from their albums.
Born out of the pandemic, Nat Osborn & Darren Mastropaolo perform a belated release concert from their respective albums.

It is also an album that took full advantage of what Osborn calls “musical oddities” found at the Fraser homestead while in quarantine. Among them were a century-old upright piano, a 1970s theatre organ, percussion instruments collected over decades from across the world, an autoharp that wouldn’t stay tuned, and a flute that had been sitting in its case for twenty years.

Osborn also collaborated with the Fraser family and remotely with fellow musicians in lockdown back in New York City to complete that album which “unfolds as a sort of musical diary, telling stories of the early months of the 2020 pandemic.”

While Osborn released The Quarry Island Sessions and Mastropaolo released Louder Than Your Lions in 2011, their show at The Carleton in Halifax reunites them in a “belated release concert.”

The Carleton (1685 Argyle St, Halifax) presents Nat Osborn and Darren Mastropaolo on May 10. Visit for tickets and information.

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