Rowdy Piper and the artier side of life
Roddy Nesbitt leads a double life. By day he’s an excess casualty broker; at night he’s Rowdy Piper, boisterous singer with DIA.
“Sometimes it feels like both are alter egos with ‘me’ tucked in somewhere between but I try to be myself regardless,” the 39-year-old said. “I’m known to be quite passionate at times negotiating insurance deals too and utilise some of the same skills when performing on stage.
“I feel blessed to have found a way to have a successful career in business while enjoying the artier side of life.”
Although there are those who are able, it isn’t easy to make a living playing music in Bermuda, Mr Nesbitt said.
He created Enygma Productions to promote live music events.
The first, Live & Direct, takes place tomorrow at Blue Waters Anglers Club.
“A lot of folks aren’t familiar with the club,” he said. “It has been a best-kept secret for some folks, for a while. A beautiful setting happens right down there on the dock if the weather is permitting.”
The night will kick off with an instrumental set; Rowdy Piper will then take the stage.
“It will be energetic and multigenred with touches of jazz, funk, soul and a few mash-ups,” Mr Nesbitt said. “The live set is a good mix of reggae, hip-hop, soca, afro funk and rock.
“We do try to take it all over the map and make sure that everyone is satisfied. The island has been craving live music.”
He loved rap music and watching professional wrestling on TV as a child.
At Elliot Primary School, friends started calling him “Rowdy Piper” as a nod to his hero, Roderick George Toombs, who performed as “Rowdy Roddy Piper”.
His first public performance was at 7. Teacher Dorothy Trott had heard him rap and insisted he do it before the entire school. “The reaction from the teachers and children in assembly that morning was tremendous,” he said. “I was half-shocked, half-amazed, but in my memory the whole place shook.
“The wave of emotions, from the stage fright, to the adrenalin rush, to the euphoria of hearing the crowd go up, I was hooked immediately and still get the same feelings when I perform.
“I am not particularly shy on the microphone. I enjoy the feedback and interaction you get from operating with the band and seeing how that affects the crowd out front.
“That is a very cool feeling to be a part of that. You give your energy to the crowd and they reciprocate.”
He started performing regularly in his late teens, eventually attending the world’s largest gathering for his music genre — Jack The Rapper conventions.
“Some of the best advice I got was that you have to do it for the passion and for the love it and for the sheer appreciation of the natural gifts and talents you have been blessed with,” he said.
He met the members of Devils Isle Audio at one of Chewstick’s open mic nights and joined the band a decade ago.
“The beautiful thing about connecting with these guys is it helped me to evolve from being a hip-hop artist to being a multi-genre artist,” he said. “I perform a lot of reggae covers, old-school lovers’ rock, afro beat, afro funk and R&B. It has been great that way, just to branch out.”
In 2015, he dropped a soca song with DIA called CrossFit which is available on SoundCloud.
“The song was written when CrossFit [the fitness regimen] was increasing in popularity on the island and the music video was shot at CrossFitBDA at Mill Creek,” he said. “The lyrics are definitely inspired by the movement.”
It helped that DIA’s musicians are “multitalented” he said, highlighting bassist Derek Simmons Jr’s skills as a producer and engineer on the song.
Mr Nesbitt will be backed tomorrow by Mr Simmons, Scarlet Thomas on drums, Tino “Sax” Martinez on saxophone, Leroy Francis on keys and Dino Richie on guitar.
He’s selling tickets “hand to hand” rather than online.
“I’m doing it on a personal level,” he said. “Tino Sax hosted a show a couple of months ago and inspired this initiative. It’s a good way to develop a relationship with the people coming out. I have sold a good handful so far.”
• Live & Direct starts at 9pm tomorrow at Blue Waters Anglers Club. Get tickets for $20 on 536-3694 or at the door for $30. Follow Devils Isle Audio on Instagram @DIA.bermuda. For future performances: D.I.A.Bermuda@gmail.com