Marnie & Nate
Acoustic duos demonstrate how simplicity can offer abundance. Coming up on 25 years of experience playing together, Marnie & Nate possess the talent and tools to entertain, endure, and expand. Between Marnie Lengle’s impressive vocals, Nate Kennedy’s guitar skills, and an overarching passion for music, Marnie & Nate give incredible performances that appear effortless as they also play an integral part in the local music community.
They say practice makes perfect and these two have been practicing music for decades, with experience in multiple musical groups before and after they came together. “I’ve been in bands and playing out since I turned 20 years old, I’ve never stopped,” says Marnie, and Nate stated that he began playing guitar in eighth grade.
Marnie and Nate have family ties to South Jersey beach towns Cape May and Stone Harbor. They both had musical backgrounds, with Marnie singing in bands in college and Nate attending Berklee School of Music in Boston. Both began gigging separately while summering in Stone Harbor.
Their paths crossed thanks to Marnie’s to-be husband Pete Lengle, who introduced the two back in 1998. Their early gigs playing as a unit included Coffee Talk in Stone Harbor (where Taylor Swift was known to frequently play in her youth), Fred’s Tavern, The Windrift, The Concord, all in Stone Harbor, and the Ugly Mug in Cape May. Their influences and favorite artists to cover include Eric Clapton, Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers Band, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, and more classic rock and oldies favorites.
As time went on their musical, professional, and personal lives evolved. Marnie is now coordinator for the Stone Harbor Chamber of Commerce and owns Barrier Island Books & Art alongside her husband Pete with locations in both Stone Harbor and Cape May. They have two daughters, the older of whom, Parker, is a gifted musician who takes after her mother with her natural performance talents. Nate is currently a painting contractor in Avalon and Stone Harbor. While they maintain their day jobs, they stay heavily involved in the music scene.
“In October of 2016, I produced my first show at Harbor Square Theatre, featuring musicians on 7 Mile Island,” says Marnie on the remarkable strides she made to create space and connection for local musicians. “There was a great reaction from the audience, and I just kept coming up with ideas for collaborative concerts. Over four years I produced 28 shows.”
Through the shows at Harbor Square, Marnie teamed up with Stan Sperlak of The Sperlak Gallery & Sculpture Gardens to host musical events on his exquisite property location. This created opportunity during the challenging times presented in 2020: “When the pandemic hit, the theater concerts came to a halt, and so did pretty much all indoor live music. Many of our musician friends were out of work. Stan and I brainstormed, along with our friend Tom Naglee, about safely recording a live album at the barn and selling the CDs to benefit musicians.
“We recorded in March with 19 musicians,” Marnie said. “We kept our distance, masked when we weren’t singing, and in May we premiered the double album at our Songs from the Barn Festival. Three hundred people showed up and supported us. Proceeds from the CD sales and the festival, which we now have every November, have helped over a dozen of our beloved musician friends and their families.”
Marnie built upon this event, saying “We collaborate on approximately five or six shows a year – usually fall through spring. It’s the most creative playground you can imagine. I feel so lucky to have such support from Stan and from our musician friends. Most importantly, the music lovers who come to the shows. There’s a lot of love and joy for all of us.”
With so much success behind them, they have plenty more in store for the future. “We’re starting a ‘Songwriters in the Round’ series at the barn. “The first one will be September 30th featuring five of our area’s songwriters: Chris GS, Hannah Stone, John Langston, Gordon Vincent, and Patty Blee,” said Marnie. You can stay updated with these events at sperlakgallery.com.
Marnie & Nate perform at cherished community events like the Garden Concert Series which takes place at Arts & Soul Studio, and at the West Cape May Farmers Market. They also banded together with local talent Jeff Hebron to create a group they call The Yokels. You can see this singing and strumming duo light up many local spots – keep up with them on Instagram @marnieandnate and on Facebook under “Marnie & Nate.”