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When asked how they first met and formed their duo, Nation of Two, now-married musicians Jessee Havey and Nathaniel Good immediately look at each other, their faces very nearly turning into the real-life equivalent of the heart-eyes emoji.

"We were at our friend’s place — she had people over and said I really had to meet him," Havey explains.

"There is a real sense of community here and it’s refreshing, it’s nice." –Nathaniel Good

"They said the same thing to me about you," Good adds with a chuckle. 

It should be noted the aforementioned friend’s place was in Florida, where Good was living at the time and where Winnipeg-based Havey had performed at a festival with her then-band, the Duhks (who won a Grammy Award in 2005 and were nominated again in 2007).

The two hit it off, and over the span of a few years, their strong friendship developed into a full-fledged, long-distance romance. 

"It felt like a really long time (doing long-distance) but it wasn’t that long," Havey says with a laugh. "I was living with my folks at the time and my dad would make fun of me because I was constantly on FaceTime; like, it was attached to me."

It was during that time that Havey and Good began writing the songs that would end up on their debut EP as Nation of Two, Spirit and Mind — four of the five tracks on the record are essentially love letters to each other, while the fifth, It’s About Time, was finished by Good last year, just in time for them to perform the track together at their wedding reception here in Winnipeg, where they now live together.

Good, a West Virginia native, has lived in Winnipeg for about 18 months, but says it felt like an obvious decision to choose the city as their home base. He was taken aback by the local music scene almost immediately. 

"I was blown away by the music community here. Almost every time I go out I see someone who is absolutely talented... There is a real sense of community here and it’s refreshing, it’s nice," he says.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Nathaniel Good and Jessee Havey, of the local folk duo Nation of Two, began writing songs while dating long distance. They’re now married and living in Winnipeg.</p>

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Nathaniel Good and Jessee Havey, of the local folk duo Nation of Two, began writing songs while dating long distance. They’re now married and living in Winnipeg.

"One of the first shows I went to when I got here was at Times Change(d); we went to see Jaxon Haldane, and he said something that kind of summed it up for me. I think he had just come back to Winnipeg after being in the States for a while... but he said something to the effect of, ‘I’ve been all over the place and as far as talent goes, I come back to Winnipeg to get my ass kicked.’ I’m consistently impressed by people here."

Nation of Two will be taking the stage at the next Free Press Sunday Brunch Collective on Dec. 17. Havey says they will, of course, run through the tracks on Spirit and Mind, but are also armed with a collection of songs they’ve yet to record, as well as a host of cover tunes they’ve been sliding into their sets over the past year.

"Something else about him coming into the music scene, there have been a few, either tribute shows or collective shows — I think four or five now — but just these shows where it’s all these different artists, either playing music on a theme or covering, and that’s been just such a cool way for him to be embraced and meet people," says Havey, who has been an active musician in Winnipeg for more than a decade and now also works at the West End Cultural Centre as the community outreach, fundraising and sponsorship co-ordinator.

"It’s a great way for me to introduce myself and immerse myself in the local music scene," says Good. "It was sort of overwhelming at first — a jumbled mess of names and faces in my head and I’m constantly trying to connect the dots. But I think I’m getting better."

 

erin.lebar@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @NireRabel

Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Multimedia producer

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

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