Willie Nelson Mandela is not your typical cover band. First, you will immediately notice the attire, each member wearing vintage powder blue blazers. Next, you will notice the high energy stage show: professional musicians faithfully recreating a wide range of songs from almost all of rock history. You won't just want to dance, you'll also want to dig that lava lamp out of your closet when you get home. Though Willie Nelson Mandela is based in Columbus, you can find them playing throughout central Ohio and beyond.
Formed by five friends in a hazy college apartment circa 2004 near Capital University, their journey has taken them many places since. After playing the bar and house party circuit early on, the band went its separate ways, only reuniting for a few select gigs from time to time. At one point, three members had European mailing addresses. There were also wedding gigs, other lineups, and even 2 EP’s of original music released in 2011 and 2014. But the cover band still had to exist. Original members Tom Davis (guitar, vocals), Zach Mayo (guitar, vocals), and Nate Shaw (keys, vocals) needed to get back to basics. When Tom and Nate returned from the U.K., they resumed performing all across the Midwest in various bands. There they found Brian Moore (drums). At that point, rounding out the rhythm section was easy, calling on Andrew Fredrick (bass), whose brother James was WNM’s original lead singer.