Although Johnny Nicholas’ career as an artist is well documented, his connection with South Louisiana music and culture and the influence it had on his storied musical career is not as well known.
After finishing school, Johnny hit the road hitchhiking and hopping freight trains in search of the artists and music he loved. His pilgrimages led him to experiences and relationships with many American music roots legends of the blues, western swing, honky-tonk music, and the melting pot for it all: South Louisiana and Southeast Texas.
This album is a homecoming, bringing him back to the place where he cut his teeth and grew up musically on the prairies and bayou country of Southwest Louisiana in the ’70s. Link Davis Jr (son of the legendary ‘Papa’ Link Davis) brought him to Basile and introduced him to Nathan Abshire who lived behind the Bear Cat lounge on Highway 190.
The Basile routine went something like this: play music every night with Link, Nathan and ofttimes Dewey Balfa (who worked at a furniture store nearby), pull some mattresses down off the wall in a room behind the bar and sleep, get up and walk back to Mr Nathan and his wife Ola’s tiny house behind the club to drink coffee and visit, return to the Bearcat where Jeanette Comeaux would be fixing rice and ‘something’, post up with Nathan out front and start drinking and playing music informally with anyone who stopped by and then get ready for the evening’s show to start. Next day same as the last and on and on—Honky Tonk heaven!
“My friend Johnny Nicholas writes and sings from way down inside, and plays every instrument with grit and grace. His talent is deep and wide, like his soul and his heart. And he has some songs that slay me. Just slay me.”
– Walt Wilkins 2016 –
“Johnny learned from some of the same guys I did
and he sings and plays the real down home blues!”
– BB KING, 1976 –
“Guitar Johnny Nicholas is a bad mother______!”
– Jimmie Vaughan –
Although the artistic career of former Asleep at the Wheel frontman Johnny Nicholas’ is well documented, his connection with South Louisiana music and culture and the influence it had on his storied musical career is not as well known. We’re happy to be a part of helping tell this story.
“Johnny Nicholas is one of the best bluesmen ever, black or white.”
– Stephen Bruton –
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