Make no mistake: Johnny Nicholas knows from the blues. His credentials? Impeccable. Conviction? Immeasurable. And chops? If an instrument’s got strings, keys, or reeds he can play the hell out of it. He’s also a consummate songwriter and a great singer blessed with a warm, toasty growl of a voice that can roll from rumble to croon and back again with seductive ease.
Marcia Ball calls Nicholas “an extremely engaging innovative traditionalist” who “writes instant classics and sings them to break your heart and rock your soul.” But the key word there is “innovative,” because as deep as his roots go — and we’re talking about a cat who learned firsthand from the likes of Robert Lockwood Jr., Howlin’ Wolf, Big Walter Horton, and Johnny Shines (to name but a few of the legends he studied under early in his five-decade career) — Nicholas does not paint in one color.