About Johnny Nicholas

Johnny Nicholas feels the music, from blues to rock and everything in between. 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. 

As befits a soul who’s spent a lifetime soaking up the flavor of such vibrant music scenes as Ann Arbor(in the early 70’s), Chicago, South Louisiana and Texas (which he’s called home now for nearly 40 years), his music is full-spectrum Americana — a rich gumbo of not just blues, but cajun, western swing, honky tonk and barrelhouse rock ’n’ roll.

As an artist and performer he can mesmerize a listening room crowd or bring a festival crowd to their feet with his rollicking boogie woogie piano and his stellar band.

For proof, just take a listen to Nicholas’ most recent  eclectic collection of original American roots music, 2021’s Mistaken Identity on Valcour Records which finds him drawing on all of the above and deep into his soul for words of wit, wisdom, and heart. As the esteemed writer Bill Bentley puts it best, “He’s someone who cares about being real, and the hell with everything else … .”

“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…is constantly expanding the legacy of rhythm and blues with his music.

– Marcia Ball 


Johnny Nicholas & Katie Shore

Johnny and Katie began playing music at an unlikely time. In May of 2020, both were faced with the challenge of finding ways to play music during the pandemic when touring wasn’t possible. Both having strong ties to Asleep at the Wheel, and both living in the Hill Country of central Texas, it was a very exciting prospect. Johnny’s iconic Texas road house and live music venue, Hill Top Cafe, became the perfect outlet for them to collaborate. The duo quickly cultivated a vast array of American Roots music, from original tunes, blues to swamp pop and swing to gospel. The show that this duet brings to the stage is always a memorable experience. 

The Honky Tonk Dreamers

The Dreamers are a big slice of pure old school Texas/Louisiana honky tonk heaven. The band grew out of the critically acclaimed Moon Mullican tribute album project and has morphed into a monthly staple at the Sagebrush, an old, re-vitalized south Austin dance hall that has become one of that city’s top spots for dancing and honky tonkin’ in general. 

This side project is the perfect vehicle to showcase Johnny’s love and expertise in playing hard core, rockin’ tunes  from western swing to waltzes and two steps to groovy jump blues and South Louisiana rock and roll: classic dance hall music at it’s very best.

The Honky Tonk Dreamers features Asleep at the Wheel alumni Johnny, Floyd Domino, Katie Shore and Danny Levin along with Austin stalwarts Scrappy Jud Newcomb, Chris Maresh and Karen Biller.

The Hidden Charms

If you dig classic electric Blues, old-school R&B, South Louisiana Soul and rockin’ jump blues delivered with a fresh, high energy stage presence, then look no further than the Hidden Charms.

Original compositions and interpretations delivered by a master of these genres and his smokin’ band from Austin, Texas featuring Scrappy Jud Newcomb (Guitar), Chris Maresh (Bass) and Damien Llanes (Drums).

As Johnny’s earliest influences and inspirations simmer seductively and boil over into raucous outbursts of joyful toe-tappin’ boogie woogie, you may rest assured: the dance floor will be full.