About Johnny Nicholas
Often referred to as a ‘bluesman,’ to classify Johnny Nicholas as strictly a blues artist is quite a misnomer. Nicholas’ signature style of music might be better defined as deep roots music. His musical roots grow deep and wide – spanning the many musical traditions found across the country. Drawing from the wealth of musical influences found in areas such as Chicago, Louisiana and Texas – Nicholas’ original music stirs together elements of folk, blues, western-swing, jazz, Cajun and country. While his dexterity on the guitar, husky growl of a baritone, and talent on the 88’s make him well at home in the world of blues and jazz, Nicholas’ skill as a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and performer of authentic Americana music is not to be understated.
Over his career, Nicholas has worked with such a diverse mix of artists and bands as Asleep at the Wheel, Boogie Woogie Red, Johnny Shines, Duke Robillard, Robert Lockwood Jr., Nathan Abshire, Dewey Balfa, Link Davis Jr., Walter Horton, Hubert Sumlin, Los Texmaniacs, Marcia Ball, David Abeyta and many more. 2018 saw the re-release (and Grammy-nomination) of Nicholas’ debut album Too Many Bad Habits as a special double vinyl box set. 2019 took Nicholas overseas to both Hawaii and France – as well as on multiple east coast and west coast tours in addition to touring regularly around his home state of Texas. Still showing no signs of slowing down in 2020, you can catch Johnny Nicholas at your favorite listening rooms, dance halls and festivals across the country. With several album projects in the pipeline, fans can only expect more original deep roots music from the incomparable Johnny Nicholas.
“Hands down, this is the closest thing to the work of the old Masters that I have heard in ages. Then again, it comes as no surprise, as Johnny Nicholas has toured and recorded with a virtual “Who’s Who” of the blues including Mississippi Fred McDowell, Robert Lockwood Jr, Johnny Shines, Big Walter Horton, Roosevelt Sykes, Nathan Abshire, Robert Pete Williams, Eddie Taylor, Hound Dog Taylor, Johnny Young, Houston Stackhouse and Boogie Woogie Red… This is an album that should, if there is and justice or a God in heaven, win multiple Handy Awards. As things stand at this moment, this would be my top pick for the year. There are elements of many of Johnny’s influences on the album…but it all ties into the blues. This belongs in the collection of every music lover.”
“He’s someone who cares about being real, and the hell with everything else. Those roads usually take him to the blues, but it’s in his own self-reliant way how he gets there which makes for all the fun. These new recordings feel like someone finding their way to the top of the mountain where everything they touch turns true. Nicholas has recorded with all the great bluesmen of the past 50 years, in the process becoming one of them.”
Bill Bentley’s Bandstand
The Morton Report
“A profound sense of knowhow — besides the ultra-cool entertainment — permeates every element of “Fresh Air.” But the ultimate masterpiece here arrives mid-disc, with “Play Me (Like You Play Your Guitar),” a swamp-funky display that calls to mind Tony Joe White at his lyrical best. Nicholas co-wrote the song with the esteemed songwriter Gary Nicholson, and it revolves around the line “I wish you would play me like you play your guitar.” Enough said. That many great riffs, phrases, and scruffy vocals and guitar in one song, alone confirms this as the comeback album of the year.”
“Johnny Nicholas shines on this latest CD which includes 11 songs written or co-written by the Austin, Texas-based artist… Though everything on Fresh Air is rooted in the blues, there’s also more than a hint of rock and roll in most of the tracks and especially in the rollicking “Red Light,” where the piano work echoes Jerry Lee Lewis. Good stuff, from first track to last.”
“What an aptly named album. From it’s opening harmonica pushes and pulls, Johnny Nicholas’ latest, Fresh Air, is a breath of soul-sustaining sound . . . With the variety of styles offered, it easily seems like two dozen sublime songs. Whether rockin’, stompin’, wheezin’, confessin’, convincin’ or lullabyin’, these songs use as many emotional approaches as there are reasons to share the blues. Austin-based Nicholas, a consummate musician (on this album he is featured on vocals, piano, harmonica and guitar) and a master storyteller, excels in every style. What’s more—the many parts fit nicely together, creating an inviting map of the blues, with Nicholas as guide. …he is still finding new ways to reach audiences who want to boogie. He is a legend in the making and this album is many breaths of fresh air put to damn good use.”
“Try listening on headphones to best appreciate the guitar work of Nicholas, Newcomb and Cashdollar as they meld together. This is real roots music from a master.”
“His is a brand of Americana that eschews commercial country trappings for the real thing: a roots based rock’n’roll electric blues aesthetic that hits all the right notes involving the listener in his stories and melodies. His 13 songs hit all the right bases from Mississippi delta blues and electric Chicago blues to Louisiana Cajun romps.”
“Fresh Air is one helluva CD, as fresh, smart-ass, down-home, humorous, invigorating, nasty, ribald, and drop-dead authentic as grits, chitlins, and bacon grease . . . Then there are the cuts with sweet, tender, or hilarious falsetto lines tossed in for coloration. And don’t pass by them thar ditties that are about as risqué as you can get without being banned from the air, penned by a masterful hand knowing how to dance on the edge, grinning.”
“Everything Nicholas touches turns to gold as the singer and multi-instrumentalist adds deep soul and a down home feeling to each and every song. Fresh Air is just that, as this legend in his spare time hits it out of the park.”
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Johnny Nicholas has spent a lifetime soaking up the flavor of such vibrant music scenes as Chicago, Southwest Louisiana and Texas (which he’s called home now for 40 plus years). His music is full-spectrum Americana — a rich gumbo of blues, cajun, swing, and barrelhouse rock ’n’ roll. He is a consummate songwriter, as well as a gifted vocalist and multi instrumentalist.
His collaborations with musical soulmate and longtime friend Cindy Cashdollar are not to be missed. Cindy and Johnny both served time-good time (though not at the same time) with Texas’ premier western swing band, the legendary Asleep at the Wheel.
Cindy is one of the all time great steel guitar players who, in addition to her well known associations with Bob Dylan, Levon Helm, Rod Stewart and many others, has won multiple awards and recognitions including several Grammys. Her Slide Show album is a masterpiece which showcases her prowess both on her instrumental numbers as well as in the company of Johnny, Marcia Ball, Sonny Landreth and other musical luminaries.
The addition of co-conspirator Scrappy Jud Newcomb is the icing on this already delectable musical cake. Scrappy is arguably the best guitarist and accompanist in Austin today and his Mandolin playing is stunning and soulful. He has an Austin musical pedigree second to none. His long time stint with Rock and Roll hall of famer Ian McLagen being but one of the many musical affiliations of note on his resume.
The three of them worked together in Johnny’s band Hell Bent for six years before Cindy moved back to Woodstock recently. Join this trio of gifted Americana music greats for an unforgettable night of music and ‘troubadoric’ ramblings.
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