About Johnny Nicholas

Time is a river and you can never step in the same river twice. It’s all gonna change, but what came before shapes what comes after. There are certain people who seem to be in both places at once.

Johnny Nicholas has played music and rambled with some of the most original and artistically powerful individuals of the American 20th century.

just to name a few…..

Big Walter Horton, Mississippi Fred Macdowell, Koko Taylor, Jimmie Vaughan, Nathan Abshire, Houston Stackhouse, Carol Fran, Lightnin Slim, Roosevelt Sykes, Arthur ‘big boy’ Crudup, BB King, Bonnie Rait, S.P. Leary, Marcia Ball, Lazy Lester, Snooky Pryor, Robert jr. Lockwood and Johnny Shines.

music, myths, trains and rivers.

they’re all a journey.

in the individual sense and in the greater continuum.

Johnny’s live performances and the music on his nine solo albums attest to this journey along these age old paths. there’s no way that they couldn’t be with the life that he’s led and the people he’s known.

As I said, there are people who seem to be able to stand in two places at once. Where they are now and where it all began. Destroy the illusion of time and live in the truths that spoke to you as a child. the sounds of the summer night, the train whistle and the open tuned guitar. surely you are there at least as much as  you are here.

Johnny will take you there every time he takes the stage.

More Information


Mistaken Identity Reviews

“………Johnny Nicholas doesn’t get many headlines, but he is arguably one of the most important roots artists over the past five decades. Any time he releases an album, it should be a “must listen” occasion. You’ve often heard the term triple threat or even quadruple threat associated with both athletes and musicians. Yet, we could think of Johnny Nicholas as a triple regional catalyst, a term that is rare indeed…..”

Glide Magazine

“Johnny Nicholas has created a new album that has all the instant familiarity of real American life while having a mystique that is difficult to put your finger on.”

American Highways

“The songs are warm and weathered, filled with an experience that supports the ease in which Johnny releases each verse.”

Disciples of Sound

“Songs such as the intriguingly titled “Guadalupe’s Prayer” feel like unearthed jewels, immensely old and yet newly discovered, shining in the sun and scattered with a little honest dirt and grit. When Nicholas sings of “people’s dreams of freedom from oppression” and “crying angels” the lines are delivered with what used to be called “soul”. There’s more than a little frivolous fun here, too. “Tight Pants” delivers its hilarious message with all the wicked good humor of AC/DC. Nicholas’ wit coupled with the band’s top-class playing transform what could have been a throw-away into a tremendous rocking work-out, a wild, rollicking jam stuffed full of addictive licks and rolls.”

Rock and Blues Magazine

“…If one were to describe the Johnny Nicholas sound on this album, imagine combining the character in Watermelon Slim’s voice with the deep songwriting of John Hiatt, dropped in a bucket with that old blues singer whose name is just on the tip of your tongue….”  

American Highways

“Throw in guitar virtuoso ‘Scrappy’ Jud Newcomb, recipient of multiple ‘Bass Player Of The Year’ awards, Chris Maresh, the wonderful drummer John Chipman and a host of top-flight backing players and you get the sense that something special might just have gone down here. First cut “She Stole My Mojo” certainly bears that out.  A delightfully playful, lyrically witty blues-rocker, the track occupies a territory somewhere between Muddy Waters and the Rolling Stones, yet with a distinctly Southern-country twist.”

Rock and Blues Muse Magazine

“A “something for everyone” kind of album, Johnny Nicholas’ “Mistaken Identity” never fails to inspire.”

Tahoe on Stage

“Nicholas projects an authenticity that is hard to define but is immediately recognizable as coming from a man who knows his way around a song and how to lead a band. It takes a lot of sand to sing about the hard-learned lessons of life and displays an amount of grit that should not be taken lightly. Nicholas does this while seamlessly mixing together a spicy gumbo of musical styles and instrumentation that is quintessential Americana.”  

American Highways

“There is a curious sort of organic quality to Mistaken Identity. The late Mississippi Fred McDowell used to call his brand of deep rural blues “straight ‘n’ natural.” This isn’t deep rural blues, but it’s a true sound, and it’s kind to your soul.”


“Johnny Nicholas doesn’t get many headlines, but he is arguably one of the most important roots artists over the past five decades. Any time he releases an album, it should be a “must listen” occasion.”

Glide Magazine

““Full Circle” could be the title for this record but Mistaken Identity is appropriate enough. Sit back and let it all wash over you: great musicianship, storytelling and melodies, all filtered down through the experiences of a true troubadour and cooked up as a gumbo that will leave your musical taste buds wanting more.”

Ellmore Magazine

“… ‘Mistaken Identity’ unfolds like select chapters in Nicholas’ musical life, captured with warm heart, and skilled, enthusiastic drive. Nicholas sings in a worn-leather voice full of character…”

Tahoe on Stage

“… ‘Mistaken Identity’ unfolds like select chapters in Nicholas’ musical life, captured with warm heart, and skilled, enthusiastic drive. Nicholas sings in a worn-leather voice full of character…”

Tahoe on Stage

“……Proficient on guitar, piano, harmonica and more, Nicholas is also a great vocalist, an incredible songwriter, and one hell of a storyteller.  I was so impressed with this album that I revisited a dozen of his earlier works, from Big Walter, Snooky Pryor & Johnny Shines, Asleep At The Wheel, and his solo work.  As I listened, that common thread became clear.  His love for the music transcends all boundaries.  Looking back, I guess the same could be said for all the greats…..”

Reflections in Blue

Fresh Air Reviews

“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.”

Bill Wilson
Reflections in Blue

“ “Fresh Air” is a fascinating journey through the better roots music and is an absolute must!”

Lucy Meert
Roots Time Belgium

“It is always an event for us when Johnny Nicholas has a new album.  A talented multi-instrumentalist and engaging singer, his latest is truly a shot of “Fresh Air!”

Sheryl and Don Crow
The Nashville Blues Society

“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.”  

Tom Clarke
Tahoe Onstage

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.” 

Jeff Burger
No Depression, The Morton Report

“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.”

Greg Victor

“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.” 

Jim Hynes Elmore Magazine

“An ode to blue collar work on the pipeline paired with a solid, nod-your-head, jammy sort of groove makes “Blues Time” a definite highlight of the record. … this record satisfies even the finicky of blues appetites with ease. Rating: Bad-Ass”

Lauren Rosier
That Music Mag

“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.”

Mike Greenblatt

“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.”

Mark Tucker
Veritas Vampires

“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.”

Blues Junction Productions

Johnny Nicholas Press Photos

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Johnny Nicholas and Cindy Cashdollar

with Scrappy Jud Newcomb

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.

Johnny Nicholas with Los Texmaniacs

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