Friday Night Headliner

Chicago-born Moss to
show off his soulful sound

His parents helped develop
his musical taste at early age

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(August 2012) – Nick Moss has learned his craft well by playing with many great blues artists – Jimmy Rogers, Jimmy Dawkins, and the Legendary Blues Band, which featured Muddy Water’s band alumnus, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith. From those experiences he has absorbed the energy and creativity that has molded him into a blues icon in his own right.

Nick Moss

Photo provided

Nick Moss performs everything from
funkadelic to
hard core blues.

Born in 1969, Moss grew up around Chicago, the great hub of the blues movement. “But it took a while for me to realize that,” he said of the importance of Chicago to blues music during an August telephone interview. He grew up hearing about Muddy Waters and other great Chicago blues artists, and this forced him to “explore my own backyard” in terms of blues music.
Also instrumental to his career has been his parents. “They nurtured my brother and me at a young age,” he said. “They introduced my brother and me to a lot of music growing up and encouraged us to play instruments.”
Moss credits his uncle with introducing him to what he termed “more modern stuff,” such as the British Invasion bands. Moss’ parents listened to a variety of music, including Big Band and R&B.
Another positive influence was AM radio. “They played so many different kinds of stuff,” said Moss.
As a result of this musical upbringing, he has spent a “good amount of time playing the hard-core, traditional Chicago blues,” he said. But over the years, Moss has evolved the outcome into a more modern sound which includes funk, soul and rock as well.
Moss will perform as the Friday, Aug. 17, headliner at the Madison Ribberfest’s Blues Bash. He will take the stage at 10 p.m.
Moss is “unburdened by the clichés and expectations of the blues-rock style that often serve as an obstacle to musicians,” said music critic The Rev. Keith A. Gordon. “Moss has taken to the form like a duck to water, but on his own terms and with fresh ideas as to the execution of the music.”
“I knew music would be a part of my life at an early age,” Moss said. As a small child, he distinctly remembers hearing a song from the R&B or blues world that his mother was listening to that “sent electricity through my body.”
As a sign of his true talent as a musician, Moss doesn’t hear music first; rather, he feels it. “Then I hear it and that’s how I know it’s good.”
For him, blues music “has feeling and soul to it. It comes directly from the person singing or playing it. They’re giving back what they know. I’ve chased blues all my life.”
Moss didn’t waste time looking for the right recording label. He confidently established his own label, Blue Bella Records, to produce his artistic vision.
“It was a vehicle for me to get my music out,” he said. “It began spinning in the right direction, and eventually I added other artists to my label.”
Moss launched his own band, The Flip Tops, in the late ’90s and their second and third album releases received W.C. Handy award nominations. Moss said his band is capable of performing everything from funkadelic to hard-core traditional blues music.
With his seventh album, “Live at Chan’s,” Moss garnered several award nominations and turned many heads. This CD, recorded at a Rhode Island club, reflected the spontaneity of his band’s live performance and the rare opportunity to hear Moss at his best as each member, including Moss, took turns playing different instruments throughout the performance.
Blues Revue said of “Live at Chan’s:” “(Moss’) approach to this music makes him arguably the most exciting young blues player on the scene today.” So successful was this album that Moss released a second “Live at Chan’s: Combo Platter No. 2,” featuring Lurrie Bell.
When it comes to composing music, Moss said, “I respect artists that draw inspiration from what they know. When I write, it generally has to do with how I’m feeling; stuff that I know about first-hand.”
His daughter, Sadie Mae, was the inspiration for his fourth studio album. It was nominated in two categories for a 2006 Blues Music Award: “Album of the Year” and “Traditional Blues Album of the Year.”
Moss said things such as “my wife and daughter, past relationships, the current state of affairs,” all influence him when composing his music.
Last year Moss released his latest CD, “Here I Am.” It affected not just his fans but those in the industry as well. Fellow blues singer and guitarist Jimmy Thackery said of it, “The tunes on ‘Here I Am’ are genuine and intense.”
Brian Holland wrote on BluesBlast.com that, “An interesting aspect about this album is that although it seems like a big change for Nick Moss at first listen, it has a tendency to grow on you quickly, to the point of sounding emphatically like another Nick Moss blues gem.”
Gordon summed up this latest effort by saying, “ ‘Here I Am’ is a stunning, electrifying, and entertaining collection that places Moss at the forefront of today’s blues-rock scene. Exploring, and often exploding the boundaries of the style, Moss has staked his claim as an innovator, creating new possibilities not only for blues-rock guitar but for the music altogether.”

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