We’re jazzed that Wayne and The Boys were able to reschedule their storm-stayed show!
Local legend Wayne Nicholson – along with The Gin House Boys: Kim Dunn, Bill Stevenson, James Logan, Neil Robertson and Jamie Gatti – celebrates the release of a killer new album, Gin House, with a show at The Carleton on Sunday, February 18th. Show time is 7 PM and tickets are $25 + HST.
In the tradition of the great rock and blues vocalists over the decades, Wayne Nicholson deserves a seat at the table with blues rockers like Paul Rodgers, Steve Marriott, Jim Morrison and David Clayton Thomas. A cheeky or bold faced statement? Not at all.
Gifted with a great set of pipes, Nicholson has long been recognized on the East Coast of Canada as the preeminent blues-rock voice for several well known groups, including Horse and the Oakley Band. Singer, songwriter, producer, musician, frontman, volunteer and go-to guy are just a few of the admirable traits attributed to Wayne. Criss-crossing Canada more than a few times along the way and opening for iconic acts like Ike & Tine Turner, J. Geils Band, James Gang, Doobie Bros and April Wine, he left his mark wherever he played and impressed many with his command, humour and infectious stage presence.
Hailing from Plymouth, Nova Scotia (in the New Glasgow area of Pictou County) Wayne grew up in a house full of music and was heavily influenced by the early blues and torch singers like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey , as well as powerhouses like Big Mama Thornton, Louis Armstrong, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Mississippi John Hurt, Leadbelly and the list goes on. By the time the British Invasion was in full swing, Wayne began to get noticed for his vocal ability locally by the older guys in bands, who were always on the hunt for a good vocalist.
Horse was next, a blues-jazz fusion style band akin to Chicago/Jethro Tull/Santana. Wayne played a lot of flute (a la Ian Anderson) as well as singing lead with this experimental group who were quite frankly ahead of their time. Relocating to Truro, Horse was where he really came into his own as a songwriter and fronting a group of seasoned musicians during the first half of the 70s. He is perhaps best known as the voice and frontman to Ritchie Oakley’s high energy band of outlaws – Oakley (1977-82). This group took a back seat to no one and the songwriting combination of Wayne & Ritchie launched them to the next level. Management and legal issues ultimately torpedoed the group, with only one of three recorded albums seeing the light of day. In the end he decided to do it his way and run solo uphill, simply calling his act – Nicholson.
Three great albums were released during the 1990s, and throughout the 2000s Nicholson continued to play live and record at a pace that for him, that was conducive to the times and the interest. The Jim Gaines produced Playin’ It Cool album was a refreshing and welcome slice of Nicholson blues interspersed with stylings that more than upheld his pedigree. There was a 10 yr gap between Cool and the Wayne and James Logan produced Diggin The Dirt, which featured his longtime Eastenders band, then came a reckoning and collaboration with local slide great John Campbelljohn. Elmore’s Blues put them both back on the blues heritage charts worldwide and that album continues to sell and receive airplay all over the four corners. Elmore’s Blues is a tribute to the legend Elmore James and is a tour de force effort that has reinvigorated Wayne by returning him to national prominence on the blues roots fellowship. Some things are still alive and well, as Johnny Winter and Rick Derringer said so eloquently.
Which brings us to 2023 and the new album. For his 7th solo effort – recorded at Joel Plaskett’s Fang studios in Dartmouth, Wayne Nicholson has scaled the summit once again and comes charging back at the top of his game. The team has gone to the well on this one and recorded a great new album entitled Gin House, which may turn out to be a watershed moment for Wayne & co. Bookending the album with fast and slow versions of Nina Simone’s take on Gin House Blues is stroke of genius. Steve Mariner’s harp drives on the ZZ Top like former and Bill Stevenson’s earthy piano on the later and take these title track(s) to a pride of place. What we’ve got is a remarkable Tony D produced collection of 11 cohesive tracks (including 8 Nicholson penned originals) that features a crack band of local Halifax, N.S. musical veterans – Bruce Dixon, Neal Robertson, Kim Dunn and Bill Stephenson. The added bonus support from the Monkey Junk team of Steve Mariner (harp) and Tony D (guitar) helps take these sessions to another level. Nothing like adding another layer of experience and taste if it enhances the project, which is most certainly the case. Kudos must also be given to longtime guitarist, producer and writing partner James Logan for his collaboration on the Gin House project. His involvement cannot be understated.
Wayne Nicholson has undeniably earned his stripes on the Canadian shield’s rock and blues landscape. Although he may be a best kept secret to some, those who know…..definitely know. Gin House is your opportunity to hear one of Canada’s finest singer songwriters do what he does best.