Revisiting America's Music: Pat Nichols
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Lawrence bluesman Pat Nichols made some new fans this spring when he kicked off the Library’s ambitious America’s Music series at the Plaza Branch.
It was blues night, and Nichols began the evening by serenading patrons at the pre-event reception. Later he wowed the crowd with a display of picking on the National steel guitar.
Now Nichols has released a CD of performances, Blues from the Delta and Beyond, that was recorded earlier this year at producer Mike West’s recording studio in a former garage in Lawrence.
“Normally when you cut a record you pick the songs in advance and work on them during recording until you have them just right,” Nichols said.
“We did it differently. It was a lot like the early blues recordings in the 1920s and ‘30s where the producer would have these bluesmen perform a song two or three times and, later on, the record company would pick one version to release.”
Nichols said that over an 11-hour recording session he played a big chunk of his repertoire with virtually no advance planning.
“If a first take was good, we kept it and moved on to something else,” he said. “If by the third take it wasn’t making the grade, we’d try a different song. The idea was for my producer to pick out the very best cuts. Some of the songs that ended up on the CD were those I’d have chosen ahead of time to put on CD. Others weren’t.”
Songs on Blues from the Delta… range from the traditional (“St. James Infirmary Blues,” “Walking Blues”) and a Willie Dixon classic (“Little Red Rooster”) to three tunes penned by California-based bluesman Kenny Sultan.
And Nichols contributes three of his originals: “Kansas City Blues,” “Boogie Woogie Dance,” and “Bad Luck With Women,” the latter an amusing lament about a guy whose romantic choices are always wrong:
Well that woman I got is mean as can be
I got a house full of children don’t look like me
Bad Luck, yeah, that’s bad luck
I got bad luck with women, happens all the time.
Nichols says the CD soon will be available through Amazon.com and iTunes. If you can’t wait, contact him at email@example.com. And you can check out patnicholsblues.com or Pat Nichols Country Blues on Facebook.
About the Author
Robert W. Butler is a lifelong Kansas City area resident, a graduate of Shawnee Mission East High School and the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. For several decades he was the movie editor of the Kansas City Star; he now writes a movie-themed blog at butlerscinemascene.com. He joined the Library's Public Affairs team in 2012.