Though he may not yet be internationally known, to an ever-widening group of musicians and music fans in and around New York and the Twin Cities, the name Dan Nicholson has become synonymous with one of the most promising American singer-songwriting talents to come down the pipe in a long while. Combining detailed songcraft with his impassioned, buzz-creating live performances, Nicholson seems intent on building a foundation of quality work sturdy enough to be the basis of a long and successful career.
And make no mistake, the 32-year-old Nicholson has had nothing free handed to him since he began writing and performing professionally at age 16. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Nicholson’s parents steered him toward music as a way to avoid the mean streets. After cutting his teeth in two different bands through high school, in 1999 a 19-year-old Nicholson released Realer Than Real, a 12-song LP written and performed almost completely by himself. The album was produced by Mike Ferrara and recorded at Brooklyn’s legendary Fast Lane Studios.
The next year saw Nicholson’s newest work garner high acclaim from the Songwriters’ Hall Of Fame. “Just To Get Close To You,” a song he’d penned for DeSilva Nicholson, the acoustic duo he was part of at the time, caught the attention of SHOF Projects’ Director Bob Leone. The song (and it’s single) would subsequently earn Nicholson a time slot at a SHOF-sponsored industry showcase; a two-song gig that opened the door to a full-length showcase the next month. In 2004 however, Nicholson abruptly switched gears and left his beloved hometown of Brooklyn, NY, eventually settling in Minneapolis, MN. Some of his strongest songs ever followed soon after, aptly collected on The Minneapolis Years, Nicholson’s 2010 release and second full-length LP. The album featured standout tracks like “Coming Home,” “Goner,” “Don’t Try” and “Last Of The Bicycle Songs” and stealthily dismissed any notions that Nicholson had been spinning his wheels in the decade between his first and second release.
Last spring, Nicholson found himself performing in a St, Paul, MN, art gallery, accompanying himself on piano for an entire show for the very first time; he favored the crowd at Casa Alacran Gallery with a blistering 30-song, two-hour set. And a series of shows in and around New York City this past fall were described by many as some of Nicholson’s very finest live performances ever – frenzied mania and raw emotion coupled with an equal helping of soulful, subtle vocal and guitar work.. Coincidentally, many of Nicholson’s finest-ever songs have found a home on Leaving The Rest Unsaid, a 14-song collection that Nicholson will release next month. Several longtime concert favorites are finally given their due on this new album, such as the poignant “Promise To You” and the funereal stomp “Bring The Whip.” Alongside them, newer but no-less-classic tracks like “Demon Called Woman,” “Transmissions From A Far-Off Land,” and the title track quickly remind us that Nicholson’s power as a songwriter and performer continue to grow and evolve. With rock solid songcraft, an ear for melody, and his super-intense live performances, it’s beginning to look like Dan Nicholson won’t be out of the public eye for much longer.
“Brow-beaten and broken-down, Clark Paterson sat on a cold steel bench shaking his head under the ‘Deportation’ sign of London’s Heathrow Airport early one Thursday-morning-gone-wrong. Guitar strumming along in hand… this wasn’t how he envisioned his first British-gig going. Without the ‘right’ music visa, he found himself awaiting the next flight back across the Atlantic, courtesy of The Queen. “I came to Europe to play some good music and share a lil’ piece of my ‘American Dream,” he said. “All I got back, was handed my walkin’ papers and shoved on home.”