Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Interview with Sam Andrew from Big Brother & The Holding Company

big brother and the holding company Evolving out of the San Francisco rock scene of the 1960s, Big Brother was in the forefront of the psychedelic music movement.

The band was formed by Peter Albin, Sam Andrew, James Gurley and Chuck Jones in San Francisco, in a Victorian mansion/boarding house owned by Peter's uncle at 1090 Page Street in the Haight-Ashbury. That house became the site of Wednesday night jam sessions which were organized by Chet Helms who was the real "Big Brother," naming the band, bringing James Gurley into the fold and later seeing that his old friend Janis Joplin came to sing with them.The first official Big Brother gig was at the Open Theater in Berkeley, January 1966. Within a short time they became the house band for Chet at the Avalon Ballroom and began to develop a loyal following, largely due to the charismatic, pioneering guitar work of James Gurley. The band had what Sam Andrew called a "progressive-regressive hurricane blues style," playing such tunes as Hall of the Mountain King, Coo Coo, That's How Strong My Love Is, and Down On Me. (from

big brother and the holding company

Big Brother & The Holding Company 2005 w/ Sophia Ramos

Cincy Groove: So how did Big Brother first end up getting together?

Sam Andrew: I was walking down the street one day in San Francisco and heard some guitar playing coming out of a window. It turns out it was Peter Albin, who plays bass in Big Brother. It sounded really good so I told him "Lets start a band". So we started playing together every week, sometimes more frequently than that. Over the course of a year we evolved into a band. We were very well known in the San Francisco music scene before Janis came on board. But after she arrived we really started having fun.

Cincy Groove: During 1972-1987 when Big Brother & The Holding Company wasn't together, what were you doing musically?

Sam Andrew: I went back to New York and studied music at a couple really good schools with some great teachers. Studied things like harmony, counter point, and wrote a lot of classical music. Also in that time frame before Big Brother got back together, I went to Seattle and became a father, got married and settled down for a while.

big brother and the holding companyCincy Groove: Who brought up the idea of Big Brother & The Holding Company getting back together in 1987?

Sam Andrew: There was this promoter who called us who asked us to play this 20 year anniversary of the Summer of Love gig he was putting together.

Cincy Groove: How many of the original members are currently touring in the band?

Sam Andrew: There are 3 of us from the original band, and we will usually pick up another guitar player and a female vocalist when we go out on tour. I have about 10 different singers that I can call to come out and play with us depending on what part of the country we are performing in. We will be in the Ohio area performing in August and will have a great singer playing with us. She is Mary Bridget Davies and Ben Nieves is a guitar player from Cleveland, OH. Ben is definitely a better guitar player than me, James or anyone else in Kozmic Blues or Full Tilt.

You can't really compare anyone to Janis because she is unique just like Billie Holiday or Tina Turner. Janis is one of those people you can't copy without being ridiculous. What we end up getting are some really strong singers with a great sense of self.

Read the full interview here

Interview with Willy Morren from Daughters and Sons

willy morren, daughters and sons, cincinnati musicWilly Morren from Daughters and Sons sat down with Cincy Groove to let us know about the origins of Daughters and Sons, the bands plan for a full length LP, and what music influenced him early in his musical career. Daughters and Sons next show is June 28 2008 at the Adjust Your Eyes Festival taking place at the Southgate House.

Cincy Groove: How long has Daughters and Sons been together?

Willy Morren: Well with all the players we have right now its been about 5 months. It took us a year before that to get to the point where we are now. We started as a 3 piece and we weren't happy with that at all. We desperately wanted some keyboards and some horns. We also were thinking about the flute, oboe. If you ever hear the theme song from the tv show Beretta, you'll hear how flute and funk are forever linked in my mind.

Cincy Groove: Were you in any bands before Daughters and Sons?

Willy Morren: I was in a band called Nitty Irvings Family. Nitty was my nickname for the longest time and still is, I can't seem to get rid of it. Then I took a random last name and we went out as Nitty Irvings Family. Basically a 3 piece Hendrix type band. It was something I did to keep me busy. My love has always been with funk. I grew up listening to Sly & The Family Stone, The Commodores, Earth Wind and Fire, thats all I listened to as well as everyone on my block.

So with Daughters and Sons I think we are very unique, some of our songs are hard to classify. Someone described our song "Noah's Arcade" as Prince singing for Creedance Clearwater Revival. Find a bin for that in the record store.

daughters and sons, cincinnati music

Cincy Groove: Does Daughters and Sons have a cd yet?

Willy Morren: We have been handing out a 4 song EP to get people interested. That was just a nightmare to make. That was a sound on sound digital extravaganza (laughing). We had a limited number of tracks with which to work with. But we have had people come up to us and compliment on the recording.

We are actually getting ready to lay down the basic tracks for our first full length cd today. We are hoping to have something ready by Christmas. We still have a lot of writing to do. At least I feel that the set list we have at the moment has a lot of those Noah's Arcade type songs and is kind of light on the get down Saturday night funk type songs. But we do have a song, "Hell Today" thats pretty hardcore groove. As well as a song called "Just Your Song" that definitely is in the style and spirit of Sly Stone. Our set is just a little bit nicer than we want it to be. We want some songs that are a little more gritty. We are focusing on putting together at least an hour of asphalt funk (laughing).

Read the full Interview here

Monday, June 23, 2008

Interview with Beth Cheek from The Fairmount Girls and Lovely Crash

June 23, 2008

Interview by Scott Preston

Photos by Scott Preston, Matt Witherspoon

beth wilson, fairmount girls, lovely crash, cincinnati musicA veteran of the Cincinnati music scene, Beth Cheek, is getting ready for The Fairmount Girls cd release this Friday June 27 at Northside Tavern. Beth also let me in on whats going on with Lovely Crash, how she got her start in music and the ever popular Pop Rocks benefit concert which is in the planning stages as we speak.

Cincy Groove: So I understand the Fairmount Girls are having a cd release show this month? is the cd all finished?

Beth: Yes it going to be June 27 at Northside Tavern. The cd is all finished.

Cincy Groove: How long have The Fairmount Girls been together?

Beth: To tell you the truth I'm not really sure. I think I'm like the 16th person to be in the band. There have been some good incarnations and some not so good. This group we have now is really good and we have been getting some positive feedback. The kind of weird thing with this group is that everyone in the Fairmount Girls right now is also in their own bands. When this group first came together we were all very strong players in our own bands, so it took a little while for us to all meld together. I'm really happy with how we all groove together.

The group now is myself (Lovely Crash) Pat Hennessey (Tiger Lillies), Randy Cheek (The Ass Ponys), Melissa Fairmount (The Thirteens, My Wife the Tiger), and Dana Hamblen (Culture Queer). All those bands are very different and very strong. So its something we spent a lot of time on bringing all of those influences together.

fairmount girls, cincinnati music

Fairmount Girls - photo by Matt Witherspoon

Cincy Groove: Do you remember the name of the first band you were ever in?

Beth: Yes, it was Perfect Jewish Couple. It was actually one of the first bands in Cincinnati to use tape loops and synthesizers. This was back in 1981, I was going to the University of Cincinnati at the time. My roommate Shari Lauter was in Perfect Jewish Couple and they recorded a lot at the house. I started doing some recording with her and background vocals and then she asked me is I wanted to start playing with them. The other person in the group was Kelly Hale and I had grown up with him in West Chester.

Read the full Interview here

Photos - Jon Justice Band, 6.22.08, Fraze Pavilion, Kettering, OH

jon justice, blues, cincinnati music

Photos - Jon Justice Band, 6.22.08, Fraze Pavilion, Kettering, OH

Jon Justice Band -

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Interview with Cathy Guthrie and Amy Nelson from Folk Uke

June 18, 2008

Interview by Scott Preston

folk uke, cathy guthrie, amy nelsonFolk Uke is an eclectic acoustic folk duo comprised of Cathy Guthrie and Amy Nelson featuring perfectly melded harmonies and sharp, often biting wit. We were inspired by many of the agreeable greats of the Folk, Country, and Americana genres. Our favorite chords are C, F, and G. So, if you’d like to play along, well, it’s that easy. Of our infamous families, the two of us had been the musical holdouts until we gave into the force and began writing and playing music together. Armed with a ukulele and a guitar, we penned songs such as ‘Shit Makes the Flowers Grow’, ‘Knock Me Up’, and ‘Motherfucker Got Fucked Up’ and we thought, “What a crime it would be to keep these national treasures to ourselves. How can we keep silent when we are the voice of a nation?” You may not hear us on the radio, since our songs have been described as “inappropriate”, “off-color”, “not ready for mainstream” and “NSFW”(Not Safe For Work). Our debut EP, ‘Folk Uke’, is self-titled, as are we. It was produced by Abe Guthrie and ourselves. “Family values” would be the common chord in this unprecedented collection of songs, since we let our Dads take the solos and chime in when they were compelled to do so. It was the least we could do for our executive producers. It made them feel good and that made us feel good; so we took the chance that it would make thousands of people feel good and we printed thousands of copies. - Cathy Guthrie and Amy Nelson

Cincy Groove: So how long have the two of you been together performing?

Amy Nelson: I think about 8 years, we started in 2000.

Cathy Guthrie: It was kind of a joke why we started playing.

Cincy Groove: Who are some of your influences?

Amy Nelson: We are both really big fans of The Jayhawks. We are really big fans of the way they harmonize and their writing.

Cathy Guthrie: We both grew up listening to our dads play. Obviously my dad (Arlo Guthrie) is a big influence. Some others are Pete Seeger, Leadbelly. I grew up listening to all the folkies. Amy was listening to all the country groups.

Amy Nelson: Yeah, I was listening to Roger Miller, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash.

folk uke, cathy guthrie, amy nelson

Cincy Groove: Are you two working on a new cd?

Amy Nelson: We aren't actively recording a new cd but we are actively writing for a new record. We both have so many other things going on that when we get a chance we try to get together and work on some new stuff. We have random shows here and there. We aren't the most organized (laughing)

Read the full interview here

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Interview with Anna Laube

June 16, 2008

Interview by Scott Preston

Photos by Cooper Carras

anna laubeAnna Laube’s (pronounced "Lau" like "how" and "be" like "to be or not to be") pan-genre (country/blues/Americana/indie) folk music is, in the words of one her critics, "Acoustic, atmospheric, wide open, and western. Dirt covered highways and the setting sun" ( It’s simple and relaxed, derived as much from the American folk-troubadour tradition as it is from neo-indie-folkies like Ani Difranco and Cat Power.

Born in Iowa City, IA, a place replete with roots musicians, Anna began taking classical piano lessons at age three, and later studied some boogie woogie tunes with David Zollo (Greg Brown, Bo Ramsey, Todd Snider). She took up saxophone, oboe and violin in secondary school, and after moving to Madison, WI, picked up the guitar at age 14 after hearing a rendition of The Indigo Girls’ song, "Ghost."

Like a rolling stone...Anna continued to develop as a songwriter and headed to sunny California. Her debut album, "Outta My Head," is self-produced, recorded in Bay Area living rooms and in the studio with Birger Olsen of Town Rill, Nick Moran, and Jason Quever of The Papercuts. Engineered, mixed and mastered by Mark Whitcomb and Jason Quever, the album has received both national and international airplay. Currently available directly from her record label, Gingko Records, at Google Checkout, or on iTunes, Cdbaby, or Amazon, "Outta My Head" is a great introduction to Anna Laube's unique voice. Anna is currently working on her sophomore album, entitled “Love Is Your Destiny,” due out in 2009. (from

anna laubeCincy Groove: So are you recording a new cd?

Anna Laube: Kind of, I did some recording back in December and I hope to do some more in July when I go out to the Northwest and then the west coast. There is a player out there I want to do some recording with. Its not going particularly quickly. I'm not really worried about the slow pace at all, I'm just trying to take my time with the next one. Besides I feel my first record is still getting out there.

Cincy Groove: Whats the recording process been like so far with what you have done for your next record?

Anna Laube: There hasn't been much of a process yet. I just took one day with three other people into the studio and laid down a bunch of live tracks. I will probably use some of what we recorded, but I also think I might do what I did the first record. Just being in my living room, really low key, with just a computer, microphone and see what happens.

Read the full interview here

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Interview with Jeff Black

June 12, 2008

Interview by Scott Preston

jeff blackAs anyone who's seen his moving, funny, and unpredictable concerts already knows, Jeff Black never plays the same show twice, pulling from his commercial catalog Birmingham Road Arista 1998 Honey And Salt Blue Rose 2003, B-Sides And Confessions Volume One Dualtone 2003," and the new music on Tin Lily, he responds to the moment and to whatever voodoo is floating through the air shared by a unique collection of people on any given night with the stories and songs that transcend the role of a singer/songwriter and his instrument. What makes a Jeff Black record or show exciting is that, as a listener, you know the singer is there not to perform for you, but to take you on a journey with him.

Cincy Groove: So I understand you are in the studio right now?

Jeff Black: Yeah, just doing some pre production work on some stuff, getting it ready for the next record. I don't really have a studio per say, just a room with all the equipment I need. I can make some pretty rough stuff, but its nice to have everything all set up so all I have to do is come in here and record.

Cincy Groove: So I guess you could say your in the early stages of a new record?

Jeff Black: I guess the early stages for me would be right after you release the old one, then you start working on new songs. Most of the songs are written, I'm just playing them out live and finding out which ones want to live together.

Cincy Groove: I see how you used to be a road warrior, touring constantly and then your priorities changed when you got married and had a kid.

Jeff Black: Around the turn of the century I just took on a whole new attachment to everything. I moved to Nashville and spent the 90's with my head down pretty much chasing the dream. Then I started thinking about everything that was affecting me , I lost my dad in 1999, actually a couple people in my family. Then I met my wife and then all of a sudden here comes some new itty bitty people (laughing). I'm really just trying to stay on the course that I'm on, and I'm not really sure what that is most of the time. I never came to Nashville to become a country music songwriter or to become a country artist. It made sense to me to come to Nashville because of the business side, New York and L.A. just seemed out of reach to me at the time.

Read the full Interview here

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Artist of the Month - June 2008 - Kelly Thomas & The Fabulous Pickups

kelly Thomas & The Pickups

Kelly's a sister-girl. Talk to her for five minutes and she'll have gleaned your deepest secrets, summed up your love life and put you to work at the door for one of her gigs. Her animated, thought-a-second style of interaction is evidence of an overflowing plate.

Working full time as a social worker, it might seem logical to call her music a side gig, but that's hardly an apt description. She organizes the Rivertown Music Club (which she began with her old band, Second Sister), a regular showcase at various local venues featuring a spectrum of artists, including her own act, Kelly Thomas & the Fabulous Pick-ups. (source- City Beat, 5.31.06)

Kelly Thomas & The Fabulous Pickups - Website

Kelly Thomas- Vocals, cute shoes
Sharon Udoh- Keyboards, Vocals
Jerry Hedge- Pedal Steel
Jeff Boling "J-Bling"- Guitar
John "Flathead" Beddinghaus- Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Chris "Hipshot" Perrault- Bass
Paulie Ellis- Drums

Interview with Chris Gangi from Cornmeal

June 9, 2008

Interview by Scott Preston

cornmealCornmeal continues to forge a path all their own, pushing the boundaries of bluegrass, Americana and folk for a whole new generation of music lovers. Steeped in the tradition of musical acts such as Old and in the Way, John Hartford, and New Grass Revival, Cornmeal has proven to be an influential presence in the world of roots music. Cornmeal has consistently evolved its sound and stage performance using bluegrass as a springboard for long improvisational work and songs ranging from country, rock and blues to jazz, funk and disco.

Heavily influenced by American roots and folk music, Cornmeal was started as a side project over seven years ago only to watch it grow into a Chicago institution. Known for their vast musical repertoire, lightning fast tempos, and impeccable harmonies, the five-piece acoustic-electric band prides itself on the energy it puts forth each night creating an unrivalled live performance that continues to shape itself into a truly unique experience. (from

Cincy Groove: How did it feel to win the Jammy award for New Groove?

Chris Gangi: We were all pretty excited about it. We have been touring for a long time, pretty much keeping it to the midwest. But with something like this happening it really opens things up for us nationally.

Cincy Groove: Did the band get to jam with anyone at The Jammys?

Chris Gangi: Our fiddle player, Allie Kral got to jam with some people. We were on the road at the time, so we flew her out to the Jammys while we were still touring. Allie got to sit in with Tea Leaf Green, Big Head Todd, Warren Haynes.

Cincy Groove: How many shows does Cornmeal play in a year?

Chris Gangi: It ranges anywhere from 130 - 160 shows a year. Like I said earlier we are expanding to more of a national market now so that number is starting to creep up pretty quickly. Its one of those things, when you are a musician, its hard to turn down work because you never know when your next paying gig is going to be. You just can't take anything for granted in this business. We just feel fortunate to be able to play and have a good time doing it.

cornmeal, bluegrass

Cincy Groove: How did Cornmeal first get together?

Chris Gangi: There was three of us in the beginning, we were playing in a more jam rock oriented group and we had started talking about starting an acoustic side project. Basically if your in a band looking to hire other musicians, you can't hire anyone until you have something to offer them. If you don't have any gigs yet, nobody is going to bother with you. So we went out and got a wed night gig at a small pub here in Chicago. So then it was a lot easier to say "Why don't you come down and sit in with us?" The other original two guys aren't in the band anymore, but we have assembled a very solid lineup over the years.

Read the full Interview here

Monday, June 9, 2008

Interview with jazz singer Stephanie Browning

stephanie browning, jazz singer, chicagoStephanie Browning made a name for herself as the Artist-in-residence at the world renowned Gold Star Sardine Bar, a listening room reminiscent of Paris in the '30s. The venue was an international gem and captivated audiences assisted Stephanie in honing her improvisational skills and soulful voice. During her two-year tenure she performed for celebrities and European royalty, as well as many a love struck couple out to make a memorable night.

While The Gold Star is gone, fans and listeners are lucky to have a beautiful snapshot of one night in its romantic and magical life with Stephanie Browning's CD "Live at the Gold Star." Made in single takes, without manipulation, the recording is as bare and revealing as the mirrored stage from which Stephanie and the band transport the listener into the spot-lit club. Many have found themselves so caught up that they applaud right along with the recorded audience for Stephanie and the grooves and tasty solos of pianist Jeremy Kahn, bassist Larry Kohut and drummer Joel Spencer (you can purchase your own copy of the CD at

Since that time, Stephanie has been featured at the Chicago area's most notable jazz clubs, including Andy's, The Green Mill, Pete Millers, Pops for Champagne, as well as many others.

Cincy Groove: Are you based out of Chicago?

Stephanie Browning: I am, I have been in Chicago since 1991. I was born and raised in Colorado, its a lovely state but there's not much to do there for a jazz singer. Although, because there is such a great standard of living there, a lot of high level, professional musicians live there. When I first started singing in Colorado, somebody came up to me after one of my gigs and said to me "You got a lot of talent kid, but you will never get any better unless you work with musicians who are better than you." So I thought "Let me see who is around". It turned out Carmen McRae's rhythm section lived in Denver. Right around that time she was having some medical issues and canceled her summer tour. So the next gigs that I booked, I booked Carmen McRae's rhythm section. That was one of the scariest things I have ever done. But that just shows you what kind of talent there is in Denver.

stephanie browning, jazz singer, chicago

This was 17 years ago, but now I hear that have a lot more of a jazz scene there. But at the time there was no way I could do the number of gigs I needed to do to get better, so I moved to Chicago. Chicago gave me the chance to do a thousand gigs, make a thousand mistakes and learn from every one of them.

Read the full interview here

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Interview with Nancy Josephson from The Angel Band

June 5, 2008

Interview by Scott Preston

angel band, nancy josephsonAngel Band makes big noise. Loud noise. Boisterous, sad, sweet, goofy, glorious and angelic. Any which way you look at it this stuff gets your attention. Whether it’s the crazy tight three part harmony, the killer backup playing, the stories, the passion or the compassion, it gets your attention. The songs on this album are mostly self-penned, weaving vivid images, powerful lyrics, musical integrity and “chops” to write home about. The core of the band is held by the three singers: Nancy Josephson, Jen Schonwald and Kathleen Weber. All are experienced on lead and backup vocals. The love of the sound that three female voices make together is at the center of this group. The chord rules the day. Both mystical and elemental when the three hit “it” the hair on the back of your neck’s gonna stand up. (from

Cincy Groove: How did the three of you end up getting together?

Nancy Josephson: This particular lineup has been together for about a year and a half. Angel Band started about 3 years ago. As things shifted in the lineup, the group got stronger and stronger until finally we have this group. I found Jen through a friend of ours Gene Shay, who is a local folk radio icon who has a show on Folk Alley and has been in Philadelphia for forever. He suggested Jen and she came on board 2 1/2 years ago. Kathleen joined up about 1 1/2 years ago. Kathleen came to our attention when Jen was doing a studio session somewhere and the engineer suggested her. We were auditioning a ton of people and we were feeling really bad. It was almost like Spinal Tap, where the drummer kept exploding, that kind of happened with us trying to find that 3rd singer. Kathleen was the last singer we auditioned.

angel band

Cincy Groove: Is the new cd ready?

Nancy Josephson: The new cd has just been released on May 27th. It is really good, it was produced by Lloyd Maines. It was an unbelievable experience working with him. He has produced groups like the Dixie Chicks and is a great musician. He plays pedal steel guitar and mandolin all over our cd. We are all really proud of it.

Cincy Groove: How long did it take to record the new cd?

Nancy Josephson: Well we worked on it in July and August of last year. The actual recording part pf the process took about 10 days. We were really ready to get things going, by the time we got all the tunes picked out we already knew the timing of the tracks. We had everything really, really tight. Of course Lloyd comes in and changes just about everything (laughing). That being said he really tightened up arrangements and made it all sound really good.

angel band, nancy josephsonCincy Groove: I know the three ladies in Angel Band do the singing, who else performs with The Angel Band?

Nancy Josephson: We have David (Bromberg) who plays guitar, pedal steel and dobro, Bobby Tangrea plays mandolin, guitar and fiddle, we have a fiddle player named Nate Grower, Bob Taylor plays bass. We also had some extra added attractions, we had this guy Bukka Allen playing accordion , which was the coolest thing ever. We also have this kid Johnny Lippincott sit in from time to time.

Read the full interview here

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Interview with David Bromberg

david brombergDavid Bromberg’s live show remains as unique as ever. Concerts by David and his band are extraordinary events, and performances follow no set pattern of selection. Give and take between performer is complete, spontaneous, and totally sincere. As the NY Times noted “He has such control of his audience that he can, at one moment, hold it in his hand with a tender, touching yet funny anecdotal song, and then set it romping and stomping with a raucous bit of raunch. He is electrifying.”

A singular performer/writer/arranger, Bromberg’s remarkable musical versatility and innovative resourcefulness have earned vast critical and popular acclaim. He is also impossible to classify: As one critic perceptively wrote, “David Bromberg fits no pigeonholes. He is part of everything contemporarily musical. He is a product of blues, country, jazz, folk, and classical music. From his early success as a guitar virtuoso, Mr. Bromberg has developed into a brilliant entertainer.” (from

Cincy Groove: I have noticed you have lived in numerous places over the years, what made you settle in Delaware?

David Bromberg: I had been in Chicago for 22 years, and my wife and I didn't want to see another Chicago winter. Its a wonderful town but the winters are brutal. My wife and I are both east coast people and we wanted to live someplace a little bit warmer but didn't want to live way down south. So Delaware seemed like a good compromise.

david bromberg

David Bromberg and his son at the Northwest String Summit

Cincy Groove: Are you working on any new projects?

David Bromberg: I'm working on a bunch of things all at once. I have a live cd from a concert I did in New York in 1982 that I have been selling on the website and at concerts. Appleseed Records wants to officially release it, so we will put it out with the same cover so people don't buy it twice. Then there are 3 other albums I for the most part are making at the same time. I am making one that is kind of a Chicago styles blues album, one that is a big band album, and I haven't started the third one yet. It will be with my quartet.

Read the full Interview here

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Interview with Nicole Atkins

June 3, 2008

Interview by Scott Preston

nicole atkinsThe shores of New Jersey are littered, quite literally, with small towns whose better days are far in the past. They're towns that have been written about, and sung over; towns that have been mythologized and idealized; and they are the towns that 28-year-old musician Nicole Atkins --a native of Neptune City, located a stones throw from fabled Asbury Park--was born and raised in.

They can be places steeped in their own history, buried under the sense of their own pasts. Places of hey-days and what-once-was. And it's that sense of something lost, and of what perhaps should have been, and what might be, that permeates Atkins's debut, Neptune City.

"Neptune City is just this old place," Nicole says. "There was this glory time, way back when, that I never experienced, but that you cannot escape if you live there. Everyone talks about. They almost yearn for it, but I never experienced it. So maybe this album is my attempt to build something new on top of all that." (from

Cincy Groove: When did you first pick up the guitar?

Nicole Atkins: Around when I was 13. I found my uncle's guitar in my parents attic. I didn't really think about playing guitar before that. I still have it, its a Yamaha childrens learner guitar. The neck on the guitar was really, really wide, so it was hard to play.

Cincy Groove: What were the first songs you learned to play on the guitar?

Nicole Atkins: There were a couple. Harvest Moon from Neil Young, Uncle Johns Band from The Grateful Dead, and Where Did you Sleep Last Night. They are all about 3 chords.

nicole atkins

Cincy Groove: How did you hook up with Columbia Records?

Nicole Atkins: I made a demo called "Parties Over", and put a band together and played out for about a year and started to get pretty popular here in New York. A lot of industry people started coming out and they were one of them.

Cincy Groove: What was it like the first time you talked to Rick Rubin?

Nicole Atkins: Well, I was a little pissed off that my record's release date was getting pushed back. I probably wasn't the nicest the person in the world. It turns out he is a really nice guy and what he did with the record was the right thing to do. He was very comfortable to talk to.

Read the full interview here