For all the moonlighting he's done in other genres over the years, Carl Nichols always comes back to the blues. At various points in his career Nichols has played gospel (despite being an atheist), West African music (despite being born and raised in Milwaukee) and, as one half of the acclaimed folk duo Nickel & Rose, Americana (despite having some deep reservations about that genre's long history of appropriating black music without always welcoming black musicians). None of those gigs, however, extinguished his desire to play the kind of traditional, acoustic blues he grew up admiring.
"I think a lot of what's been lost in the blues since the early '60s is the black experience, so I try to sing about that," Nichols says. "I can't escape racial realities, but I'm also aware that my audience is different than me, so the way they receive my message is different. I have this nostalgia for an era where blues musicians sang about their experiences to their own people, but that audience isn't there now."
It’s a challenge, he admits, but there's power in crossing racial and generational divides. And on a personal level, he sees Buffalo Nichols as a form of justice for the music he's always loved. “I want to redeem the blues after all the experiences I went through when I was younger," he explains. "When I first started getting into the blues, my mom would take me to blues shows, and inevitably there'd be some old white guy there who would try to take me under his wing and explain 'the rules' of the blues to me. It chased me away.
"I always related to the blues," Nichols concludes. "I grew up in abject poverty. I experienced racism. And when I would sit down with a blues record, I could hear that in the songs. Now I want to be that person that I never got to see on stage."
- This show will be held outside on the Hideout's front patio.
- 21+. Please arrive with your e-ticket ready on your phone at full brightness for door staff to scan. Door staff will also check ID and vaccination card. Please have these ready when you arrive.
- Seating is available for all guests but we do not reserve tables. Please seat yourself upon entry.
- Tickets are non-refundable and non-exchangeable. Please review your order carefully before confirming.