and Morning Nichols
(Jim) Chet Atkins fingerstyle guitarist and (Morning) smoky chanteuse
Today’s date: April 5, 2010
Music Genre: Blues, Jazz, Country and French Cabaret
Songs you might hear at a concert: Jim soloing on the old jazz standard “Back Home Again In Indiana” or offering up a little Travis picking on the R&B “One Mint Julep.” Morning swinging out the vocal sweets with songs like “Deed I Do,” “La Vie En Rose,” “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To,” “Fever,” “La Mer” (aka “Somewhere Beyond The Sea”) and “Fields Of Gold” while Jim orchestrates comprehensive singing strings.
CDs: “Live from Boulevard Music,” “Somebody Loves Me,” “Save Your Love For Me,” “Unconditional Love,” and “My Flame.”
Jim Nichols solo CDs or with other artists: “Lodges” with Bobby Black, Chris Kranyak, Rich Kuhns, Michael Bluestein, Paul van Wageningen and Peter Barshay; “Live Richard Smith and Jim Nichols;” “Jazz and Country,” Jim’s solo debut and “Chet Lag,” tribute to Chet Atkins featuring Tommy Emmanuel and Morning Nichols – this latter one, out of stock.
* * * Except where noted above, all CDs available through artists’ website * * *
Where they are at the time of this writing: Performing in France, back by popular demand.
Where have they played: It’s more like, where haven’t they played. But to list a few locales – France, England, Italy, Germany, Finland and all around the San Francisco Bay Area. There is also Nashville and Kentucky and yes they did play, several times with Chet Atkins.
Fun facts: Married almost 28 years they met in San Francisco’s legendary Guitar Solo. Morning used to work there. (Check out www.gspguitar.com.)
“We courted with one guitar,” Morning said. “I made dinner then we started passing the guitar back and forth over the meal. We were playing Beatles tunes to each other. Jim grabbed the guitar and played something and then I’d do the same thing. It was love!”
YouTube samplings: www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQM9YOqcNiI (song, “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” by Dolly Parton)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gMpDj9ZtxY (song, “St. Louis Blues”)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCMWXhodsE4 (song, “You’d Be So Nice To Come To)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WSg9cORYaI (song, “Says Who?”)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=25_L0s1XpVs (song, “Crazy Rhythm”)
What the critics say: ”Though lighthearted banter and pure comfortable ease with their audience make Nichols and Nichols the toast of the town, the genius of their music is pure champagne” – Pacifica Tribune
“Artists worthy of international attention” – Palo Alto Daily News
“Jim and Morning give a tightly polished performance that's full of musical surprises” – Guitar Forum
“I know, as the torch is passed, our beloved instrument is in good hands with players like Jerry Reed, Tommy Emmanuel, Richard Smith, Jim Nichols and Doyle Dykes” – Chet Atkins
Morning, how about a bit of your story?
“I was hatched in Chicago but I grew up in Los Angeles and I loved music from the get-go. My maternal great uncle had a Chicago band called the “Illinee Oriole,” and he played trombone. My mother’s cousin played piano and worked music jobs and my mother was really quite musical. On my dad’s side, his brother had a beautiful baritone and his brother’s son is an actor and singer in New York.
I started playing guitar when I was 8. I took two years of formal guitar, learned how to read music and learned how to play folk music with other kids. I never put the guitar down after that! When I was a little older, I studied classical guitar and then I started teaching guitar to beginners. I still teach. I also started singing early on and when I met Jim, I really focused on my singing. And we took our show on the road!”
Morning, didn’t you start singing professionally and playing guitar as a teen?
“I guess I did! My first professional gig was at a coffee house in Los Angeles. But it didn’t really sink in that I was a ‘professional musician’ until I was in my mid twenties.
Your turn Jim, please expound on your life story in music!
“My dad, Rusty Nichols, played trombone and was a vocalist with the Jimmy Dorsey and Charlie Spivak touring bands. He also played with the Freddy Lee Orchestra out of Roanoke, Virginia, where I grew up. My brother John, who plays bass, and I were the ‘band boys’. We’d go and set up the music and that sort of stuff and eventually I played guitar with the band. My mother was a superb pianist and was a staff musician on the radio in Richmond, Virginia and my sister played piano, guitar, and sang.
I was 9 when I learned a few chords and melodies on a ukulele at my aunt’s house. When I was 10, I got my first guitar, which cost $5. It was a Stella guitar from a studio where my dad was working and he sanded and stained the top and gave it to me. That guitar was worth about 55 bucks so it was a deal! When I was 11, I discovered Chet Atkins and really got serious about learning. I dabbled with a few other instruments but the guitar suited me because it was easier to get a good sound out of than a horn, no blowing required, chords were easy to learn and a lot of my favorite music featured guitar. Maybe if I had been exposed to a lot of circus music I would have played the xylophone instead!”
How many guitars between the two of you?
“Between the two of us we have about twenty,” Jim said. “A Harmony Archtop, a Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessee Rose, several other old Gretsch guitars, a Kirk Sands nylon electric, a Johnny Smith, a nice Morris guitar that was made for us, my Hollenbeck, and the list goes on. Maybe I have collected a few too many? Nah!
Jim, didn’t you play with Chet Atkins a number of times?
I met Chet, 36 years after I first heard his music and for me the meeting was pretty emotional. I had the opportunity to play with him a few times at the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society Conventions (CAAS). (ofgc.bizland.com/caas.htm.) We got to be friends and when Morning and I were in Nashville, I would usually go to his office and play some. One time he was playing at the Burbank Center in Santa Rosa and he invited me up on stage to join him in a number. I wasn’t nervous. I just wanted to play my best so he’d invite me to join him again! He was a great human being and he liked to laugh. He was a pleasure to be around and the best thing for me was to just sit back and learn from the pro.
How is it working with your spouse?
“We both understand the life of a musician!” Morning said. “And she never complains,” Jim laughed. “Except for maybe the time we stayed in this dump right above the blues club we had just performed at in France!”
“It was seriously funky,” Morning laughed. “It did have a bathroom which included a nail on the wall to hold the toilet paper. The shower was a bit surprising and the dirty dishes left in the sink were pretty gross. But the topper was the bed that opened like a futon. When I got up in the morning, quietly, so Jim could keep sleeping, the bed goes ‘boing’ and Jim flies off onto the floor.”
“Wait, I think that was me that was complaining,” Jim laughed.
“But really for Jim and I, playing music is like being in a candy store – we love it!”
Jim and Morning Nichols