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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Nikki Hill at the Tip Top in Grand Rapids Feb 1

Photo by Angela Vincent
Doubters about the value of a little gossip should consider the recent phenomenon known as Nikki Hill. The newest roots/rockabilly singer is hurtling through the entertainment stratosphere as we speak, and all systems indicate she isn’t heading back to earth anytime soon. Already folks are running around thinking Nikki Hill is out of this world.

According to Hill, a spark lit the fuse in April. She was in Vegas a few days early for the Viva Las Vegas rockabilly weekend. “I was just in town to catch up with friends I don’t get to see much and check out the scene.” With not much else shaking she finds herself with an invite to a mid-week party thrown by Rollin’ Rock records founder Ron Weiser. This the same not-to-miss affair partly responsible for jump-starting the recent JD McPherson craze. Hill’s friend merely signs her up to sing at the shindig. “It kind of became this big rumor that me and my band actually played Weiser's party but we didn’t,” Hill says with a chuckle. “I just sang a couple of songs at this jam.” But the damage had already been done. While wandering at Viva, she heads downstairs to a showcase on Saturday. “I had some friends in the host band call me up for a number,” Hill said. “That went over real well. The positive response to my appearances that week is what essentially encouraged me to even write and record.”

A couple of YouTube videos of the festivities soon emerge. Comparisons to Ruth Brown and Solomon Burke roll in. If vocal gifts can get you to the top, a powerful stage presence can keep you there. And Hill has plenty of charisma; credit--at least partially--one of her biggest influences, Little Richard. “The energy and intensity of his music is timeless,” Hill said. “One of the things we love most about artists like Little Richard is the rawness of the music. Energy like that is something a lot of people today can’t capture.”

Hill is joined Feb 1 at the Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill in Grand Rapids by her bandmate-husband Matt Hill. Matt is a noted blues guitarist and singer with two recordings under his own name (Matt Hill & the Deep Fryed 2). Dave Herrero on bass and drummer Joe Meyer round out the quartet.

Time gives notice if Hill’s trajectory is an illusion. For now her journey is nothing but meteoric. “Things have been definitely moving along very quickly,” Hill says of her gravity-defying ascent. “We’re still kind of taken aback by everything and thankful things are going along so successfully.” From here it looks like she's clearing the launch pad amid promising billowy clouds. “So far things have paid off very well,” Hill said. “This year there's a big focus on hitting the road and getting out in front of all the people who have heard about it but who haven’t had the chance to see us yet.” 

Nikki Hill, 8 p.m. Friday at the Tip Top in Grand Rapids. Delilah DeWylde & the Lost Boys open.

Nikki Hill's new website:  http://nikkihillmusic.com/

$10 advance, $12 door

Tickets: http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&eventId=3199024&pl=tiptop

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Hawktones wsg Patrick Recob at the Tip Top in Grand Rapids Jan 25

Hank Mowery had just put a wrap the highly successful First Annual Harmonica Summit Tribute to Gary Primich when a phone call came through. On the other end of the line was the sister of the late Primich, Darsha. A check-in from Darsha was not so unusual. The Primich family, including Gary’s father Jack, had been an integral part of the Harmonica Summit in September. Her call, come to find out, contained an offer almost too good to be true. “Darsha said we have these unfinished songs of Gary’s and we’re wondering what to do with them,” Mowery said. “She asked if I’d be interested in using the songs for future recording opportunities.” The tapes--rough drafts with just Gary on guitar--were from a workshop with harmonica customizer Joe Filisko at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. They were recorded in 2007 about month before Gary’s death that September. The family found additional lyrics when they where going through Gary’s stuff not long after. Hank readily agreed and an idea had been born: they would finish the new songs and record classic Gary Primich songs while they’re at it. One person has been at the top of the list all along for call-in help. Their name would have to have the deepest of connections to the music of Gary Primich. This notice would go out to Patrick Recob, a veteran musician from Kansas City MO. “Patrick is the first person I thought of when lining up musicians,” Mowery said. “Patrick toured with Primich throughout Michigan several times. He’s a helluva bass player and a fine singer too.” Recob recently completed shows with Kate Moss and Jimmy Hall (Wet Willie) in Colorado. For the last couple of years Recob has performed at the Buddy Holly Birthday Bash observance in Kansas City MO. He helps run a harmonica workshop at Knuckleheads Saloon in KC. Mowery is still scratching his head over how lucky he is to be handed these songs. But he admits the family thought he was coming from the right place. “I am honored of course,” Mowery said. “But to know how West Michigan rates with the Primich family is really something.” Hank won’t admit it but the bestowment has as much to do with his personal friendship with Gary Primich as anything else. “When you met Gary Primich he made you feel like he was your friend,” Mowery said. “Out of all the places around the world that Gary recorded, played, and made friends, Grand Rapids is high on the list with Jack and Darsha. That’s the thing I’m most proud of.”
Gary Primich and Hank Mowery

Hank Mowery & the Hawktones wsg guest Patrick Recob, 8 pm, Friday at the Tip Top in Grand Rapids. $5

Tickets available at: http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&eventId=3272884&pl=tiptop