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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

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