Nicolay and Shields stun the Grindhouse
Franz Nicolay plays The Hearts of Boston on his accordion at the Grindhouse Cafe on Nov. 17. Photo
Franz Nicolay and Lou Shields brought eclectic instruments and eager patrons to Grindhouse Cafe in Griffith on Nov. 17.
The stage was set in the first phrases with Nicolay's alliterated a cappella bellow of "Betty Botter bought a bottle of bitters from the bar/ Major Matt, he mixed his mild martinis in a jar/ This doggerel is my private hell, these words whose meanings never gel/ I'm gonna find you, wherever you are," after which he added accordion playing to the mix, as the audience's jaws dropped.
Dressed in a suit complete with a red pocket square, Nicolay made it look easy as he belted his full-throated melodies and witty banter while playing banjo, acoustic guitar and accordion. Heavy and light emotions were evoked together with every note and felt throughout the small, crowded coffee shop. His charisma was astounding.
Between each song was a perfectly-executed story. New Hampshire-turned-Brooklyn native Nicolay is a storyteller as much as he is a brilliant musician. His sentimental lyrics and stories about travels, struggle, living free, sometimes made-up people and the planned-but-never-executed Berlin-to-Baghdad railroad are catching. In the middle of "The Migration of the Cuckoo," he compared the feelings of love and revenge.
"There's a certain overlap in the experience. You go to bed every night thinking of that one person. You wake up in the morning thinking of that one person - and what you're going to do to them the next time you see them," Nicolay said, while plucking the banjo lightly.
Nicolay has taken his turn in the world of musicians, and it shows. After working with dozens of artists, including stints in The World/Inferno Friendship Society and The Hold Steady, the sounds of his solo work are in a completely different place. And listening is worth every second.
Franz Nicolay's newest album, "Do the Struggle" can be purchased at www.franznicolay.com.
Chicagoan musician, artist and skateboarder Shields opened the show with a heartfelt set of bluesy, Americana tunes. As he played through short songs with a country feel, he told stories of his travels, his life as a musician and his instruments.
The most notable thing about Shields is his use of homemade instruments, from bottle caps and an Illinois license plate nailed to broken skateboard decks as "stompers" for percussion, to each of his guitars having a specific story. One guitar is beautifully crafted out of a skateboard ramp. He found another hand-carved archtop guitar in Idaho during his travels.
As he is from the Chicagoland area, Shields has played many times at Paul Henry's Art Gallery in Hammond, though not as much recently as he has been busy playing music in other places.
He told the story of his song "Hobo Tired," about his great grandfather and uncle who lived through the Great Depression and were forced to travel to find work. Another tune lent the story of the Charro, a dark spirit in the night rumored to steal souls.
Perhaps the best song of the set was the intense "Lonesome Road," where Shields tuned his archtop guitar to an open G chord, turned it on its side and sang about "travelling so my mind don't come undone."
Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly
From Around the Web
More PUC Chronicle News Articles
Recent PUC Chronicle News Articles
Discuss This Article
MOST POPULAR PUC CHRONICLE NEWS
GET TOP STORIES DELIVERED WEEKLY
FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER
LATEST PUC CHRONICLE NEWS
- PUC's students, faculty, staff hope new year allows them to build on current...
- The Amazing Spider-Man #1 Comic Review
- University seeks to perform well in accreditation
- PUC's administration seeks university-wide sharing of information about...
- PUC begins financial literacy initiative to aid student retention, employee...
- Public relations alumni plan May 16 networking event
- University builds on community partnerships
RECENT PUC CHRONICLE CLASSIFIEDS
FROM AROUND THE WEB
- Erase Strokes From Your Golf Game -- No Pencil Required
- Boomers Find Reason to Celebrate With Vacations
- Shave Strokes off Your Golf Game -- Without the Eraser
- Stay Cool With a Ceiling Fan as Stylish as It Is Functional
- Have a Blast With the Family This Summer, but Stay Safe
- Chiropractic Careers Are on the Rise
- Choosing the Right Home Health Care Agency
- Pop the Champagne Diamond for Your Seasonal Fashion...
- Managing Pain: Are You Reading Your Medicine Labels?
- Does Your Garbage Want to Be Recycled?