PB&J cubes blues Saturday at Retro Live

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Apr. 20—PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh Blues and Jazz unleashes a triple threat with Saturday's concert, 7 to 10 p.m., with Danielle Nicole Band with very special guests Kevin Burt and Big Medicine and Soulful Femme.

One of these acts alone would be enough to attract intrepid blues fans, but all three on one bill is like winning the blues lottery.


Danielle Nicole is the 2019 Grammy Nominee for Best Contemporary Blues Album and a seven-time Blues Music Award winner, Independent Music Award Winner for best R & B album and best R & B song.

Nicole hails from Kansas City and is a powerhouse singer-songwriter and bassist known for her astounding vocals and exquisite musicianship. She has spent her life making music and pleasing fans, domestically and abroad. Her stunning new album, "The Love You Bleed," on Forty Below Records, comprises 12 heartfelt tracks exploring themes of love, loss and perseverance.

Nicole was initially influenced by her parents. She recalls seeing her father playing blues guitar and her mother singing with the group Little Eva. With her two brothers, she became a member of Trampled Under Foot, which found initial popularity in the Midwest, before embarking on her solo career in 2015.


No stranger to the North Country, Kevin Burt is a three-time winner at the International Blues Challenge and is an Acoustic Artist of the Year nominee. His latest album, a tribute to Bill Withers, "Thank You Mr. Bill," is also a chart topper, according to kevinburtmusic.net.

In a comparably short career, Burt has shared the stage in one form or another with a Who's Who in the music world — B.B. King, Koko Taylor, Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, Luther Allison, Bernard Allison, Junior Wells and on and on.

Burt is recognized as one of the Midwest's top blues heritage educators, an honor given to him by Iowa Gov. Chet Culver in February 2009. A registered artist and artist educator with the state of Iowa Arts Council, Burt has also written and published a classroom harmonica method book called "Just Play It: An Introduction to Blues Harmonica."

Burt was busy this week bringing his national TED Talk about music in schools for Big Love, an award-winning national live music program, to local schools.


Soulful Femme is powered by the fiery vocals of Stevee Wellons and blazing riffs of guitarist Cheryl Rinovato.

Wellons has been performing since the late 1970's in a variety of bands, according to soulfemme.com. Over the course of her career, she shared stages with the Dazz Band, Cameo, Peaches and Herb, and Howard Hewett, among many others. She recently co-wrote and performed background vocals for the artist known as Sun King Rising, A.K.A John Blangero. She is currently an adjunct professor at the Community College of Allegheny County.

Rinovato has been a student of guitar since the age of 9 and is a graduate of the prestigious Berklee School of Music. A three-time recipient of the prestigious Jim Weber Award, accorded to the Blues Guitarist of the Year, she claims extensive studio experience while citing such early influences as Jimi Hendrix, Duane Allman, Tower of Power, and Burt Bacharach. Rinovato is a Delaney Guitars-endorsed artist who has two signature models that were designed with her in mind.

The duo met at a 2014 Blues Society event and competed at the International Blues Competition a year later. Their new release, "Attitude," features special guests including Burt dueting on "Insane Asylum."

The blues world is small, but mighty.

Find out why Saturday night at Retro Live.

Q & A with Danielle Nicole

RC: Danielle Nicole Band. Who will be performing in the Plattsburgh show?

DN: Danielle Nicole, vocals and bass. Brandon Miller, guitar and vocals. Go-Go Ray, drums.

RC: How did you arrive at the title for "Love You Bleed?" Are you happy with the reception of this album out in the world? What was the easiest track to write and why? What was the most difficult track to write and why? Do you still stand by your decision to record on tape? How have the 12 tracks evolved from recording to stage?

DN: We are all subject to our upbringing and surroundings and as a lyric from one of my songs, I thought it fit perfectly where I am and what it takes. I'm happy with the reception. I believe the fans can feel the amount of energy we poured into this recording and album. I loved the process of recording to tape. We won't do it any other way in the future. It gives the music the opportunity to breathe, and it is the way music was intended to be recorded. Each night the songs grow a little bit more on stage. They bring on different meanings as time passes.

RC: In general, what does your creative practice look like? Do you write lyrics, put down musical phrases on the fly or do you carve out retreat space to percolate ideas or both?

DN: It depends on the song. Sometimes it starts with a line of lyrics then I put it to a melody. Others start with a riff and build from there. Each is independent and unique.

RC: What surprises you about your career so far? What is the best advice about the musical industry that you were given? By who? What was the context?

DN: Not really much left to surprise me after all — haha. The best advice I ever got was from Ken Shepherd. He said, "whatever you do, own your recordings and publishing." I was trying to decide what to do with this album. I'd received a few traditional labels offers, but my gut was telling me to stand my ground and own the masters' and that's what I did. I held out and I'm very happy with the outcome.

RC: How cognizant are you of how your origin story, your familial constellation, geography has impacted who you are? How did you consciously step into your own power? How do you define the blues?

DN: There's a reality growing up poor and unpopular that gives you a unique POV. I think it's adds to the ability to empathize and find hope for a better world. I've recently stepped into my power coming out of the shutdown with an open heart instead a hardened one. The blues is America's foundation of music. There's a guideline, but not a rule book. The blues is real life to music.

RC: Who are your musical influences? Have you shared the stage with any of them? If you could time travel, who would you like to have a conversation with, perform with and why?

DN: My influences always change but the staples remain the same: Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Willie Dixon, Donald Dunn, Stevie Wonder. I never shared the stage with them, but I've been fortunate to share the stage jamming with many musicians I admire such as Luther Dickinson, Robert Randolph, Susan Tedeschi, Bobby Rush, Shemekia Copeland and Ruthie Foster.

RC: What advice would you give a young musician dreaming of "making it"? What is your definition of making it?

DN: Know what you want and learn the business side of it. If you're a female, always trust and follow your gut and never let anyone tell you your worth. Don't practice until you get it right, practice until you can't get it wrong.

Making it is so subjective. I'm content and I'm there. Of course there's always room for growth and progress and we continue to strive, but I'm also happy with the balance of motherhood and music I've worked so hard to achieve.

RC: Where is home and what is next?

DN: We live in Kansas City just outside of downtown. Just far and close enough to have the city life and a decent yard. We have plans to tour all over the world this summer. We have a ton of festivals in Europe and the U.S. and intimate venues as well that give us and the fans a great balance.

Email: rcaudell@pressrepublican.com