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A Dirty Dozen with DWIGHT + NICOLE – October 2021

| 26 October 2021 | Reply


Photo credit: Eric Antoniou

According to a recent press release: “Burlington, VT-based trio Dwight + Nicole is set to release its new EP, Further, on October 22, 2021. Five songs deep, the EP showcases the strengths inherent in the American roots/vintage R&B music made by band members Dwight Ritcher, Nicole Nelson, and Ezra Oklan.  Produced by multi-Grammy-nominated producer Joel Hamilton (Aaron Neville, The Meters, The Black Keys) and recorded at Studio G in Brooklyn, NY in the fall of 2019, the new EP was set to be released in April of 2020, but the worldwide shutdown and cancelled tours hit pause on the release of the new music. Nelson and Ritcher met in Boston, MA when they were just out of school, both cutting their teeth on the local club circuit. They each fronted popular bands in the area and discovered a shared obsession of soul and blues greats like the Staples Singers, Albert King, Lighting Hopkins, Jimmy Witherspoon, Roberta Flack, and Etta James. They began singing together often and developed a close friendship that grew romantic over time. Eventually, they formed Dwight + Nicole, which was, in the early days, a duo: Dwight on electric guitar, Nelson on tambourine, stomping their feet and singing in harmony. They began to tour regionally, writing together and developing a sound. After a move to Burlington, VT, they met powerhouse drummer Ezra Oklan (Nicole Atkins, Elle King), and the group quickly formed a trio with Nelson picking up the bass.” We get the duo to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Nicole: This EP is a cross-section of our time together over the last three years. There’s a lot behind these five songs. I think that after just one listen, you might not catch how they all tie together. The songs are each their own little islands, so it might take a few listens through before you notice that they are all telling a single story. Yes, there are hidden gems in there… always.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Dwight: I was 16 and got snuck in the back door of a club to play drums with a blues band on the Jersey Shore where I grew up. When I got home, I could hardly sleep because I knew then what I was.

Nicole:  I don’t remember ever not being obsessed with it. For as long as I can remember, I knew 100% that I would be a musician.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Nicole:  I was really all over the place as far as musical taste goes. My parents played a wide mix of music nonstop at home. Dad loved Jimi Hendrix, Count Basie, Cream, Leonard Cohen, Billie Holiday… Mom loved Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, The Staple Singers, Prince, Vivaldi. And so much more. Music was always playing and I was absorbing it all.

Dwight:  It would be B.B. King. He was the first artist I saw in concert on my own. His album, Blues is King, has always been an energetic touchstone for me. I love his version of Willie Nelson’s “Nightlife” on that record. It wasn’t until years later in Richmond, VA that I got to meet him. I wish I had had more time to tell him how much he meant to me. He showed me where I could put that feeling in me…even in the most confusing and dark times. My victories. My mistakes.  That’s B.B. — a teacher.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Dwight: I’d like to do a tune with Steve Jordan. I love his drumming, his musicianship, his whole vibe. He has a wicked shuffle.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

Dwight: I like to ride my bike and drink coffee… not in that order.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Dwight: Eclectically styled music with a lot of heart, leaning on soul, blues, and rock and roll. Not sure how to answer the second question. It’s not that I don’t deal with doubts, cringes, and anxieties, I just don’t hold on to specifics, so I can’t think of something specific. I’m into the least amount of holding and judgement in general. Slowly learning to develop that in my life towards others and myself.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Dwight: No one cooks on the road. I don’t drink. I’m the first to grab a guitar and sing along.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Dwight: I was starstruck when I first met Norah Jones for a minute. We had a tour with her. I think I was a little bit starstruck because when I first heard her music there was a lot of stuff on the radio that I didn’t dig, but her stuff moved me, her voice and the songs. I think the starstruck thing is silly, though. Everyone is working on their stuff and trying to improve regardless of their “success.” I want to make everyone feel included and like that for myself, too.

9. What is the best part of being a musician?  If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

Nicole: The best part is knowing that you have the power to fully shift the energy of a space. If I wasn’t a musician, I’d either be a visual artist/designer or a pilot.

Dwight: The best part is getting to write and perform, work on my language, and all the fun you have with your band and your team at shows. My dream job if I wasn’t a musician would be a visual artist or a downhill ski champ.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Nicole: I always really want someone to ask me if I have experience communicating with inter-dimensional beings. No one EVER ASKS. The answer is YES. The one and only question I’m tired of answering is, “So, are you two a real-life couple?”

Dwight: HA!

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Nicole: I wouldn’t change anything. Career-wise, I don’t have any regrets. I always followed my gut — and I love that fact. I am very proud of my choices. They were made consciously.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Nicole: Ahhh! I would say either Aretha Franklin’s I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You or Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland. I literally cannot choose. They are both perfect babies and I love them equally.






Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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